A Sponsorship Licence Lawyers Guide to What to do if Your Sponsor Licence is Suspended banner


A Sponsorship Licence Lawyers Guide to What to do if Your Sponsor Licence is Suspended

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Has your business had its sponsor licence suspended? Are you not sure what to do or where to turn? The one thing that you should not do is delay and hope the problem will go away. Sponsorship Licence lawyers say it won't and delay will just make it harder to get your sponsor licence reinstated to an A rating. In this article, our immigration solicitors look at your best options if your business has its sponsor licence suspended and 3 steps to take.

UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors and Sponsorship Licence Lawyers

For sponsor licence advice call the expert London immigration lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

What does sponsor licence suspension mean?

If the Home Office suspends your sponsor licence, you still have a licence but the licence is at risk if you don’t work with the Home Office to address the issues that led to the suspension.

If your business is licensed to sponsor more than one type of overseas employee (such as sponsoring skilled worker visa applicants or senior or specialist worker visa applicants) then the suspension of your sponsor licence operates across all areas. This is the case even if the Home Office has only flagged up concerns in one area, such as your reporting and recording duties with skilled worker visa applicants.

The suspension of your sponsor licence means:

  • Your business can't recruit any new overseas workers through sponsorship. This can be a major problem if you have made a job offer to an overseas recruit who requires a certificate of sponsorship. Employment and Sponsorship Licence lawyers recommend offers of employment are made conditionally. Only overseas workers who are already in the UK can start work. If recruits have a pending visa application it will be put on hold
  • If an existing sponsored employee has a pending visa extension application the application won't be processed until the sponsor licence has either been reinstated or revoked. If the sponsor licence is revoked the worker will not be able to remain in your employment and will either need to leave the UK or find a new employer with a sponsor licence
  • Your business details will be removed from the central registry of businesses holding a sponsor licence

The suspension of your sponsor licence does NOT mean that during the suspension period your business no longer has to comply with sponsor licence reporting and recording duties.

If your sponsor licence is going to expire during the suspension of the sponsor licence then a renewal application will need to be made. Otherwise, the sponsor licence will lapse. If a sponsor licence is not renewed the business will not be able to continue to sponsor its existing sponsored workers after the licence has lapsed.

Reasons for sponsor licence suspension

Common reasons for sponsor licence suspension include:

  • The Home Office discovers you have employed an illegal worker. Ignorance of the law on illegal working or the need to conduct right-to-work checks is no defence; the Home Office requires you to have checks in place to ensure all workers employed by your business are legally entitled to work in the UK
  • Supplying false information on a certificate of sponsorship rendering the certificate invalid
  • The salary on the certificate of sponsorship is different from that paid to the skilled worker
  • Not using a certificate of sponsorship to fill a genuine vacancy
  • Failing to cooperate or hindering a Home Office visit

What to do if your sponsor licence is suspended

If your sponsor licence is suspended your best option is to speak to Sponsorship Licence lawyers to understand your options and help you decide whether to:

  • Challenge the decision to suspend or
  • Say you accept the Home Office criticisms and explain how you have addressed the Home Office concerns about the operation of your sponsor licence

The Home Office should then consider your representations and decide whether to reinstate your sponsor licence. If the Home Office is fully satisfied that the breaches have been remedied, lessons learnt, and procedures changed, your business may get its sponsor licence reinstated with an A rating. This is an end to your problems but the threat of suspension should be treated as a wake-up call so you don’t let sponsor licence reporting and recording and compliance standards slip in future.

If the Home Office only give your business a B rating sponsor licence, then they will combine the B rating with a Home Office action plan. Your business has to pay for the Home Office action plan and the plan has to be complied with within 3 months of issue. The Home Office won't extend an action plan or allow a business to continue to pay for additional action plans. Instead, the sponsor licence will be revoked.

The action plan is individual to your business and its contents will depend on the nature of the Home Office’s concerns about the operation of your sponsor licence or your compliance with reporting and recording duties.

Challenging the sponsor licence suspension

You can challenge a sponsor licence suspension but Sponsorship Licence lawyers will work with you to check out that challenging the Home Office decision is in your best interests. If your business has committed clear breaches of sponsor licence reporting and recording duties it may be preferable to work with the Home Office on an action plan to beef up your sponsor licence compliance procedures.

Not acting is not an option as failure to act will result in further Home Office input and the revocation of the sponsor licence. Your business can't then just apply for a new sponsor licence as the Home Office impose a cooling-off period during which time you can't apply for a fresh sponsor licence.

Three actions to take to mitigate the impact of sponsor licence suspension

If your sponsor licence is at risk Sponsorship Licence lawyers recommend you take action:

  1. Pay attention to a sponsor licence revocation or suspension letter - if the Home Office sends your business a letter stating it is considering downgrading, suspending or revoking your licence, DO NOT IGNORE IT. The letter 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 can 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
  2. Work with Sponsorship Licence lawyers to address Home Office concerns - sponsorship can be complex, which is why it is crucial to have sponsor licence support from business immigration lawyers. If you breach your sponsor duties and the Home Office becomes aware of the breaches, they may require your business to change its HR system. An experienced business immigration solicitorwill partner with you, providing the best advice about the improvements you need to make to comply with the Home Office requirements. By examining your HR systems, and working with your key personnel, Sponsorship Licence lawyers 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.
  3. Prevention is better than the cure -the consequences of having your sponsor licence suspended will not only affect your business but also your sponsored employees and their families. 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 experienced immigration solicitors 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. To avoid any nasty surprises, it is sensible to have a mock audit conducted on your HR systems every 6 months. By doing so, any problems can be identified quickly and dealt with. This takes away an enormous amount of stress; organisations who invest in business immigrationadvice may feel nervous if Home Office officials turn up unannounced, but they can be confident in knowing their systems are fully compliant.

UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors and Sponsorship Licence Lawyers

For sponsor licence advice call the immigration lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

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