Category Archives: Tier 2

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.

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.