Category Archives: Law

What To Do If Your Sponsor Licence Is Downgraded, Suspended, or Revoked

What To Do If Your Sponsor Licence Is Downgraded, Suspended, or Revoked

If you have recently received notification from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) that your sponsorship licence is at risk due to non-compliance, the action you will need to take to retain or regain your sponsorship licence will depend on whether it has been suspended, downgraded, or revoked. UKVI is constantly assessing and checking if employers are meeting their sponsor licence obligation and duties, and if not, they may take action that prevents them from continuing to sponsor overseas workers. In this article, we will explain the difference between a sponsor licence that has been suspended, downgraded, or revoked and what to do in each case.

What to do if your sponsor licence is downgraded

All sponsor licences, when first issued, are granted with an A-rating, meaning that a) the employer is meeting their sponsorship compliance obligations, and b) their ability to sponsor overseas workers is not restricted. UKVI may downgrade an employer’s sponsor licence from an A-rating to a B-rating if they have minor concerns regarding compliance. This may happen, for example, if an employer is late in reporting a change in circumstances via SMS. UKVI often downgrade sponsor licences as a step before suspension or revocation, allowing the holder the opportunity to resolve the matter.

The good news is that if your licence has been downgraded, by taking appropriate and prompt action to resolve the underlying compliance issue (i.e. fixing the process), you will quickly be able to re-establish your A-rating.

Action to take
  • Respond to UKVI within 20 days of receiving the notification letter that your licence may be downgraded, providing any details and evidence showing that your licence should not be downgraded
  • If your licence is still downgraded, you will be asked to pay a fee for an action plan. Your sponsorship action plan will outline the steps you now need to take (e.g. to improve your record-keeping). If you pay the fee within 10 days, you will be able to continue using your sponsor licence, and your action plan will be sent to you. Alternatively, if you are not currently sponsoring anyone, you may choose not to pay the fee and simply surrender your licence. If you choose not to pay the fee or take the necessary action, your licence will be revoked (i.e. removed).
  • Once you receive your sponsorship action plan, you will have 3 months to resolve the compliance issues identified. At the end of this period, UKVI will carry out further checks and if they are satisfied, they will either a) revoke your licence if the issues remain, b) provide a second action plan if new issues are found, or c) restore your A-rating.

What to do if your sponsor licence is suspended

UKVI states, “If we believe that you are breaching your sponsor duties and/or pose a threat to immigration control, or are engaging in behaviours or actions that are not conducive to the public good, we may suspend your licence while we make further enquiries”. When a licence is suspended, an employer is no longer able to issue new Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS).

Action to take
  • Respond to UKVI within 20 days of receiving the notification letter that your licence may be suspended, providing any mitigating details and evidence showing that your licence should not be suspended.
  • On receipt of your response, UKVI will review this information and then will either:
    • re-instate your licence with an A-rating
    • re-instate your licence with a B-rating (and issue you with an action plan) – in which case refer to the above section
    • prevent you from assigning any new CoSs
    • prevent the use of any assigned, but unused, CoSs, or
    • revoke your licence – in which case, see the next section.

If your sponsor licence is revoked

The Home Office may revoke your sponsor licence for a wide range of reasons, including if there is a serious or systematic breach of your sponsor duties or if your business poses a threat to immigration control. It is important to note that if your licence is revoked, you are no longer able to sponsor overseas workers, and any existing visas for your sponsored workers will be cancelled.

Unfortunately, there is no right of appeal against a decision to revoke your licence, and importantly, you will not be able to apply for another sponsor licence until 12 months, or more has passed since the date of revocation (this is referred to as the “cooling off period”).

Final words

Sponsor licence revocation typically only happens following a very serious breach of the sponsorship rules or where several opportunities to resolve the matter have been missed. This is why it is so important to take early action to resolve any problems identified by UKVI. This is also why it is so important to engage an immigration Solicitor from the very outset if you have concerns that your organisation may not be compliant with its sponsorship duties or if UKVI has advised you of such concerns. Robust and effective sponsorship systems and processes, backed up by regular mock audits carried out by an immigration Solicitor, are the only true ways to protect your sponsorship licence and, hence, your ability to hire and retain valued overseas workers.

For assistance with your immigration law matter, phone us on 0121 777 7715 to make an appointment with one of our SRA Regulated Immigration Solicitors based in Birmingham and London.

Please note that this article does not constitute legal advice.

A Place of Safety

Discarded Toy Bear

If you or your children are in immediate danger, please call 999 and ask for the police. You can also call the 24-Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247.

It is hard to imagine the terror of being in a foreign country with no friends or family and suffering domestic violence from your partner and/or their family. However, help is available (see details at the bottom of this page). Furthermore, victims of domestic abuse who are in the UK on a Spouse Visa, Unmarried Partner Visa or Civil Partnership Visa can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). This ensures they can stay in the UK free from visa restrictions if their relationship breaks down due to domestic violence.

Domestic violence/abuse includes an occurrence or series of occurrences of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading, and/or violent behaviour, including sexual violence, in most cases by a partner, ex-partner, family member or carer. Both men and women can be victims.

It can include, but is not limited to:

  • Physical violence
  • Emotional and mental abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Economic abuse (withholding money or refusing to allow you to work)
  • Coercive control
  • Online or digital abuse
  • Harassment and stalking
  • Forced marriage and female genital mutilation
How can I apply for ILR if my relationship has broken down because of domestic violence?

Many migrant victims of domestic violence flee the family home utterly destitute. If you manage to escape to a refuge or a friend’s house, you can apply for a Destitute Domestic Violence Concession. This will not only ensure you have limited leave to remain in the UK regardless of your visa situation but that you can access public funds so you can pay for food, housing etc.

Eligibility for the Destitute Domestic Violence Concession depends on you proving:

  • you entered the UK on a Spouse, Civil Partnership or Unmarried Partner Visa,
  • your relationship has broken down because of domestic violence,
  • you need access to public funds to get away from your abuser, and
  • you intend to apply for ILR as a victim of domestic violence.

If your relationship has broken down because of domestic violence, you can apply for ILR immediately. You do not have to wait five years. To qualify, you need to meet the following eligibility criteria. You must:

  • have been given permission to remain in the UK as the spouse, civil partner or unmarried
  • partner of a British citizen or a person settled in the UK
  • have evidence to show that during your time in the UK on one of the above visas, your relationship broke down because of domestic violence.

  • meet the suitability criteria, for example, you have not committed any criminal offences whilst in the UK or submitted any false information in any visa applications
Providing evidence of domestic violence

Evidence that can show a caseworker at UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) that you have suffered from domestic violence include:

  • an application for or the granting of a Non-Molestation Order and/or Occupation Order
  • a police report showing that they have visited your address because of a domestic violence incident
  • your spouse/partner has spent time in prison for abusing you
  • medical reports detailing that your injuries are consistent with those caused by domestic violence
  • a letter from a refuge stating that they believe you have been subjected to domestic violence
Getting legal support

If your relationship has broken down because of domestic violence and you want to apply for ILR so you can remain in the UK, legal help is available. Victims of domestic abuse can apply for legal aid, and you may be exempted from paying the ILR fee. An experienced immigration lawyer who is registered with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) can provide you with the advice you need and represent you in making your application. You must contact an immigration Solicitor as soon as possible.

Further help and support are available from the below organisations.

National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) – 0800 970 20 70
Refuge – 0808 2000 247 (24 hours)
Women’s Aid 0808 200 0247 (24 hours)
ManKind – 01823 334 244
Galop LGBT Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0800 999 5428

Based in Birmingham and London, UK Migration Lawyers is one of Britain’s premier immigration law firms. Please phone our office on 0121 777 7715 to make an appointment with one of our immigration Solicitors.

Investor Visa Route to End December 2017
Investors Encouraged to Apply Now

In December 2017, the Tier 1 Investor Visa will be withdrawn as a means to enter and reside in the UK. This will be a blow, not only to foreign investors who want to extend their portfolio to the UK market, but for UK businesses who rely on foreign capital to grow.

The Investor Visa, as it is now, provides a wealth of advantages to applicants who have £2 million to invest in Britain’s stable and robust markets. Unique benefits include:

  • there is no need to meet English language requirements, provide business plans, be a certain age or have a certain level of education
  • dependents (a spouse or children under 18 years) can enter and reside in the UK
  • travel in and out of the country is unrestricted
  • an applicant’s spouse is able to seek employment
  • property can be purchased immediately
  • applicants can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after five years (or less depending on the amount invested)
  • applicants can apply for British Citizenship one year after being granted ILR

For high-net-worth individuals, the Tier 1 Investor Visa is the most flexible, expedient way to conduct business in the UK.

If the Investor Visa is working so well, why withdraw it?

Fear of allowing in those whose wealth was obtained by dubious means seems to be the driving factor for ending the Investor route, along with the visa developing a reputation as being a way for the super-rich to ‘buy a European passport’.

In 2014, the Investor Visa was subjected to significant reform; the most important being the requirement of £1 million in investment funds being raised to £2 million.

Other changes included:

  • a requirement that all £2 million had to be invested (previously 25 percent of the funds could be put into UK property in which the applicant could reside)
  • applicants can no longer borrow any of the funds
  • applicants can now be refused if immigration officers have reasonable grounds to believe the funds were obtained unlawfully or if they have concerns about the character and conduct of the party “providing the funds”

These reforms saw a substantial drop in the number of high-net-worth individuals applying for an Investor Visa, and we believe that there are enough safeguards in place to prevent ‘dirty money’ coming into the UK via the Investor route.

A vast majority of enquiries we receive regarding the Investor Visa are from people who see opportunities, not just to expand their investment portfolio, but to take advantage of the first-class education, cultural opportunities and stable political and economic environment that the UK is renowned for.

The need for fast action

Wealth managers, advisors and other high-net-worth intermediaries need to act now and advise their clients on the withdrawal of the Investor Visa in a mere 19 months’ time.

The required £2 million may take some time to accrue as all funds must be owned and not borrowed. Clients also need to be advised that at the time of application these funds must have been in the applicant’s account for 90 days which brings the deadline much closer. Any investigations by the UK Border Agency may also prolong the process.

Expert legal advice

The withdrawal of the Tier 1 Investor Visa has raised a sense of urgency among investors. The downturn in emerging markets has forced high-net-worth individuals to return to the more stable UK and US markets. Britain is predicted to become the world’s fourth largest economy over the next two decades, and the European Union generates a GDP of around €14.3 trillion (2014). This figures, taken together with the advantages a Tier 1 Investor Visa has to offer applicants, means advisors should be informing their clients of the changes as soon as possible. This will allow time for successful applications to be made.

The amount of capital involved and the complexities of the UK immigration system make it imperative that experienced legal advice is sought before applying for an Investor Visa. At UK Migration Lawyers, we have years of experience guiding high-net-worth individuals through the application process. We also work with wealth managers, real-estate advisors and other professionals who can assist with school placements and finding domestic help, both in and outside London.

To make an appointment or enquire further phone our office on 0121 777 7715.

UK Migration Lawyers is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA Number 497640). Accredited immigration Law Solicitors. UK Migration Lawyers Ltd. / All rights reserved. Company Registration No 06702262 / Registered in England and Wales.