Sponsor Licence Suspended
Have you received notification of a sponsor licence suspension?
We can help to protect your licence.
Sponsor licence suspension
A suspended sponsor licence can have a devastating impact on your business, affecting your ability to sponsor Tier 2 and Tier 5 visa workers.
The Home Office has the power to suspend a sponsor licence where it alleges an organisation has failed to manage its licence correctly and to meet its immigration compliance duties.
If you have received formal notification from UKVI that your company’s sponsorship licence is at risk of suspension, your next steps will be business-critical.
Depending on the facts of the case, your options could include challenging the Home Office’s decision to suspend the licence. You will also need to act fast to determine how you will respond and to submit your response within the given timeframe.
Failing to respond on time is likely to result in your licence being revoked.
We can help
A suspended sponsor licence has the potential to impact your business by affecting your ability to hire non-EEA skilled workers.
DavidsonMorris’ team of specialist UK immigration lawyers bring substantial experience in advising companies facing a sponsor licence suspension.
With extensive experience in challenging licence suspensions and reinstating employers’ permission to employ sponsored workers, we can minimise the impact of a suspended licence on your business operations.
Whether you have been given initial warning that a licence suspension is being considered, or whether the licence has been suspended, we can help. Our services include:
- Assisting with understanding the grounds for suspension
- Advice on collating the supporting evidence
- Advice on remedial steps to address areas of non-compliance
- Support in engaging with UKVI
- Advice and support in relation to any subsequent follow-up scrutiny such as Home Office site visit
We will assess all the facts and merits of your case to identify grounds to appeal the Home Office’s decision. We can support you by advising on all compliance and evidentiary requirements critical to a prompt response and dealing with Home Office officials on your behalf.
Sponsor licence suspension: employer considerations
How you respond to the suspension notification will determine the outcome of the matter. You will be required to respond within the given timeframe, typically 20 days, or the licence may be revoked. Acting in full cooperation with the Home Office will also be beneficial in resolving the matter.
When considering your options to challenge a sponsor licence suspension, it will be important to address the reasons given by the Home Office for the suspension. The notification letter will ordinarily be extensive, detailing the specific breaches under the terms of the licence and explaining the grounds for the suspension. Is there a factual error in these grounds, that can be challenged with supporting evidence? Are there measures you need to take to rectify the breach?
In general, these will relate to breaches of immigration compliance duties in areas such as record-keeping, reporting and employee monitoring.
Close analysis of this information will be critical to determining your next steps and your prospects of making a successful challenge.
If the decision was based on a factual error, you may be able to challenge the decision with supporting evidence or further explanation.
Proportionality may also be a concern. If the breach was relatively minor, it could be argued that a licence suspension is a disproportionate measure and the impact on the organisation in issuing a suspension is not justified.
For example, if the loss of a sponsor licence will mean 20 sponsored workers lose their jobs, and the business is forced to close resulting in further job losses to the rest of the workforce, it could be argued that with corrective action and full cooperation with the Home Office, the licence should be reinstated on the basis of wider economic benefit.
There may also be circumstances when challenging a suspension would not be the best course of action. For example, if the allegation is factually correct, a challenge to the decision will incur unnecessary costs without real prospects of success.
If the allegations are correct, your focus should be on remedial measures you should take to rectify the breaches identified by the Home Office and demonstrate you have taken action to prevent the issues from happening again.
Whatever the strategy, you will need to respond to each point raised, providing evidence to support your case, within the stated timeframe.
The suspension letter will advise the deadline for your response. In most cases, this will be 20 working days. In practice, this is a tight timeframe in which to carry out any necessary investigations, collate evidence and prepare the response.
If the suspension is as a result of a compliance visit, you should request copies of the Home Office’s compliance report and all notes, documents and interview transcripts relating to the inspection.
Scrutinising the Home Office’s conduct in investigating your organisation and issuing the suspension can give rise to grounds for challenge if the Home Office failed to meet certain standards or to follow legal procedure, rendering any enforcement action unlawful.
If you have been asked to submit further information to the Home Office, ensure you comply within your response. Should any inconsistencies be identified in your documents, you will need to acknowledge this and explain the reasons for the discrepancies.
Decision-making time can vary depending on the size of your organisation, the number of sponsored workers you have and the complexity of the issues.
The decision on your licence suspension will be one of the following outcomes. If your response is successful, your licence should be reinstated, along with your permission to employ sponsored workers.
In some cases, the Home Office may downgrade your licence to a B rating. If you do not rectify the issues and follow the action plan, your licence could be revoked.
The Home Office has powers to revoke a licence where the organisation has failed to comply with its duties or to engage actively with the Home Office.
Should your licence be revoked, any pending sponsored visa applications will be refused and your existing sponsor workers’ leave will be curtailed.
Seeking professional support is recommended, given what is at stake.
We are highly experienced in supporting sponsor licence holders facing suspension. At the initial stage, we would review the facts of your case, including the alleged breaches as notified by the Home Office and your current general position to ascertain areas for challenge, such as weaknesses in the investigation process.
We would then provide a recommended course of action, involving steps to address the cause of breaches and bring your systems and policies to requisite compliance standards.
This could take one of many approaches, determined by the strength of your position and the case against you.
This will inevitably involve careful liaison with the Home Office, which we would undertake on your behalf. The aim is to negotiate to bring the matter to a satisfactory conclusion for both parties whereby the Home office is satisfied the issues raised in the suspension letter are addressed and the employer is able to retain their licence.
In instances where early resolution is not possible, while rare, we are experienced in managing any resulting court proceedings. This may include making an application for interim relief preventing the Home Office from taking your matter to revocation while court proceedings are live. This will be in the interests of your Tier 2 workers, who will be forced to find alternative entry clearance or to leave the country should your licence be revoked.
For help and advice with reinstating your sponsor licence suspension, please contact us.