As a licensed sponsor, the Home Office considers that businesses and educators will benefit directly from migration and as such are expected to play their part in ensuring that the immigration system is not abused. Once a business or educational institution obtains the title of a licenced sponsor it is expected to comply with its sponsor duties and it must take responsibility for each migrant it has sponsored to work or study. Failure to comply with the Home Office Sponsor Licence duties can result either in a Sponsor Licence Suspension or a Sponsor Licence Revocation.
Sponsor Licence Suspension/Revocation
The Home Office has the power to suspend a business’s Sponsor’s Licence if they believe the organisation or key personnel are breaching their duties and pose a threat to immigration control. In these circumstances, the Home Office will suspend the licence temporarily whilst they make further enquiries and the business will have its name removed from the Home Office’s register for Sponsors. The Home Office will inform businesses by way of a letter and they may be given the opportunity to make representations as to why their Sponsor Licence should not be revoked.
Immediate Revocation of a Sponsor Licence
The following are some of the reasons for the Home Office to revoke your Sponsor Licence straight with immediate effect:
- You are found to have provided false information in support of your Sponsor Licence application;
- Your business has run into difficulty such as it has gone into liquidation or you have a bankruptcy order against you;
- Your business is sold or you cease to have an operating/trading presence in the UK; or
- You have been issued with the maximum civil penalty for an illegal worker.
In these circumstances, you will not be granted a right of appeal and your only remedy may be to judicially review the Home Office’s decision. Crucially, any migrant workers employed by your organisation will find that their leave is reduced to 60 days and it is advisable that they consult an expert immigration lawyer for advice as to their options.
Temporary Revocation of a Sponsor Licence
The following are some examples of when the Home Office may make the decision to revoke a Sponsor Licence but may give the business the opportunity to make submissions against this decision:
- Your Sponsor Licence application was prepared by a firm whose authorisation was subsequently removed;
- You fail to pay migrant workers the appropriate salary;
- You fail to provide documents required by the Home Office to evidence you are complying with your Sponsor Licence duties;
- You pay a migrant sponsored worker in cash;
- You fail to co-operate with UKVI compliance visits; and
- You are found to sponsor a migrant who has not complied with the conditions of their permission to stay in the UK and you did not follow good practice set out by the Home Office.
Our business immigration lawyers are aware that the above list is not exhaustive and regularly consult with businesses that face revocation for other reasons. On these occasions, our specialist immigration team have been instructed to prepare detailed representations in favour of businesses which feel they have complied with their duties and should not be subject to Sponsor Licence Suspension or Sponsor Licence Revocation.
Downgrading a Sponsor Licence (B-rating)
In some situations, the Home Office may downgrade sponsor licences to a B-rating. In our experience, this could be when UKVI compliance officers are not satisfied that the business is using the correct procedure to comply with its sponsor duties or when a business has not complied with UKVI’s request for information/documents within the time frame.
Commonly, if you are a business which the Home Office wishes to investigate, you will be sent a letter by UKVI in which you are informed of the action which will be taken and you will be afforded the opportunity to make written submissions as to why you should maintain an A-rating or how you intend to change your processes and procedures to ensure that you will maintain an A-rating.
Student Sponsor Licence Revocation
As with business sponsors, educational institutions also have to comply with their sponsor duties otherwise the Home Office will use its powers to revoke the sponsor licence.
If the Home Office decides to revoke an academic institution’s sponsor licence, the sponsor will be given the opportunity to respond to the findings in writing usually within 20 working days (unless the Home Office grants them an extension in exceptional circumstances). The Home Office will consider any representations the sponsor makes but, unless these demonstrate that no serious breach of the sponsorship duties has occurred, the sponsor’s licence is highly unlikely to be reinstated.
Where an academic institution’s sponsor’s licence is revoked, the school will be banned from the Register of Sponsors; usually for 2 years. This ban will also apply to the key personnel appointed by the institution.
An academic institution sponsor can continue to teach students after their licence is revoked for six months or until the end of the student’s current academic year depending on whichever is the longest. Where a common academic year end does not apply to all students, each case will be considered on an individual student basis. Where the Home Office does not consider that any of the sponsor’s students should be permitted to continue studying, they will write to each student curtailing their leave to 60 calendar days from the date of the letter.
Our Business Immigration Solicitors in London
Our business immigration lawyers are regularly instructed to make submissions with supporting evidence to demonstrate that the organisation had robust processes and procedures in place and sponsor duties were being complied with. It is important to be aware of the Home Office’s expectations so you are able to maintain a reputation of being an A-rated sponsor.
We are a UK law firm based in Middle Temple, London and our solicitors are fully authorised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). Contact our professional business immigration team today and we can offer you a consultation in person or via telephone or Skype so we can explore your options. You can leave us a message on our Contact Form or give us a call on 02071830570.