What happens if sponsor licence is suspended – Tier 2

Home Office can suspend an immigration sponsor licence if they believe that sponsor is breaching sponsorship duties and pose a threat to immigration control. For example when sponsor is assigning certificates of sponsorship (CoS) to migrants who do not qualify to come to the UK.

During the suspension the Home office carries out their further investigations. Sponsor will receive a notice of suspension and will be invited to send their representations and any supporting evidence within 20 working days. On the basis of your response and evidence submitted and the investigations carried out, the Home Office will make their decision to either lift the suspension or revoke the licence.

Consequences of licence suspension

  • If sponsor licence is suspended, it is suspended in all the tiers and categories and sponsor’s entry will be removed from the public version of the register of sponsors during the suspension period.
  • Throughout the period of suspension, sponsor must continue to comply with all sponsor duties and any requirements set out in the Home Office guidance.
  • If sponsor licence is due to expire during the period of suspension, sponsor must still apply to renew it if they want to keep it.
  • Sponsor employer will not be able to assign any CoS certificates while their licence is suspended.
  • When a migrant makes an application supported by a valid CoS assigned before suspension, Home Office will not decide the visa application until the reason for suspension has been resolved, unless the application falls for refusal on other grounds (including where the job is not a genuine vacancy).
  • If a migrant has already been granted entry clearance on the basis of a CoS assigned before licence suspension occurred, but they have not yet travelled to the UK, they will be allowed to enter the UK and start working for their sponsor.
  • Migrants who are already sponsored at the time of the suspension won’t be affected, unless Home Office decides to revoke the licence.

What happens if sponsor licence is reinstated after being suspended?

  • If sponsor licence has been suspended and the Home Office does not later revoke it, the licence will be reinstated either as an A-rating or a B-rating.
  • Re-instatement with a B-rating means that sponsor must comply with an action plan, which will set out the steps that sponsor must take to return to an A-rating. For example, this might include making improvements to record-keeping, improving control over staff who assign certificates of sponsorship (CoS), or improving communication between different branches so sponsor knows when a migrant has not turned up for work. Home Office may also reduce, or set to zero, the number of CoS certificates sponsor is allowed to assign.
  • B-rated sponsor must improve their performance enough to be upgraded to an A-rating within a specified time limit, not exceeding 3 months. If not improved sufficiently, sponsor licence will be revoked.
  • There is also a Home Office fee that sponsor has to pay for the action plan.

Revocation of licence following suspension

If following the suspension, the Home Office decides to revoke sponsor licence, they will write to the sponsor to inform of this. There sponsor will not be allowed to apply for a sponsor licence again until the end of the cooling-off period, which would normally be 12 months from the date the licence is revoked.

There is no right of appeal from the revocation of sponsor licence, but depending on the merits of the case, sponsor may be able to challenge the revocation decision by Judicial Review proceedings on the grounds of illegality, irrationality or unfairness. The Judicial Review process is complex and has a risk of the Home Office litigation costs if the challenge is unsuccessful.  It is therefore vital to carefully consider the merits of your case and seek legal advice prior to starting Judicial Review process.

The note reflects legal position on 1st May 2019 and is for general information purposes only and does not aim  to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. We accept no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please do not hesitate to contact Carter Lemon Camerons immigration team. The specialist team at Carter Lemon Camerons Solicitors can assist you with all immigration and business-related matters. Our years of expertise in these areas mean that we can provide tailored solutions for you. For more details, please contact our immigration team at immigration@cartercamerons.com or +44 (0)20 7406 1000.