Sponsor Licence Suspension


Sponsor Licence Suspension

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've received formal notification from UKVI that your company's sponsorship licence faces suspension, your next actions are critical.

Depending on the specifics of your case, your options may include challenging the Home Office's suspension decision and responding promptly within the given timeframe. Failing to respond in time could result in your licence being revoked.

Understanding the Grounds for Suspension

Why are sponsor licence 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:

  • Record-keeping: Maintaining documentation of sponsored workers as required under Appendix D of the Immigration Rules. For example copies of passport, Right to Work (RTW) Check, recruitment evidence, BRP, DBS, Pay Slips, NI number PXX Forms, e.g. P45, P60 and history of the worker’s contact details.

  • Monitoring & Reporting: Reporting significant changes to employment contracts and unauthorised worker absences exceeding 10 days.

  • Complying with immigration laws.

  • Not engaging in behaviour or actions that are not conducive to the public good.

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't yet started work can commence employment. Those overseas with a visa but haven't 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.

Responding to a Suspension Notice

If UKVI has evidence justifying your licence's suspension pending a full investigation, they will notify you, providing initial reasons for the suspension. It's crucial to act swiftly during this investigation period, which gives you 20 working days to respond to UKVI's 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're 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't already been visited.

What Happens After Your Response

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.

Additional Penalties for Immigration Non-Compliance 

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:

Manual Document Checks: Verify identity using acceptable original documents.

Online Checks: Workers provide their share code.

Digital Checks: Use Identity Document Validation Technology.

Employer Checking Service: Use the Home Office online system. Ensure that your chosen method aligns with the worker's immigration status and follow Home Office guidance.

No Appeal, But a Path Forward

There is no right of appeal against a decision to revoke a sponsor licence. However, there may be grounds for a Judicial Review of the revocation decision. Our sponsor licence specialists excel in assessing the merits of applying for a Judicial Review and expertly guiding sponsors through the challenge process.

In some circumstances, it may make financial and commercial sense to accept the revocation and use the cooling-off period to address the underlying issues. This includes developing and implementing HR processes and procedures to ensure compliance, delivering training to relevant personnel, and demonstrating that the previous revocation grounds have been corrected.

At Work Permit Cloud, our team of seasoned UK immigration lawyers specialises in assisting companies facing the challenges of sponsor licence revocation. We provide comprehensive support, including:

Understanding Grounds for Revocation: We help you grasp the reasons behind the revocation.

Collating Supporting Evidence: Assistance in gathering the necessary evidence.

Crafting a Comprehensive Response: We guide you in building a response that considers the broader business and economic implications of a revoked sponsor licence.

Addressing Non-Compliance: Advice on taking remedial steps to rectify areas of non-compliance.

Engaging with UKVI: We support you in your interactions with UK Visas and Immigration.

Managing Site Visits: Guidance and support related to Home Office site visits, including follow-up actions.

Considering Judicial Review: While there's no appeal against licence revocation, we can assess whether grounds for Judicial Review exist.

Licence revocations are daunting, and effective handling is essential to maintain any chance of reinstatement and avoid further punitive action. We provide guidance on your options, considering the severity of alleged breaches, the number of affected sponsored employees, and your conduct and that of the Home Office during investigations.

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.

Seek Professional Guidance

For help and advice with reinstating your sponsor licence after revocation, please contact us. Our experienced team is here to guide you through this challenging process.

If your sponsor licence is revoked, pending sponsored visa applications will be refused, and your existing sponsored workers' leave will be curtailed. Your organisation will lose permission to recruit and employ workers from all visa categories under the licence, and your name will be removed from the register of sponsors.

Following a sponsor licence revocation, your organisation will be prohibited from applying for a new licence for a specified cooling-off period, typically 12 months, but potentially up to five years for serious breaches.

Can you appeal a licence revocation?

There is no right of appeal against a decision to revoke a sponsor licence. In limited circumstances, there may be grounds for Judicial Review of the revocation decision.

How can WorkPermitCloud help?

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.

Book our professional Immigration service at info@workpermitcloud.co.uk

How long do I have to respond to the Home Office suspension notice?

In most cases, you have 20 working days from the date of the notification to respond.

Yes, you can challenge the decision by responding to the suspension notification within the specified timeframe with supporting evidence.

Sponsored workers can continue working during suspension unless the Home Office revokes the sponsor licence.

Ignoring the notice can lead to further actions against your organisation, potentially including licence revocation.

Revocation cancels all Certificates of Sponsorship, making it impossible to employ migrant workers. Sponsored workers' visas will be curtailed, and any pending applications may be refused.

It is required by the Home Office that sponsor licence holders must comply with all sponsor duties. Failure of compliance may result in fines for up to £20,000 per illegal worker, sponsor licence downgrade to a B-rating, sponsor licence suspension or revocation.

Once an UK organisation granted a sponsor licence, sponsors must follow their sponsor duties to maintain their sponsor licence, including: Keeping up-to-date records of sponsored workers and their immigration status Reporting any changes to the worker's employment or circumstances to the Home Office Complying with the law on preventing illegal working Co-operating with the Home Office in any compliance checks or audits

A sponsor licence compliance is a set of rules and regulations that UK organisations must follow when sponsoring non-British nationals to work in the country. These rules are set by the UK Home Office and are designed to ensure that sponsorship licence holders are operating in compliance with the regulations and are fulfilling their sponsor duties.

What documents are needed for a UK sponsorship licence?

For a UK sponsor license, you'll need to provide documentation of your company's registration, the identities of key employees, proof that you need migrant workers, HR policies and procedures, and proof that you can track and monitor them. In the course of the application procedure, the Home Office may also require supplementary paperwork.

Having a legal business, demonstrating the need for migrant workers, putting in place acceptable HR and compliance procedures, and pledging to follow the sponsor duties outlined by the Home Office are all prerequisites for obtaining a sponsor license in the UK.

The duration of a UK sponsor license is four years. However if the Home Office determines that the group is not upholding its sponsorship obligations or if the organization is discovered to be engaging in any illegal activity, it may be revoked at any moment.

Application completion and case complexity are two variables that can affect how quickly a sponsor license application is processed in the UK. Nevertheless, it usually takes 8 weeks to process an order.

An organization must submit an online application form to the Home Office along with a fee in order to become a licensed sponsor in the UK. The firm must prove during the application process that it is an actual company, that it has a genuine need for migrant labor, and that it has sufficient HR and compliance processes in place.

An organization can sponsor foreign workers to come and work for them in the UK if it has a sponsor licence, which is approval from the UK government. When hiring qualified workers from outside the UK, firms must get a sponsor license from the Home Office.