For any UK business reliant on the sponsorship of overseas workers, having a sponsor licence downgraded, suspended, or revoked can pose a significant operational risk. It may mean that you are unable to sponsor new overseas candidates until the matter is resolved, or in the event of revocation, your existing sponsored personnel may have their work visas cancelled. In this article, we will explain what you can do if your sponsor licence is downgraded, suspended, or revoked.
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Sponsor Licence Suspension
Why Have I Received a Sponsor Licence Notice of Suspension?
If, following a compliance visit, UKVI has more serious concerns about your sponsorship compliance, they may send you a notice of suspension outlining the specific issues identified by their compliance officer. This may happen if UKVI believes you:
- Are you breaching your sponsor duties
- Pose a threat to immigration control, or
- Engaging in behaviours or actions that are not “conducive to the public good”
Receiving a notice of suspension means that you cannot issue any new Certificates of Sponsorship, and UKVI will make further enquiries.
What Should I Do if I Receive a Sponsor Licence Notice of Suspension?
If you have received a sponsor licence notice of suspension, it is important that you:
- Cooperate fully and professionally with UKVI at all times
- Engage the services of a specialist UK immigration team who can help get your suspension lifted
- Respond to UKVI within 20 working days of the date of the notice of suspension, explaining why any grounds may be incorrect and how the matters identified have been resolved with any evidence. Any details you provide at this stage will be factored into the UKVI investigation process and will help determine the final decision they make.
Within 20 days of receiving your response, UKVI will write to you with their final decision. They may:
- Re-instate your licence with an A-rating
- Re-instate your licence with a B-rating (and issue you with an action plan)
- Prevent you from assigning any new CoS
- Prevent the use of any assigned but unused, CoS
- Revoke your licence
If your licence is re-instated with a B-rating, you will need to follow the steps outlined above for downgraded licences.
Sponsor Licence Downgraded
Why Has My Sponsor Licence Been Downgraded?
Following a compliance visit, UKVI may decide to downgrade your sponsor licence from an A-rating (the default for all new licences) to a B-rating. This may happen because a compliance officer has found minor issues with your sponsor licence compliance. For example, they may find gaps in your sponsor management process or in your record-keeping, or you may not be able to provide all of the information they have requested. As a B-rated sponsor, you will not be able to issue any new Certificates of Sponsorship until you have your A-rating re-instated.
What Should I Do if My Sponsor Licence Has Been Downgraded?
If you have been advised by UKVI that your sponsor licence may be downgraded, we recommend that you:
- Cooperate fully and professionally with UKVI at all times
- Engage the services of an immigration Solicitor who can help get your A-rating re-instated
- Respond to UKVI within 20 working days of the date of the letter explaining how the matters identified have been resolved with any evidence
- If UKVI still decide to downgrade your licence, accept and pay for an action plan (this explains all of the issues to be resolved) within 10 days of the decision letter
- Resolve all of the issues identified in the action plan as soon as possible within the 3-month window given
- Have an immigration Solicitor carry out a mock audit to ensure all matters have been resolved before UKVI carries out another compliance visit
- If possible, before the end of the 3-month window, request that UKVI carry out a compliance check to show all issues have been resolved.
At this stage, UKVI may decide to re-instate your A-rating, issue a second action plan, or revoke your licence.
Sponsor Licence Revoked
Why Has My Sponsor Licence Been Revoked?
UKVI may revoke your sponsor licence if:
- You no longer have a trading presence
- You no longer meet the requirements of the sponsorship route/s
- There is a serious or systematic breach of your sponsor duties
- You pose a threat to immigration control
- You have been convicted of a relevant criminal offence or issued with a specified civil penalty
- You are engaging or having engaged in behaviour or actions that are not conducive to the public good
If your sponsor licence is revoked, you will not be able to sponsor new workers, and any existing sponsored workers will have their work visas curtailed. Depending on the circumstances, these visas may be immediately cancelled or shortened to 60 calendar days.
What Should I Do if My Sponsor Licence Has Been Revoked?
If you have been advised by UKVI that your sponsor licence has been revoked, we recommend that you engage the services of an immigration Solicitor who can explain your options. Unfortunately, there is no right of appeal, but it may be possible to request a Judicial Review in very limited circumstances. You will be able to apply for a new sponsor licence after the 12-month cooling-off period.
How Can Immigration Solicitors Help Overturn Sponsor License Suspensions?
Business immigration solicitors such as ours at Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors specialise in providing legal advice and representation to companies who are seeking to navigate the UK Immigration system. Essentially, we can help companies facing a sponsor licence suspension by providing expertise and guidance on the process and representing the company in communication with the Home Office. We can assist with understanding the reasons for the suspension, the consequences of non-compliance, and the best course of action to challenge the suspension or regain their sponsor licence.
Our solicitors at Gulbenkian Andonian can advise on the best way to prepare and submit evidence to support a challenge and represent your company in your communications with the UK Home Office. With our help, companies facing sponsor licence suspensions can improve their chances of a successful outcome and minimise the damage to their reputation and business.
The best way to avoid having your sponsor licence downgraded, suspended, or revoked in the first place is to have periodic mock audits completed by an immigration Solicitor who is independent of your business. If you receive a letter advising that your licence is at risk for any reason, by taking prompt and robust action with the aid of an immigration Solicitor, you will give yourself the best possible chance of having your right to sponsor overseas workers fully re-instated.
Gulbenkian Andonian specialises in the most complex and urgent immigration applications and appeals cases. Our immigration appeals solicitors have successfully assisted many individuals and their family members in overcoming overwhelming odds to remain in the UK; let us do the same for you. Call us on +44 (0) 207 269 9590 or fill out the form below to discuss your matter with one of our friendly and empathetic team.
Having your sponsor licence suspended is a severe matter for companies in the UK that sponsor foreign national employees from the EU and abroad under the Tier 2 Skilled Worker Visa route. This kind of suspension is the revocation of a company’s ability to sponsor employees, which means that the company can no longer sponsor workers from abroad until it is lifted. The Home Office may suspend a company’s sponsor licence if it believes that the company is not fully complying with UK immigration rules or is failing to maintain records and evidence properly of its activities and employment methods.
The consequences of a sponsor licence suspension can be far-reaching and quite damaging to a company’s reputation en masse. For example, the company will no longer be able to sponsor foreign national employees, which could disrupt its operations and potentially lead to a loss of business. In addition, the Home Office might impose financial penalties for non-compliance, and the company may face a negative reputation with clients and employees. Companies with a suspended sponsor licence may also find it challenging to obtain a new sponsor licence in the future, further damaging their ability to sponsor employees and operate in the UK.
There can be plenty of reasons a sponsor licence may be suspended including failure to properly maintain records and evidence, not complying with immigration rules, and not cooperating with the Home Office during inspections. Additionally, companies may be suspended if the Home Office finds that they have sponsored employees who do not meet the requirements for Tier 2 visas, such as those who do not have the necessary skills or qualifications. It is important for companies to be aware of the requirements and obligations of sponsorship in order to avoid a sponsor licence suspension.
Yes, in certain cases, a sponsor can challenge a sponsor licence suspension by making representations to the Home Office to seek a path of dialogue or judicial review. Companies may argue that the suspension was unjustified or that they have taken steps to address the issue. For example, if the suspension was due to failure to maintain records, a company may argue that it has implemented new processes to ensure proper record-keeping in the future. It is important for companies to work with an immigration lawyer or specialist to provide the best representation and evidence for a successful challenge.
During a sponsor licence suspension process, companies need to seek help from an immigration lawyer or specialist who can advise on the process and represent the company in communication with the Home Office. Immigration experts would be able to help companies understand the reasons for the suspension, the consequences of the issues of non-compliance, and the best course of action to challenge the suspension, which may allow them to regain their sponsor licence. Additionally, they can assist with preparing and submitting evidence to support a challenge and represent the company in question through any appeals related to the issue. Seeking help during a sponsor licence suspension can improve the chances of a successful outcome and minimize the damage to the company.
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At Gulbenkian Andonian, we pride ourselves on “Excellence, Experience and Efficiency”. With over 35 years of experience on your side, our team of London based lawyers and solicitors have a wealth of experience advising individuals, families and businesses of all sizes to find clarity on UK law.
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Dr Bernard Andonian – the Co-Founder of Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors, is an experienced Immigration Solicitor, former Judge, and recipient of a PhD in Law from the University of West London. He has over four decades of experience practising UK Immigration, Human Rights and Civil Litigation Law. He has served on the Law Society Immigration Law Panel, achieved numerous groundbreaking decisions in higher courts and is featured in the Legal 500’s Hall of Fame.