Guide on what to do if your sponsor licence application is refused by the Home Office

sponsor licence application is refused

With the end of free movement for EU citizens more UK employers are having to make their first Sponsorship Licence application to the Home Office to enable them to recruit skilled migrant workers from either non-EEA countries or from the EU. Some UK companies are receiving refusal decisions on their Sponsor Licence applications. In this guide we look at what your business needs to do if your Sponsor Licence application is refused by the Home Office.


UK immigration and Sponsor Licence solicitors 

London based OTS Solicitors specialise in business immigration law. For expert advice from the team of work visa and sponsor licence solicitors on your best options if your Sponsorship Licence application has been refused call 0203 959 9123 or contact us here.  Appointments are available through video conferencing, Skype or by telephone.   


Right of appeal against the refusal of a Sponsorship Licence application   

Our immigration solicitors are often asked to represent UK business owners on an appeal against the refusal of a Sponsor Licence application after the company has submitted its own application or used their corporate lawyers to make the application. The first thing that our business immigration team have to advise is that there is no right of appeal against the refusal of a Sponsorship Licence application. There may however be other options for your company to pursue, depending on circumstances. Our immigration solicitors can help you work out what’s the best option for your business. 


After advising on appeal rights and Sponsorship Licences, our business immigration team will next check to see if your company’s Sponsor Licence application was rejected or refused by the Home Office. That’s an important differential. 


Steps to take if a Sponsorship Licence application is rejected by the Home Office 

If the Home Office rejected your sponsor licence application the likelihood is that your application was considered invalid by the Home Office official who assessed the application.  


Sponsorship Licence rejections can often be down to something as straightforward such as sending the wrong application fee. Whilst you may think that a Sponsor Licence application can't be rejected for the wrong fee the reality is that the Home Office Sponsor Licence fee depends on the size of your company so it can be easy for a mistake to be made if you aren’t used to submitting Sponsorship Licence applications.


The positive is that if your Sponsor Licence application is rejected for payment of the wrong fee the Home Office will normally refund the fee and you can resubmit your rejected Sponsorship Licence application as a new application. Immigration solicitors do however caution that it is worthwhile getting your application checked over if it has been rejected to ensure that there aren’t other reasons why your Sponsorship Licence application could be rejected or refused by the Home Office. That’s because rejections and refusals not only cost your business time and money they also slow up your ability to progress your recruitment plans to hire skilled migrants on skilled worker visas.


Why will a Sponsorship Licence application be refused by the Home Office? 

If your company Sponsorship Licence application is refused by the Home Office then this requires detailed assessment. Common reasons for Sponsor Licence refusals include:

  • Not sending the right paperwork with your application - the documents you need to supply will depend on the nature of your UK company 
  • Sending copy documents in support of your Sponsorship Licence application instead of original or certified copies. Special rules apply to how documents are submitted because of Covid-19 but those rules may change
  • Submitting documents late as immigration Rules specify when supporting paperwork must be submitted, namely five working days
  • Not nominating named key personnel in your Sponsorship Licence application
  • Named key personnel failing the background checks undertaken by Home Office officials as part of the assessment process
  • The company not satisfying the genuine test to qualify for a Sponsorship Licence, for example, not providing evidence of trading or an intention to recruit skilled migrant workers at a skill level suitable for skilled worker visas.   


Some refusal applications just require the reason for the refusal to be carefully considered by specialist immigration solicitors and then the submission of a new application, for example, with a well prepared statement in support of the Sponsorship Licence application or the best documentation to successfully secure your Sponsor Licence with minimum further delay.


Does the Home Office impose a ban on submitting a new Sponsorship Licence application if a first application is refused?

The Home Office does have the power to impose a temporary ban (referred to as a cooling off period) if your company submits a Sponsorship Licence application and the Home Office is sufficiently concerned about the application that it doesn’t consider that your company should be allowed to immediately submit a new Sponsor Licence application.


A cooling off period can be imposed by the Home Office for between six months to five years, depending on the extent of the Home Office concerns. For example, if the Home Office thought the application had been supported by deliberately false paperwork that would justify a long cooling off period. 


Immigration solicitors say that genuine Sponsor Licence applicants can end up with refused applications and cooling off periods and that’s why it’s best to get expert help to check that your company, your proposed key personnel and your paperwork are all in order before you submit your application.


Sponsorship Licence applications and Home Office compliance visits

If your first application for a Sponsorship Licence was refused and you submit a second application then you may face a Home Office compliance visit. During this audit a Home Office official will assess whether your HR executive and HR team have the systems in place to ensure compliance with Sponsor Licence recording and reporting duties. Whilst your HR executive may have excellent systems in place it is best to ensure that they are consistent with what is expected under the online Home Office Sponsor Management System. 


Immigration solicitors can conduct mock audits in advance of the submission of your sponsor licence application or if you are making a second application after an initial refusal.  


Steps to take if a Sponsorship Licence application is rejected by the Home Office 

If your Sponsorship Licence application has been refused then firstly your immigration solicitor needs to check if a cooling off period has been imposed or not. If one has been imposed a specialist business immigration solicitor can advise on whether your company can challenge the imposition of a cooling off period or its length of time.


If your Sponsorship Licence application has been refused without a cooling off period being imposed then your company could:

  • Submit a new application - it would be pointless to do so without first addressing the reasons for the Home Office refusal of the original sponsor licence application or
  • Apply for a Judicial Review of the decision to refuse the Sponsorship Licence application - although your company doesn’t have a right of appeal against the refusal of a Sponsorship Licence application it can apply for a judicial review of the Home Office decision and may succeed if it can be shown that the decision was unlawful, unreasonable or procedurally improper. Immigration solicitors will make a pragmatic and cost effective assessment of the option that’s the best solution for your company as whilst you may be keen to show that the Home Office decision was flawed it may be quicker and cheaper to submit a new and revised Sponsorship Licence application.


Judicial Review may be the best process for your company if you need to challenge the imposition of a lengthy cooling off period and the decision to refuse the Sponsor Licence and 

  • Your company has the grounds to apply for judicial review (unlawful, procedurally improper or unreasonable Home Office decision) and 
  • The financial motivation to do so (because of the economic impact on your company of not being able to recruit skilled migrant workers on skilled worker visas).


How can OTS Solicitors help your business with its Sponsor Licence submission?

The sponsor licence solicitors at London based OTS Solicitors are regularly asked to help after a sponsor licence application submitted by a company or by other solicitors has been refused. Our specialist sponsor licence solicitorstherefore have the experience and expertise to advise your company on its best options to secure its Sponsorship Licence. We can also assist your business with Sponsor Licence management, sponsor licence audits and sponsor licence renewal applications to ensure that the operation of your Sponsor Licence proceeds as smoothly as possible. Our immigration solicitors can also answer your questions on the new skilled worker visa and the points based immigration system.


UK Sponsor Licence solicitors 

OTS Solicitors specialise in business immigration and employment law and are recommended in the two leading law directories, The Legal 500 and Chambers Guide to the Legal Profession. For help with what to do after the rejection or refusal of your Sponsorship Licence application and UK sponsor licence advice call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us here. Appointments are available by video conference, Skype or telephone.  


Relevant People: 

For the best expert legal advice and outcome on your UK immigration application, contact OTS immigration solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.


We are one of the UK’s top firms for immigration solicitors and civil liberties lawyers. We can advise on a broad range of immigration issues including Appeals and Refusals, Judicial Reviews, Spouse Visas, Student Visas, Work Permit Visas, Indefinite Leave to Remain, EEA Applications, asylum and Human Rights, British citizenship, All types of visas, Business Immigration Visas, Entrepreneur Visas and Investor Visas.

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