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Has your sponsor licence been suspended? The need for swift action is paramount to avoid further disruption to your business. We specialise in helping you protect your sponsor licence.
A suspended sponsor licence can have severe repercussions for your business, jeopardising your ability to sponsor migrant workers. While sponsoring overseas nationals to fill essential skills gaps can drive growth and competitiveness, it also comes with significant responsibilities. Failure to meet these responsibilities could lead to your sponsor licence being suspended, and in the worst-case scenario, revoked. This not only curtails your permission to sponsor migrant workers but also shortens the leave of existing migrant workers within your workforce.
The Home Office possesses the authority to suspend a sponsor licence when it alleges that an organisation has failed to manage its licence correctly and meet its immigration compliance duties. If you have received formal notification from UKVI that your companys sponsorship licence faces suspension, your next actions are critical.
Depending on the specifics of your case, your options may include challenging the Home Offices suspension decision and responding promptly within the given timeframe. Failing to respond in time could result in your licence being revoked.
Why are sponsor licences suspended? When you become a licensed sponsor, you commit to fulfilling all compliance duties under the UK visa sponsorship regime. These duties aim to prevent the abuse of the immigration system by capturing and retaining information regarding sponsored workers compliance with the Immigration Rules and visa conditions. These duties include:
Failure to adhere to these duties may lead to suspension. The suspension applies across all visa categories under your licence, affecting your ability to assign certificates of sponsorship and sponsor new migrant workers. Your business will also be removed from the public register of sponsors during the suspension.
Existing Sponsored Workers
The suspension generally does not affect the leave of existing sponsored workers, unless the Home Office escalates the penalty to licence revocation. If the Home Office lifts the suspension following your response, the sponsored workers status remains unchanged.
However, if existing sponsored workers are awaiting a decision on a visa extension, their extension application will be put on hold until a decision is made on the suspension.
New Sponsored Workers
New sponsored workers already in the UK who haven not yet started work can commence employment. Those overseas with a visa but haven not begun working will be contacted by the Home Office.
New sponsored workers overseas awaiting a visa decision will see their application placed on hold until the suspension is resolved.
If UKVI has evidence justifying your licences suspension pending a full investigation, they will notify you, providing initial reasons for the suspension. Its crucial to act swiftly during this investigation period, which gives you 20 working days to respond to UKVIs letter.
Your response to UKVI should be in writing and comprehensive, supported by relevant evidence, addressing any suspension grounds you believe are incorrect. Seek professional advice if needed, especially if you are facing exceptional circumstances.
Your response will need to be thorough and robust on all points, with extensive documentary evidence supporting your position. Be prepared for a site inspection by immigration enforcement officials if you haven not already been visited.
Following your response, the Home Office will conduct further investigations into your organisation and its compliance. The suspension remains in effect until UKVI decides on the appropriate action. Your licence could be reinstated if the Home Office is satisfied that the issues have been addressed. However, it may be downgraded to a B rating instead of an A rating, necessitating an action plan for reinstatement. In the worst scenario, it might be revoked, with no right of appeal, and a cooling-off period before reapplying for a sponsor licence. This underscores the importance of promptly addressing and resolving the suspension.
By law, you must conduct Right to Work checks on all workers, including sponsored workers, to ensure they are legally entitled to work in the UK. Failure to do so can result in civil penalties or even criminal prosecution. Right to Work checks should be part of your pre-employment screening process and include follow-up checks on workers with time-limited permission to work in the UK. You have several options for conducting Right to Work checks:
To prevent sponsor licence suspension, follow best practices, including complying with all recording and reporting duties. Respond promptly to requests from UKVI, particularly those related to sponsor licence renewal applications. Keep your sponsorship records up-to-date and ensure your HR practices meet all sponsorship duties. Seek expert advice before any compliance visit or renewal application to identify and rectify weaknesses in advance. This proactive approach minimises the risk of suspension, increasing the chances of no action being taken.
Our team of immigration specialists is here to support you throughout the sponsor licence suspension process. We bring extensive experience in advising organisations facing such challenges.
For assistance with sponsor licence suspension, please contact us today.
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