A revoked sponsor licence will see your company lose its ability to recruit and employ Tier 2 and Tier 5 non-EEA workers.
With the resident labour market falling short in skilled talent across many sectors, sponsoring skilled migrant workers has for many organisations become essential in remaining competitive and even operational. The impact of losing a Tier 2 sponsorship licence would for most companies be business-critical.
Any Tier 2 workers that you employ in the UK will have to leave their job at your company, and leave the UK within 60 days or by their visa expiry date if sooner, unless they can make a new, successful visa application to stay in the UK within the timeframe.
Have you received a sponsor licence revocation letter?
If you have received notification from UKVI that your sponsor licence is being revoked, you will have a limited timeframe in which to take action and respond. Your next steps will be critical in influencing the outcome of the Home Office enforcement action.
Step 1: Acknowledge receipt
Your first step should be to acknowledge receipt of the letter.
Proactively engaging with the Home Office throughout the revocation process does, in our experience, work in your favour, and can help to demonstrate a willingness to cooperate and resolve issues. Remain responsive and cooperative throughout the process.
Step 2: Understand the allegations
The next step is to understand the grounds for revocation. The letter of notification will detail the basis on which UKVI has arrived at its decision to proceed to revocation stage.
There are many potential reasons why your sponsor licence may be revoked. These could include:
- No genuine vacancy: it may be alleged that the sponsored worker is carrying out a different role to the one on the Certificate of Sponsorship, or is not working for your company at all.
- Resident Labour Market Test breach: where the company has failed to meet the requirements under the RLMT such as record keeping and meeting the stringent timeframes for advertising vacancies.
- Poor record-keeping: companies that do not consistently meet the record keeping duties on sponsor licence holders.
The grounds should in turn influence how you respond and the action you take.
For example, it may be that UKVI’s grounds are based on an error of fact. In such circumstances, you will need to compile sufficient evidence to support correction of the factual error.
Step 3: Devise your response strategy
Gather together all relevant personnel involved in the management of the sponsor licence to discuss and confirm the position of the company in light of the alleged breach(es). Discuss the grounds for revocation, the desired outcome and address any compliance issues.
Depending on the alleged breach(es) and the wider circumstances of your case, it may be possible to seek a temporary downgrading of your licence which would permit existing Tier 2 workers to continue to be employed by you in the UK.
In some cases, the breach may be so severe that the Home Office has acted reasonably.
In other cases, it may be appropriate to build a case to demonstrate that the revoked sponsor licence would have wider implications rendering the revocation a disproportionate measure. For example, for one client, we successfully illustrated in our response to the Home Office that loss of the sponsor licence would result in the company losing a substantial business contract – the result of which would be redundancies affecting more than the Tier 2 workers.
You will need to act fast to agree the response to UKVI, assigning responsibilities for action points and remedial measures. Timescales and ownership must be clearly communicated internally and to the Home Office, in order to convince that issues are being addressed effectively.
Step 4: Gather evidence
Sourcing relevant and accurate evidence to support your response will be critical. Depending on the size and make-up of your company, this may be a challenging exercise, where documents are owned and maintained within different functions and sites e.g. payroll information. The Home Office will not be interested in internal barriers or difficulties. Indeed these may exacerbate the issues around non-compliance with sponsor licence duties.
Step 5: Wider considerations
When building your response, think beyond the immediate or obvious impact of the revocation. Consider the revocation in context. In addition to providing documentary evidence, your response should where possible demonstrate the wider economic impact of a revoked sponsor licence, such as redundancies beyond the affected Tier 2 workers.
Step 6: Remedy breaches
If the Home Office has raised compliance issues in the revocation notice, these will need to be addressed and rectified as a priority. All measures planned and taken to improve compliance should be documented and presented as part of your response to the Home Office.
In the event the revocation is withdrawn, you should still expect to remain under Home Office scrutiny for the foreseeable future. As with any sponsor licence holder, the UKVI reserves a right to undertake a compliance visit to request and inspect corporate documentation as deemed necessary. Expect to be higher up the priority list where there have been prior compliance issues.
Need help with a revoked sponsor licence?
At the earliest point, it is recommended that you seek legal advice on how you approach the revocation, by for example remedying breaches in compliance and negotiating a licence downgrading, and how to respond most effectively to the Home Office.
DavidsonMorris’ immigration law specialists have substantial experience in helping companies facing a revoked sponsor licence. We can advise on the merits and strengths of your case, and advise on the most appropriate course of action.
We can help you understand the grounds of the alleged breach, and advise on a strategy to respond to UKVI within the timeframes, and support you in addressing and remedying any areas of non-compliance to ensure you retain your licence.
If your sponsor licence is at risk of revocation or you have been served notice that is has been revoked, speak to one of our business immigration law experts today.
Sponsor licence revoked: FAQs
How does a revoked sponsor licence affect visa workers?
If an employer loses their sponsor licence, their migrant workers’ visas will be cut short, that is, curtailed. When an employer loses their sponsor licence through revocation, their migrant workers’ visas will also be affected. The certificate of sponsorship is effectively cancelled, removing the workers’ permission to be employed lawfully by the employer. Their visa is then curtailed, and the worker has 60 days to apply for a new visa or to leave the UK.
If the sponsor licence has been revoked, will the company remain on the register of sponsors?
No, a revoked licence will see the company removed from the register of sponsors. Only if the licence is reinstated with the company be placed back on the register.
Can we challenge a sponsor licence revocation?
Your response to the Home Office should address all of the allegations being made against your company. This will mean providing extensive evidence in support of your case to reverse the revocation, such as interviews with employees, preparing statements and collating internal and external documents.
How long do you have to respond to a Home Office revocation notice?
You will have 20 days to respond to the revocation notification letter from the Home Office.
How can DavidsonMorris help?
We are experienced UK immigration lawyers with specific expertise in helping employers dealing with a revoked sponsor licence. We will assess the Home Office’s allegations and advise on a response strategy aimed at reversing the decision.
Last updated: 26th January 2020