For an employer who relies on talented migrants to grow their business, having their Sponsor Licence revoked or suspended can have catastrophic consequences. Such an event can damage not only the productivity and turnover of an organisation, its reputation can also be affected.
There are several ways in which a sponsor can lose its licence or have it limited. These are:
- surrender by sponsor
- reduction of Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) allocation
UK Sponsor Licence may be revoked or suspended for several reasons. These include (but are not limited to):
- The Home Office discovering you have employed an illegal worker. It is important to note that ignorance is no defence; the Home Office requires you to have checks and balances in place to ensure all foreign nationals employed by you are legally entitled to reside in the UK.
- Supplying false information on a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) rendering it invalid.
- The salary on the CoS is different from that paid to the Tier 2 employee.
- Non-compliance with the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT), claiming the job was exempt when it was not.
- Not using a CoS to fill a genuine Tier 2 vacancy, instead using it to hire for another position
- Failing to cooperate or hindering a Home Office visit.
There are some actions which will result in the mandatory revocation of your Sponsorship Licence. The three mandatory downgrade circumstances are:
- a sponsor certifies that a migrant will not claim benefits and the migrant does claim benefits with the sponsor’s knowledge
- the Home Office is not satisfied that the sponsor is using the processes or procedures necessary to fully comply with its sponsor duties, and
- the sponsor has not sent any documents or information requested by the Home Office within the given time limit
One – pay attention to a sponsor revocation or suspension letter
If the Home Office sends you a letter stating it is considering downgrading, suspending or revoking your licence, DO NOT IGNORE IT.
If you receive a letter stating your Sponsor Licence may be suspended or downgraded, it will state you have 20 working days from the date of the letter to respond.
Any response must be in writing.
Only in exceptional circumstances will the Home Office extend the deadline. There will be no hearing, but you may provide written statements and other evidence to support your response.
The Home Office will consider your response to the notice of suspension or relocation and provide a decision within 20 working days.
Two – work with professional advisors to address Home Office concerns
Points-based-system sponsorship can be extremely complex, which is why it is crucial to have support from expert advisors. If you breach your sponsor duties and the Home Office becomes alert to this, they may set out strict criteria that you have to meet to improve your HR systems. If you fail to meet their conditions , they have the discretion to downgraded or revoke your licence.
An experienced business immigration solicitor will partner with you, providing the best advice in relation to the improvements you need to make to comply with the improvements required. By examining your HR systems, and working with your Key Personal, an immigration law expert can quickly identify the strengths and weaknesses of your systems. This will lead to a swift development of policies and procedures to ensure the improvements laid down by the Home Office are implemented.
Three – remember prevention is better than the cure
The consequences of having your Tier 2 and 5 Sponsor Licence revoked or suspended will not only affect your business. Revocation or suspension of a sponsor licence can lead to severe penalties for employees holding a Tier 2 visa. The Tier 2 employee’s leave could be curtailed, and if they fail to find sponsored employment with another Sponsor Licence holder, they may have to leave the UK.
To prevent adverse action from the Home Office, it is crucial to ensure HR systems are in order before applying for a UK Sponsor Licence. By engaging an experienced immigration law firm to help you in making the initial application process, all your HR policies and procedures can be audited, weaknesses identified and improvements made to ensure your organisation can comply with its sponsorship duties.
Continuing to have experts manage your Sponsor Management System and keep on top of the vast record-keeping duties required after the licence has been granted can help organisations avoid the risk of having their licence downgraded, revoked or suspended. Home Office officials can make unannounced visits to businesses and this can result in suspension or downgrade notices being issued.
To avoid any nasty surprises, it is sensible to have a mock audit conducted on your HR systems every six months. By doing so, any discrepancies can be identified quickly and dealt with. This takes away an enormous amount of stress; organisations who invest in business immigration advice may feel nervous if Home Office officials turn up unannounced, but they can be confident in knowing their systems are fully compliant.
To avoid the costly damage to both your business and its employees that having your Sponsor Licence suspended or revoked can cause, it is best practice to engage a business immigration law solicitor to project manage your Sponsor Licence application and compliance from start to finish.
OTS Solicitors is one of the most respected immigration law firms in London. By making an appointment with one of our immigration Solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available in the UK today. We can assist you with all aspects of Sponsor Licence and Tier 2 (General) applications.
If you wish to discuss any of the points raised in this blog, please phone our London office on 0207 936 9960