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How to Protect Your Sponsor Licence

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Do you know that your sponsor licence is at increased risk of suspension?

The Home Office has produced recent statistics on its hike in compliance monitoring, suspensions and sponsor licence revocations.

Our Immigration Solicitors look at the statistics and examine what you should be doing to protect your sponsor licence.

UK Online and London-Based Immigration Solicitors and Sponsorship Licence Lawyers

For immigration advice call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

Sponsor licence 2024 compliance statistics

The Home Office has released sponsor licence compliance information for the first quarter of 2024. The information reveals that there has been an increase in sponsor licence suspensions and revocations.

There had been a marked decrease in Home Office monitoring activity during the pandemic and its aftermath but that period now seems to be well and truly over with a rise in interventions from 2023 onwards.

What do the figures mean in real terms?

From January to March 2024 the Home Office:

  • Suspended over 300 sponsor licences
  • Revoked over 200 sponsor licences

You may think that after the general election, the focus will move away from sponsor licence compliance. However, both main parties have said that they are committed to reducing net legal migration to the UK so the likelihood is that sponsor licence suspensions and revocations will remain at their current level or continue to rise in number.

Why do the sponsor licence statistics matter?

You may think that Home Office intervention won't happen in your business and hopefully your confidence is well placed. But sponsor licence compliance activity by the Home Office is on the rise, perhaps because of the political climate surrounding net migration figures or additional Home Office capacity because caseworkers are no longer having to process sponsor licence renewal applications.

Some sectors are under the Home Office spotlight more than other areas. For example, those nursing homes and care homes sponsoring carers on Health and Care Worker Visas in the adult care sector or those employing overseas workers on Skilled Worker Visas in restaurants and hotels in the hospitality sector.

The increased sponsor licence activity matters because if your business finds its sponsor licence suspended there are significant ramifications:

  • The time and expense of getting your sponsor licence back to A rating
  • The inability to recruit additional sponsored workers whilst your sponsor licence is suspended – you may think that suspension would not be an issue for you as you are not currently planning to recruit but your situation may change quickly if workers hand in their notice and you are unable to replace them with UK workers because of the UK skills shortage
  • Staff departures because employees are demoralised. Resignations can be expected from workers on Skilled Worker Visas who realise the potential for the Home Office to revoke your licence and who are easily able to find another sponsoring employer because of the skills shortage. They may not want to wait for your sponsor licence problems to be sorted and risk their Work Visa being curtailed. Alternatively, key personnel may leave the company because they fear the blame for the sponsor licence suspension even if the Home Office action was down to HR staff being overworked and unable to keep up with reporting and recording duties or lacking ongoing Legal Training on how to manage the sponsor licence
  • Reputational damage. This can be particularly important in some sectors as businesses do not want to be commercially associated with a company that is under investigation by the Home Office or has had its sponsor licence suspended. Some commercial contracts will even include a provision that party A needs to notify party B of sponsor licence suspension or revocation to manage any reputational damage by association with a company that has had its sponsor licence suspended for non-compliance

Why are sponsor licences being suspended?

There are many reasons why sponsor licences are being suspended by Home Office officials but there are some common themes:

  • Discrepancies between the certificate of sponsorship and real life – the sponsored employee may not be doing the job on their job description or the employee may not be being paid the salary for a job with the standard occupational classification code on their certificate of sponsorship
  • Not carrying out checks including right-to-work checks
  • Not reporting. For example, failing to report reportable absences or changes in the address of sponsored workers or changes in the sponsored employee’s job description

Some relatively minor non-compliance will not result in a suspension but with increased numbers of Home Office compliance visits our Sponsorship Licence Lawyers are seeing that when a Home Office official descends on a company for an audit it can be the start of the Home Office finding a series of failures to report and record. Taken together small issues could be enough to warrant sponsor licence suspension.

Protecting your business from sponsor licence suspension

Our Business Immigration Solicitors can help protect your business from sponsor licence suspension. Many of our tips are simple common sense but your key personnel will not be able to put those measures in place if they are time-poor because their sponsor licence management duties are too much for them on top of all their other HR or administrative work or they don’t understand why seemingly meaningless reporting on the sponsor management system is vital to the success of the company.

If your sponsor licence is at risk of suspension, or if you are worried that it could be, it is best to take a hard look at current systems rather than just tweak one procedure.

Protecting your business from sponsor licence suspension could involve:

  1. Use of a professional Sponsor Licence Management Service – this could be cost-neutral when you factor in the cost of key personnel or when you realise that key personnel would be better deployed in HR roles to improve recruitment or staff retention
  2. Making sure that your key personnel are the right people for the job – you may have appointed them in a rush when applying for your first sponsor licence and now find that your level one user is overworked and that it would be more efficient to promote your level two user to level one and free up the senior employee’s time for HR issues, such as dealing with grievances and employment tribunal claims or improving staff retention
  3. Immigration Law Training because even if your key personnel are keen to get things right and committed to complying with their reporting and recording duties the requirements from the Home Office keep changing

Our Sponsorship Licence Lawyers provide:

  • Sponsor Licence Management Services
  • Immigration Law Training tailored to the needs of your business or sector-specific
  • Ongoing immigration and sponsorship licence advice on key aspects such as certificate of sponsorship allocation or changes to reporting and recording duties or preparing for an announced Home Office compliance visit
  • Sponsor licence troubleshooting if problems are spotted by key personnel or others within the company or the business is alerted to areas of concern by the Home Office
  • Sponsor licence advice if your sponsor licence is suspended and you want help on how to work with the Home Office to get your licence back to an A rating
  • Assistance if your sponsor licence is revoked and you want help with applying to judicially review the Home Office's decision to revoke or the length of the cooling off period

UK Online and London-Based Immigration Solicitors and Sponsorship Licence Lawyers

For immigration advice call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.


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