Sponsor Licence Revocations

A sponsor licence can be a crucial investment for many firms with a need to hire foreign talent. But what happens if the Home Office revokes your business’s sponsor licence? If this happens to you, our immigration solicitors can help make sure you make the right moves.

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Sponsor Licence Revocations

An organisation that wishes to employ someone from outside the UK to work for it will usually require a sponsor licence to be granted to it by the UK Government. However, once the given organisation has been approved for a sponsor licence by the Home Office, its responsibilities will be only just beginning.

This is because there is a need for organisations holding a sponsor licence to comply with various obligations as set out by the Home Office. If your firm holds a sponsor licence and fails to meet all these requirements, there is a risk that the Home Office will suspend or even revoke your sponsorship licence.

If the Home Office does notify your organisation that you are at risk of having your sponsor licence revoked, it will be crucial to take steps to correct the situation quickly. If your firm does have its sponsor licence revoked, this will mean it immediately loses the right to lawfully employ sponsored workers across all the sponsorship visa categories. That, in turn, might cause immense damage to your business’s operations, in addition to bringing about the curtailment of the visas of any sponsored workers in your employ.

This is a level of disruption and uncertainty that your organisation might not be able to afford. So, please do not hesitate to reach out to our London-based immigration lawyers at Cranbrook Legal, for informed and specialised help and advice on your situation.

Why has my Sponsor Licence been revoked?

The Home Office stipulates a series of requirements for organisations that hold a sponsor licence. If the firm holding a sponsor licence fails to comply with these duties, it runs the risk of having its sponsor licence downgraded, suspended, or withdrawn.

The duties that your organisation must fulfil in order to avoid a revoked sponsor licence, include the following:

  • Checking that your overseas workers possess the skills, qualifications, or professional accreditations that they need in order to do their jobs; it is also expected that you will keep copies of documents showing this
  • Only assigning Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) to workers when they are taking on a job that is suitable for sponsorship
  • Letting UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) know in the event of your sponsored employees failing to comply with their visa conditions

There is a wide range of specific reasons why the Home Office may take the step of revoking an organisation’s sponsor licence. Some examples of such circumstances are detailed below, but please note that this is not an exhaustive list of factors that can lead to a sponsor licence revocation:

  • Your business has ceased to have a trading presence, or never had a trading presence in the first place
  • You have ceased to meet the requirements of the route, or routes, in which you are licensed
  • There has been a serious or systematic breach of your sponsor duties
  • You represent a threat to immigration control in the UK
  • You have received a conviction for a relevant criminal offence, or have been issued with a specified civil penalty
  • You are engaging or have engaged in behaviour or actions that are not conducive to the public good

If you do receive notification from the Home Office that your organisation’s sponsor licence is being revoked, it is crucial that you understand precisely why the department has reached this decision, as the exact reasoning will inform the next steps that you take.

If you would appreciate further tailored advice in this regard, please call our team today on 0208 215 0053.

What are the consequences of revoking my Sponsor Licence?

With so many businesses in the 21st century highly dependent on migrant talent in order to survive and grow, sponsor licence revocation could have extremely negative consequences for your organisation – in practical, financial and reputational terms – as well as for your sponsored workers.

The obvious immediate consequence of your organisation having its sponsor licence revoked, is that you will suddenly lose your ability to issue Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS), which will prevent you from recruiting the foreign workers on which your organisation might depend.

Another effect of sponsor licence revocations is that affected organisations will no longer be able to lawfully employ sponsored workers who are already in their employ. Such workers’ visas will be curtailed, and they will be forced to obtain employment with another sponsor in order to remain in the UK; in the absence of this, it is likely that they will need to leave the country.

As aforementioned, there can also be adverse reputational consequences for an organisation affected by a revoked sponsor licence, as the most talented candidates from overseas might be deterred from applying for open positions at that company.

This gives you all the more reason to move quickly if you receive Home Office notification of sponsor licence revocation. The decisions that you do take, however, should beinformed by the advice of specialised and experienced immigration solicitors.

Does this count as a criminal offence?

Although sponsor licence revocations in and of themselves are not automatically an indication of the offending organisation having broken UK law, some of the reasons why a sponsor licence can be revoked can indeed be related to illegal practices.

For example, in your capacity as an employer holding a sponsor licence, it is expected that you will take every possible step to guard against illegal working practices within your organisation.

Serious contraventions of the UK Immigration Rules are likely to bring about instant revocation of the sponsor licence of the organisation responsible. However, in the case of ‘lesser’ offences such as the employer making cash payments to a sponsored worker or failing to cooperate with the Home Office during an inspection visit, the sponsor licence may instead be merely suspended.

UKVI’s Appendix C: list of civil penalties guidance documentdetails the civil penalties that may lead the Home Office to decide to give your organisation’s existing sponsor licence a B-rating or revoke the sponsor licence altogether, in the event that you are convicted, charged or penalised in relation to any of these examples of wrongdoing. They include, at the time of typing:

  • Carrying clandestine entrants, as per Section 32 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Carrying passengers without proper documents, as per Section 40 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Bringing a passenger to the United Kingdom in breach of an authority-to-carry scheme, as per Section 24 of the Counter-Terrorismand Security Act 2015 and the Authority to Carry (Civil Penalties) Regulations 2015
  • Employing an illegal migrant worker, as per Sections 15 and/or 21 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006
  • Authorising the occupation of premises under a residential tenancy agreement by an adult who is disqualified because of their immigration status, as per Section 21 of the Immigration Act 2014

Would you appreciate further specialised advice and guidance on the factors that might lead the Home Office to revoke your firm’s sponsor licence? If so, you are very welcome to contact our team to request a free consultation.

How can Cranbrook Legal help me challenge the revocation of the Sponsor Licence?

Our immigration lawyers in central London here at Cranbrook Legal possess a high level of knowhow and experience in relation to sponsor licences.

Not only do we help a wide range of UK organisations to get approved for a sponsor licence in the first place, but we can also assist with the complete range of circumstances and requirements that organisations may encounter in relation to sponsor licence revocations.

When you contact our lawyers for a free consultation, we will discuss your situation with you, and begin to consider the best way forward.

Our work with you will include determining the Home Office’s grounds for revoking your firm’s sponsor licence, in addition to advice on collating the most relevant supporting evidence, so that you can build the strongest response to the Home Office and challenge the revocation decision.

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How can I challenge the revocation of my Sponsor Licence?

Organisations do not have any right of appeal against Home Office sponsor licence revocation decisions. However, while you do not strictly have the right to appeal a revoked sponsor licence, there may be grounds for a Judicial Review of the UK Government’s revocation decision.

When you get in touch with our immigration solicitors, we will be able to help establish whether any such grounds exist, so that you can be confident of any challenge being a success.

Judicial Review is complex legal process, and it is important to establish – with the help of experienced legal professionals – whether you will have good enough grounds to pursue a claim. Examples of potentially strong grounds for a claim could include the Home Office having revoked your organisation’s sponsor licence without giving you an adequate reason for doing so, or the UKVI Compliance Officer having madefalse allegations that then led to the sponsor licence being revoked.

After in-depth discussion of your circumstances and options with our team, you may conclude that it would be a better decision to accept the sponsor licence revocation. In that case, you may make changes within your organisation during the “cooling-off period” – the period between the sponsor licence being revoked and your business being permitted to re-apply for a sponsor licence – to address the issues that led to the sponsor licence being revoked.

Such changes could include the development and implementation of HR processes and procedures to guard against any future lapses in compliance. You might also provide your relevant employees with training to help them effectively manage your organisation’s sponsor licence responsibilities.

A major advantage of doing this is that as part of this process, you will be able to gather evidence that your firm has resolved the issues causing the sponsor licence to have been revoked in the first place. You will then be able to provide this evidence when you next apply for a sponsor licence after the “cooling-off period” has come to an end, to maximise your chances of a successful application.

Naturally, the right decisions for your own organisation will depend on your particular circumstances and needs. So, please do not hesitate to call our immigration specialists now, on 0208 215 0053, for tailored advice and guidance.

What happens if my challenge against the Sponsor Licence revocation is successful?

If, as a result of the Judicial Review, UKVI is found in violation of the law, it will be required to reverse its decision and pay costs to you, the sponsor (otherwise referred to as the ‘claimant’).

Please note, however, that if the court finds against you on the basis of UKVI not being in error, you will be required to pay UKVI’s legal costs.

This underlines the importance of taking the highest-quality legal advice, from knowledgeable and experienced specialists in immigration law like our team at Cranbrook Legal, so that you can be sure of having good grounds for a claim before you launch a Judicial Review.

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Contact our Immigration Solicitors In London on 0208 215 0053 or
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Sponsor Licence Revocation Frequently Asked Questions

1. If I do not challenge the revocation of the Sponsor Licence, can I apply again for a Sponsor Licence at a later date?

Unfortunately, if your organisation has its sponsor licence revoked, you will not be allowed to apply for a new sponsor licence for a specified period of time. This is typically referred to as the “cooling-off period”, and is normally 12 months from the date of the sponsor licence revocation. However, “cooling-off periods” can be as long as five years in the case of particularly serious breaches.

Please note that a “cooling-off period” will also apply in the event that you decide to surrender your firm’s sponsor licence while the Home Office is in the process of taking compliance action against you, but before it has actually revoked your licence. In this situation, the 12-month “cooling-off period” will commence from the date the Home Office accepts your notification of surrender.

If you do decide not to challenge the sponsor licence revocation, and to instead apply for a new licence once the “cooling-off period” has ended, the Home Office will treat your application the same as it would have done if you were applying for a sponsor licence for the first time. You will, however, be required to demonstrate prior to your re-application, that you have addressed any reasons for the revocation of your previous sponsor licence.

As the UK Immigration Rules do not give you any right to appeal a revoked sponsor licence, if you have been unsuccessful taking the Judicial Review route or you have decided with your immigration lawyer to not challenge the Home Office’s decision, you will likely have no option but to wait for the “cooling-off period” to conclude.

Once that “cooling-off period” has elapsed, your organisation will be entitled to apply again to the Home Office for a sponsor licence – and if you do decide to take this route, the Home Office will treat your application the same as any other sponsor licence application.

With our immigration specialists’ extensive knowhow and experience in handling sponsor licence applications, we can help maximise your likelihood of being successful with your sponsor licence application after the “cooling-off period” has come to an end. Our work can include helping you resolve any of the breaches or compliance issues that led to your sponsor licence being revoked in the first place.

Please call 0208 215 0053 for further information about how our immigration solicitors in central London could help you.

In the event that you do decide you would like to challenge the Home Office’s decision to revoke your organisation’s sponsorship licence, it will be of imperative importance to gather evidence that supports the response you wish to make. This will maximise the chances of you achieving the outcome that you desire, which may even include your sponsor licence merely being temporarily downgraded, instead of being revoked altogether.

It will greatly help, of course, if you know what that response will actually be. So, before you start bringing together evidence, you will need to discuss the situation with your relevant team members and legal advisors – the latter potentially including our own award-winning experts in immigration law here at Cranbrook Legal.

From there, you will be able to agree on a strategy that your team is comfortable with – at which point, it will be time to start obtaining relevant and accurate evidence to support your response to the Home Office.

This gathering together of evidence might be a trickier task for some organisations than it is for others – indeed, poor and/or inconsistent record-keeping may have been a factor in your business having its sponsor licence revoked in the first place.

For some firms, some important documents – such as those in relation to payroll – might be owned and maintained across various functions and premises, so the process of sourcing relevant evidence will need to be well-coordinated.

As a broad rule, your organisation having its sponsor licence revoked will mean it also immediately loses the right to employ its current sponsored workers. This could mean, depending on your business and the national origins of your employees, you are effectively no longer permitted to employ most or all of your current non-UK national workers.

It is important to note that while an organisation in the UK will typically need a sponsor licence in order to hire someone from outside the UK to work for them, this is not the case for all groups of foreign nationals who might be working for your company.

The groups of people that firms in the UK can employ without the need for a sponsor licence include:

So, even in the event that your organisation is subject to a revoked sponsor licence, you will be entitled to continue employing any members of your workforce in the above categories.

If, though, there are other foreign nationals among your company’s present employees – including citizens of the European Union (EU), Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland who arrived in the UK after 31 December 2020 –it is likely that you will have needed a sponsor licence in order to employ such people. These are the workers that you will cease to have the right to employ as a result of a sponsor licence revocation.

However, the exact immediate effect that the revocation of your firm’s sponsor licence has on your sponsored workers on the Worker and Temporary Worker routes, will depend on the below:

  • If the Home Office believes that the given sponsored worker was actively and knowingly involved in the reasons for your organisation’s sponsor licence being revoked – in other words, if they were complicit in this –it will immediately cancel all of the worker’s remaining permission. This will mean that the worker has no permission remaining, andwill be required to leave the UK immediately or face enforced removal.An example of a sponsored worker being complicit in this way, would be if they had agreed that you would arrange a non-existent job for them as a way to enable them to come to the UK.
  • Alternatively, the Home Office may judge that your sponsored worker was not actively or knowingly involved in the reasons for the sponsor licence revocation. In situations like this of the worker not being judged to be complicit, the Home Office will usually shorten the employee’s remaining permission to 60 calendar days. If the given worker only has a maximum of 60 calendar days’ permission remaining at the time the Home Office considers cancellation action, the worker’s permission will not normally be shortened any further than this. If this situation applies to your own sponsored worker, the 60 days or less of remaining permission could give them the time and opportunity to apply for permission to stay in the UK, on a route for which they qualify. Otherwise, once their remaining permission expires, the worker will need to leave the UK or face enforced removal.

With a Judicial Review being such a specialised and complicated legal process, it is vital that you receive the very best legal advice prior to taking this route, so that you can be sure of having a strong chance of success in this endeavour.

Our central London-based law firm operates on a fixed-fee basis for the majority of our immigration services. This will give you crucial predictability with regard to the costs, so that you can budget accordingly. There will be no additional costs or hidden charges for you to worry about.

To find out more about the likely costs of challenging a sponsor licence revocation with our award-winning assistance and expertise in immigration law, please consult our fees page. It is also important to remember that we offer the opportunity of a free consultation to those enquiring about our services; please call 0208 215 0053 or contact us online for further information.

To help ensure organisations’adherence with their sponsor licence responsibilities, the Home Office often arranges compliance visits to licence-holding firms’ premises.

You may receive prior notice of such a visit, or a Home Office official might visit your organisation unannounced. It may be likelier that a given visit is unannounced if it wasprompted by intelligence such as HMRC reporting possible irregularities, or even simply because there have been concerns in the past about your organisation’s sponsor licence compliance.

When a Home Office official visits your organisation’s premises for a sponsor licence compliance visit, whether announced or unannounced, a key component of the visit is likely to be an interview of relevant staff. If the visit is announced in advance, the Home Office may tell you which members of your personnel it wishes to interview for this purpose.

However, you cannot assume that the visiting Home Office official will onlyinterview your named sponsored staff. So, you are advised to suitably prepare your key personnel and sponsored staff, presuming that any of them could be interviewed.

If a Home Office official does visit your organisation’s premises and carry out such an interview, you are entitled to ask that a copy is provided of the handwritten interview notes they make. These notes should be provided to you at the end of the visit.

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