Help with sponsor licence revocation
If your business has had its sponsor licence revoked or knows that it is at risk of getting its Sponsor Licence revoked it is time to take specialist legal advice from sponsor licence and immigration solicitors on your best course of action.
If your business is facing a sponsor licence revocation or you are worried about your compliance with sponsor licence reporting and recording duties the friendly expert business immigration team at London based OTS Solicitors can help you. Call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online. Appointments can be arranged via video call, Skype or telephone.
What does Sponsor Licence revocation mean to your business?
The impact of sponsor licence revocation will depend on your business and how reliant it is on sponsored employees working in the UK on Tier 2 (General) visas or skilled worker visas. For example, your workforce may have a high proportion of overseas skilled migrant workers or only have the one worker employed through a skilled worker visa but who plays a key role in research and development and who can't easily be replaced.
Whatever the extent of the impact on your business, if your Sponsor Licence is revoked it means that:
- Your business can't recruit additional workers on skilled worker visas
- Your business can't continue to sponsor existing employees even though they have valid Tier 2 (General) visas or skilled worker visas
- Your sponsored employees will need to leave their Employment with your business and their visas will be curtailed. The Home Office will normally curtail a sponsored worker’s visa to sixty days and within those sixty days your employee will need to find a UK employer with a Sponsor Licence who can offer them a job and allocate them a certificate of sponsorship or find an alternate visa route or leave the UK. If they fail to secure an alternative visa and don’t leave the UK they will be classed as an ‘overstayer’ and this will have implications for any future applications for entry clearance to the UK. If your business continues to employ the workers then the business will be in breach of Immigration rules and right to work legislation and could face civil and criminal penalties. In addition, breaching the Immigration rules and right to work legislation would have a negative impact of your business making a successful sponsor licence application in future.
What is the difference between Sponsor Licence suspension and revocation?
If your Sponsor Licence is suspended then it means that the Sponsor Licence is put on hold during the period of suspension. That, in turn, means that your business can't recruit and employ any new overseas workers on skilled worker visas but can continue to employ its existing sponsored employees. The suspension of a Sponsor Licence can therefore delay or stop recruitment or expansion plans. It can also stop your business from fulfilling orders and contracts if your business doesn’t have the ability to recruit the necessary UK based staff with the right skill set to meet its contractual obligations and is suspended from recruiting skilled migrant workers.
Your business may think that it can get round the problems created by the suspension or revocation of its Sponsor Licence by employing workers on skilled worker visas via an Employment agency. However, Immigration rules say that sponsored workers can't be used as agency workers and that the employer needs their own Sponsor Licence and can't rely on overseas agency staff with work visas.
Is there a right of appeal if a Sponsor Licence is revoked?
There is no right of appeal if a Sponsor Licence is revoked by the Home Office and that’s why sponsor licence and immigration solicitors stress that it is best to spend the time ensuring that all Sponsor Licence reporting and recording duties are met as well as understanding the seriousness of sponsor licence revocation on the business.
- Try to make representations
- Apply for judicial review
- Apply for a new Sponsor Licence after the end of any cooling off period imposed by the Home Office, during which period your business is prevented from applying for a new Sponsor Licence.
Why could a business’s Sponsor Licence be revoked?
There are many reasons why a Sponsor Licence could be revoked. That’s why immigration solicitors need to review the contents of the Home Office letter notifying of the decision to revoke so that they can formulate the best response and action plan.
The main point is that sponsor licences are rarely revoked for minor matters such as the occasional failure to comply with reporting and recording duties. This type of non-compliance is normally dealt with by no action if a business can show it has addressed the procedural issue or the downgrading of the Sponsor Licence from an A rating or the suspension of the Sponsor Licence.
The reasons why a Sponsor Licence is revoked are usually:
- Serious compliance breaches such as a complete failure to carry out right to work checks on both settled and sponsored employees
- The Employment of overseas workers who are subject to Immigration control without the necessary work visa, such as a skilled worker visa
- The inclusion of false information on the sponsor licence application form, such as falsely saying that the company is trading when it isn’t
- Incorrectly employing sponsored employees, for example, paying sponsored employees less than the minimum wage or less than the minimum salary threshold for their job or employing them in a different capacity to that stated on their certificate of sponsorship
- Not cooperating with the Home Office during a Home Office sponsor licence compliance visit or failing to provide information during an investigation or failing to action agreed action points to address reporting and recording issues.
What should a business do if it receives a revocation letter from the Home Office?
- Don’t ignore the revocation letter hoping the problem will go away – it won't unless the business takes action
- Don’t delay – your business only has a limited time period to make representations, for example, that the Home Office has confused your company with another business
- Take specialist sponsor licence and immigration law advice – a specialist can look at whether the best option is representations or judicial review or a fresh sponsor licence application at the end of the cooling off period
- If you are in the midst of recruiting sponsored employees your business will need to stop the recruitment process as it won't be able to employ sponsored employees if its Sponsor Licence is revoked
- Investigate the allegations in the revocation letter and whilst investigating the business (or your immigration solicitor) should contact the Home Office
- Having investigated the allegations in the revocation letter take professional advice to assess whether it is feasible that the revocation could be withdrawn by the Home Office through thorough representations or whether you have the grounds for judicial review proceedings or should submit a fresh application at the end of the cooling off period and what steps the business should take during the cooling off period to stand the best chance of the Sponsor Licence being reinstated.
OTS Solicitors are experts in immigration law and can help your business if there are concerns over your reporting and recording and sponsor licence compliance or with Sponsor Licence suspension or sponsor licence revocation.