Sponsor Licence Suspension: Overview
A sponsor licence suspension is a temporary embargo preventing sponsor licence holders from sponsoring new foreign employees. Your sponsor licence will be suspended if the Home Office believes you’ve reneged on your sponsor duties and could be a possible threat to immigration control.
If the Home Office suspends your migrant worker sponsor licence, you cannot issue certificates of sponsorship to new migrant workers, and your business will be removed from the Home Office’s register of sponsors. However, existing sponsored employees can continue working for you while the UK Visas and Immigration carries out its investigations.
Upon receiving a letter of sponsor licence suspension, it is essential to respond cooperatively and address the reasons for suspension within 20 days of receiving the notice. Failure to do so can lead to the Home Office downgrading or revoking your foreign worker sponsor licence.
- Sponsor Licence Suspension: Overview
- Common Reasons for Sponsor Licence Suspensions
- Sponsor Licence Revocations
- Why are Sponsor Licences Revoked?
- What to Do If Sponsor Licence is Suspended or Revoked
- Implications of Suspended or Revoked Licence for Your Business
- Implications of Suspended or Revoked Licence on Sponsored Workers’ Visas
- How Total Law Can Help
- Frequently Asked Questions
Common Reasons for Sponsor Licence Suspensions
The Home Office may suspend your sponsor licence following scheduled or unannounced compliance visits. The common reasons for this include:
- Failure to prove that your migrant workers meet the required skills and qualifications for the sponsored roles.
- Failure to prove that all positions filled by sponsored migrant workers are genuine vacancies.
- Failure to keep detailed records of foreign employees’ documents, updated contact details, and attendance records.
- Failure to keep the Home Office updated on employees’ compliance with visa conditions or report any problems with your migrant workers.
- Inadequate sponsor management system to monitor and track the immigration status and compliance of foreign workers.
- Failure to notify the Home Office of changes in the immigration status of foreign staff or changes in your business location or operations.
Sponsor Licence Revocations
The Home Office reserves the right to revoke your sponsor licence upon noticing a breach in your sponsor duties or non-compliance to other immigration regulations. A suspended licence can quickly wind up being revoked if you fail to address the underlying causes of your licence suspension within the specified timeframe.
However, the Home Office can revoke a sponsor licence without first suspending it in cases of significant immigration violations.
If the Home Office decides to revoke your licence, you’ll be unable to sponsor new employees, and the Home Office will curtail the visas of already sponsored workers. These existing migrant workers will have to leave the UK within 60 days of receiving the revocation notice unless they get a CoS from another sponsor licence holder.
You’ll also be subject to a cooling-off period of 12 months before you can apply for a new sponsor licence.
Why are Sponsor Licences Revoked?
The Home Office can revoke your sponsor licence for the following reasons.
- You’re found to have given false information in your sponsor licence application.
- Failure to respond to a sponsor licence suspension letter within twenty days of receipt.
- Failure to meet up with the Home Office’s action plan after downgrading your licence to a B-rating.
- Your business goes through a merger, or another company buys your business, and the new company does not apply for a sponsor licence within 28 days of the takeover.
- Your business ceases to trade.
- You’ve received multiple suspensions within a specific timeframe.
- You’ve been found guilty of hiring unqualified or illegal workers more than twice and have exhausted your appeal rights.
Dealing With Sponsor Licence Suspension
Upon receiving a letter of suspension from the UKVIS,
- Promptly acknowledge receipt of the suspension notice.
- The reasons for the suspension are usually stated in the letter. Analyse each cause carefully and address them. Rectify issues with your HR processes, reporting, and record-keeping duties immediately.
- Respond to the suspension letter in writing, meticulously addressing the issues raised in the letter and providing all details requested. Also, attach all relevant supporting evidence to your response. Your response must be submitted to the Home Office within 20 days of receipt of the licence suspension notice.
The Home Office will review your submissions before deciding whether to downgrade, reinstate, or revoke your licence. Except in severe policy breaches, the Home Office typically suspends a licence and allows you to rectify shortfalls before deciding to revoke the licence. The best way to prevent revoking your licence is to take quick action immediately when you’re notified that your licence is at risk of revocation.
It’s best to accept your shortfalls, correct them immediately, and send a well-crafted response to the Home Office. This will require speed and expert assistance because you have just 20 days to make your case, and your response will determine the Home Office’s decision.
Dealing With Sponsor Licence Revocation
If your licence is revoked,
- Promptly acknowledge the receipt of the revocation notice cooperatively.
- Review the reason for your licence revocation and, with the help of your lawyer, determine the best course of action to take to deal with the situation. You cannot appeal the Home Office’s decision, but you can address the issue in other ways. You can:
- Apply for a Judicial review to appeal the decision. This process involves having a Judge review the Home Office’s decision and how they arrived at it. To apply for a judicial review, you must provide sufficient proof (with supporting documentation) that the Home Office’s decision is mistaken, that you meet all the requirements for a sponsor licence, and that you have adequately carried out your sponsorship duties.
- Make a case that your licence revocation will affect many workers and is therefore unfair.
- Accept the revocation and wait one year to apply for a new licence.
- Draw and start implementing a plan to resolve all issues raised by the Home Office immediately.
- Submit a written response detailing how you intend to handle the revocation. If you’re going to challenge the decision, you’ll have to provide sufficient proof that the decision was a mistake or that you have rectified all the identified problems.
Remember that the Home Office’s final decision will depend on the content of your written response and the supporting evidence you provide. Therefore, it is crucial to seek expert legal assistance. A sponsor licence lawyer will guide you in drafting a response that adequately addresses the reasons for your licence suspension or revocation.
Our immigration lawyers are always available to help in the case of a suspended or revoked licence. We will help you determine the best way to handle the situation, gather relevant supporting documents, and maintain contact with the Home Office. You can reach us at 0333 305 9375 or contact us online.
Implications of Suspended or Revoked Licence for Your Business
The Home Office will suspend your sponsor licence if they have reasons to believe that you have failed in your sponsor duties. Following a sponsor licence suspension,
- You cannot assign Certificates of Sponsorship to new overseas workers.
- The Home Office will put all pending CoS applications on hold.
- After their investigations, the Home Office will decide whether to downgrade or revoke your licence.
- If the Home Office downgrades your licence from an A-rating to a B-rating, they’ll provide you with an action plan to rectify the situation. You must pay for the action plan within ten days of your licence downgrade.
- UKVIS will remove your business from the list of licenced sponsors during the suspension period.
- You’ll still need to apply for licence renewal if your sponsor licence is due to expire during the suspension.
- You’ll also still have to perform your sponsor licence duties.
While the Home Office conducts investigations, you must correct the shortcomings and provide sufficient evidence to prove your compliance with sponsor licence duties. You’ll have your licence reinstated upon demonstrating adequate sponsor licence compliance.
The implications are more severe in the case of a revoked sponsor licence. If your sponsor licence is revoked,
- You cannot issue Certificates of Sponsorship to new foreign employees, impeding your ability to recruit needed talent.
- Your business will be taken off the list of sponsors.
- All already issued CoS will be revoked, and you will lose all existing sponsored migrant workers. This can result in business difficulties, lower productivity, and a lag in business growth.
- You can only apply for a new sponsor licence after a cooling period of about 12 months.
Implications of Suspended or Revoked Licence on Sponsored Workers' Visas
A sponsor licence revocation or suspension affects both employers and employees alike. In the case of a suspended sponsor licence,
- Existing sponsored employees are free to continue working.
- Sponsored migrant workers who have arrived in the UK and are due to start are free to do so.
- All visa extension applications of your existing sponsored workers may not be considered during the suspension period.
- Sponsored workers yet to enter the UK will not be allowed entry.
A revoked sponsor licence will affect both existing and new overseas employees. If your licence is revoked:
- The Home Office will curtail the visas of existing sponsored workers, and they’ll be required to leave the UK within 60 days unless they find alternative sponsorship. However, the curtailment will not apply to those whose visas expire in less than 60 days from revocation. They will be unable to extend their visas.
- Sponsored workers already in the UK due to start work will also have their visas curtailed, and those yet to arrive will be denied entry.
How Total Law Can Help
The criteria and responsibilities required to maintain a sponsor licence are so stringent that you can quickly go from having an A-rated licence to having your licence suspended or revoked. If your sponsor licence has been suspended or revoked, Total Law sponsor licence lawyers can help you resolve the issues.
We will carefully look at your case and guide you in mitigating and rectifying issues in your sponsorship management processes. We will help you respond to the Home Office and liaise with them on your behalf.
We are always available to serve you. Call us at 0333 305 9375 or contact us online for immediate assistance.
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A revoked sponsor licence means you cannot hire new overseas workers, and your existing migrant workers cannot continue working for you as you’ll no longer be an eligible UK sponsor.
You cannot issue new certificates of sponsorship once your sponsor’s licence is suspended. This means you can’t hire new foreign workers during the suspension.
It’s not advisable to ignore the Home Office’s suspension notice. Doing so will result in the revocation of your sponsor licence.
You do not have the right to appeal a sponsor licence revocation. However, you can apply for a judicial review if you’re convinced the Home Office’s decision is wrong, and you can prove it. To apply for a judicial review, you must provide sufficient proof (with supporting documentation) that:
- The Home Office’s decision is mistaken
- You meet all the requirements for a sponsor licence
- You have adequately carried out your sponsorship duties.