What to Do If Your Sponsor Licence Application is Refused or Rejected

Licence Application is Refused

Skilled workers contribute significantly to business growth with their unique knowledge, proficiency, and innovative thinking. Nevertheless, identifying the perfect candidates for these roles can be challenging. Moreover, UK companies who would like to hire such individuals need appropriate licenses to do so. This is where the skilled worker sponsor licence becomes relevant.

Applications for Sponsor Licenses are evaluated by a particular sponsor applications unit at the Home Office. If you meet the required criteria and provide all the paperwork needed it is often the case that your application will be successful. However, there are also many instances where this is not the case, resulting in a refusal which would mean you would have to challenge

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In this article, we discuss what happens if your Skilled Worker Sponsor License is refused. If you find yourself in this situation, keep reading to find out what options you have and do not hesitate to contact our team of business immigration solicitors for expert advice and representation. 

Understanding the Refusal of Sponsor Licence Application

When a Sponsor Licence application is rejected or refused, it means that the Home Office has identified problems within your application that obstruct them from issuing your company the licence. Comprehending the rationale behind the refusal is the initial stride towards rectifying the problem and enhancing the likelihood of successful applications in the future.

Lack of Necessary Paperwork

One of the most common reasons for Sponsor Licence refusal is the lack of necessary paperwork. The Home Office requires a range of documents to verify the legitimacy of your business and your need for a Sponsor Licence. These documents may include proof of trading, evidence of holding necessary accreditations, and proof of employer’s liability insurance, among others. If any of these records are unavailable, incomplete, or not up-to-date or satisfactory, the Home Office may refuse your application.

Late Submission of Documents

The Sponsor Licence application process is time-sensitive. The Home Office expects all supporting documents and application fees to be submitted within a specified timeframe. If you forget to present the required records within this period, your application may be refused. It’s crucial to ensure you have all the required documents ready and submit them promptly to avoid such a situation.

Incorrect or Incomplete Application

The application form must be filled out precisely and thoroughly. If there are mistakes, omissions, or inaccuracies in the application, the Home Office may refuse it. This is why it’s crucial to double-check all information and ensure that all required documentation is included with the application.

Failure of Background Checks

The Home Office conducts thorough background checks on businesses applying for a Sponsor Licence. These checks aim to ensure that the business is genuine, operating lawfully in the UK, and capable of fulfilling its sponsor duties. If your business fails these checks, your Sponsor Licence application may be denied. This could be due to reasons such as previous immigration breaches, unsuitable key personnel, or failure to demonstrate that you can comply with the sponsorship duties.

Inadequate HR Systems

Businesses are required to establish solid HR infrastructures to oversee and manage their sponsored workforce. This includes keeping current records and ensuring adherence to immigration regulations. If the Home Office senses that a company’s HR systems are flawed or fail to meet the required standards, they may refuse the application.

Lack of Genuine Vacancy

The Home Office may refuse an application if they believe there is no genuine vacancy or role suitable for sponsorship. This could be the case if the job description doesn’t match the role or if the role doesn’t appear to require the skills of a foreign worker.

Adverse Trading History

If the company has a history of bankruptcy, liquidation, or other adverse trading issues, the Home Office may refuse the application. This ensures that only financially stable and reliable companies are granted Sponsor Licences.

Failure to Cooperate with Home Office

It’s important for companies to cooperate during the application procedure by supplying the required documents and permitting site visits. Negligence to do so may result in the application being denied. Demonstrating commitment to compliance and transparency through cooperation with the Home Office is crucial.

Financial Instability

The Home Office needs to be confident that the company can support the sponsored employee for the duration of their visa. If a company is not financially stable or if there are concerns about its financial viability, the application may be refused.

Moreover, The job on offer must meet certain salary requirements, which vary depending on the role and the visa category. If the proposed salary is too low or if it doesn’t meet the minimum threshold for the specific visa category, the application may be refused.

Criminal Convictions

If the company or its key personnel have unspent criminal convictions, particularly those related to immigration offences or fraud, the application may be refused. This is to ensure that only reputable and law-abiding companies are granted Sponsor Licences.

What to Do If Your Sponsor Licence Application is Refused

Encountering a denial of your Sponsor Licence application can naturally lead to disappointment. However, it’s vital to remember that refusal doesn’t represent a dead end. There are designated procedures to challenge the decision, and being aware of these alternatives can equip you to undertake the necessary actions towards a favourable outcome.

There are two main routes to challenge a Sponsor Licence denial: an ‘Error Correction Request’ and a Judicial Review. Each of these alternatives serves a distinct purpose and is appropriate under varying circumstances. Let’s explore these options in more depth to understand when and how they can be utilised.

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Challenge the Refusal by ‘Error Correction Request’

An ‘Error Correction Request’ is a process that enables you to challenge the denial of your Sponsor Licence application if you suspect that the decision was due to an error in casework. You can choose this route if you believe the caseworker didn’t properly assess the documents submitted, misunderstood the information provided, or made an inaccurate factual judgement in their inspection.

To begin an ‘Error Correction Request’, you need to submit a formal request to the Home Office within 14 days from the date of the refusal. This request should effectively highlight the sensed error and supply any supporting proof or arguments to back your claim.

Once you have submitted your ‘Error Correction Request’ to the Home Office, they will carefully review your application and the details of your request. You can anticipate a response within 28 days of sending the request. If the Home Office acknowledges the error and concurs with your request, they will re-evaluate your application. But if they uphold their initial decision, you may explore other opportunities, such as a Judicial Review.

Apply for a Judicial Review

Applying for a Judicial Review is a more formal and comprehensive process to challenge the refusal of your Sponsor Licence application. This option is suitable if you believe the refusal was illegitimate, unreasonable, or systematically wrong. For example, if you think the Home Office did not follow the correct approach in evaluating your application, made a judgment that no appropriate authority would have made, or performed above their legal authorities, you can go for a Judicial Review.

The process of a Judicial Review begins with sending a pre-action protocol letter to the Home Office. This letter outlines your intention to seek a Judicial Review and provides a final opportunity for the Home Office to reconsider its decision before you proceed with legal action.

If the Home Office maintains its decision, you can proceed to file a claim for a Judicial Review. This procedure involves a judge reviewing the legitimacy of the decision made by the Home Office. It’s vital to note that a Judicial Review is not a re-assessment of your application but a judgment of how the decision was made. Therefore, the judge will not evaluate the quality of your Sponsor Licence application but will focus on whether the Home Office conducted lawfully and followed the correct processes in constructing their decision.

Reapply for a Sponsor Licence

If your initial Sponsor Licence application has been refused, it’s crucial not to lose heart. A refusal, while disappointing, can serve as a valuable learning experience, providing insights into the areas where your application fell short and offering a roadmap for improvement. If your application was refused, you may be able to submit another application, depending on what your refusal letter states. Preparing for a second application involves addressing the reasons for the initial refusal and taking steps to strengthen your application.

Importance of Addressing the Reasons for the Initial Refusal

The refusal letter from the Home Office will include the causes of why your Sponsor Licence application was denied. These reasons provide a clear articulation of the areas where your application needs revision. If the refusal was because of lack of necessary paperwork, late submission of records, or failure of background checks, you may be able to submit a new application immediately. However, it is vital to address these issues beforehand by speaking with a team of immigration experts. In some cases, there may be a cooling off period stated in the refusal letter, which will restrict you from making another application for a 6-12 month period. 

For example, if your application is denied due to a lack of necessary paperwork, ensure that you collect all the required documents to support the application. If the sponsor licence application is denied due to late submission of documents, make sure to submit your documents at the appropriate time in the future. If it was refused due to failure of background checks, take steps to fix the issues that led to this consequence.

Tips for Preparing a Stronger Sponsor Licence Application

Preparing a more robust application for a sponsor involves demonstrating that your business is genuine, operating lawfully in the UK, and capable of fulfilling its sponsor duties. Here are some tips to assist you in preparing a stronger application:

  1. Organise Documents Correctly: Make sure you have all the necessary documents in support of the application and that they are up-to-date and complete. This includes proof of trading, evidence of holding necessary accreditations, and proof of employer’s liability insurance, among others.
  2. Nominate Suitable Key Personnel: The Home Office will conduct background checks on the individuals you nominate as key personnel in your application. Ensure that these individuals are genuine, trustworthy, and reliable.
  3. Show Compliance with Immigration Laws: If your business has previously broken immigration laws, show that you have taken remedial measures and are now functioning lawfully and in adherence with all immigration laws.
  4. Prepare for a Home Office Compliance Visit: The Home Office may execute a compliance visit as part of the Sponsor Licence application procedure. Ensure that your business is organised for this visit and can present compliance with the sponsorship commitments.


Having your Sponsor Licence application denied can be a very stressful experience.. However, it’s vital to remember that denial doesn’t represent a dead end. By understanding the reasons for the denial, launching measures to fix these issues, and drafting a robust new application, you can enhance your prospects of future success.

If your Sponsor Licence application is denied, the initial step is to understand the reasons for the denial. Whether it’s due to a lack of required paperwork, delayed submission of documents, or unsuccessful background checks, understanding these reasons can deliver valuable insights into the areas where your application requires improvement.

Once you’ve grasped the reasons for the denial, you can undertake measures to fix these issues. This could involve gathering the necessary documents, submitting your documents in a punctual manner, or taking measures to pass the background checks successfully.

Preparing a stronger Sponsor Licence application is crucial to improving your chances of success in the future. This involves demonstrating that your business is genuine, operating lawfully in the UK, and capable of fulfilling its sponsor duties. Professional help can provide valuable guidance in this process, enabling you to navigate the sophistication of the application method and formulate a strong application.

It’s important to keep in mind that a rejection doesn’t mean that you’ve failed, but rather presents an opportunity to start afresh. By approaching the situation with the proper guidance, you can transform a refusal into a successful application for a Sponsor License.

Need Help with Your Sponsor Licence Refusal?

Going through the complexity of the Sponsor Licence application process alone can be challenging. At Gulbenkian Andonian, we understand these challenges and are here to help. Our team of experienced professionals can provide valuable guidance, helping you understand the requirements, prepare a strong application, and address any issues that caused the refusal.

Whether you’re preparing to submit an application or your application is refused by the home office, we can provide the support and guidance you need. Contact us today, and let us help you navigate the sponsor license process with confidence.


No, there is no right to appeal or administrative review for a Sponsor Licence refusal. However, you can challenge the decision through an ‘Error Correction Request’ or a Judicial Review.

The cooling-off period refers to the time you might have to wait before reapplying for a Sponsor Licence after a refusal. This can vary from six months to up to a period of 12 months, depending on the reason for the refusal. Please also note that sometimes, there is no cooling-off period.

A sponsor licence application can be rejected if the applicant or the sponsoring company doesn’t meet the requirements. If you receive a refusal from the Home Office, it means they reviewed your application and determined that you don’t meet the necessary requirements for a licence. However, if your application is rejected, it means it didn’t pass the initial validity checks.

The processing time for a Sponsor Licence application can vary, but it typically takes around eight weeks from when the complete application is submitted.

Yes, a Sponsor Licence can be revoked if the Home Office finds that the licence holder is not complying with their duties as a sponsor or if there are other significant reasons, such as involvement in illegal activities found in the Home Office compliance visit.

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