Dealing with Suspension / Revocation of Your Tier 2 Sponsor Licence
Having your Tier 2 Sponsor Licence suspended or revoked can have devastating consequences, not only on your business but also on its ability to deliver products and services. In addition, your non-EEA employees may be forced to leave the UK if your Sponsor Licence is revoked, which could have deep consequences for their careers and livelihoods.
UKVI is making a concerted effort to eliminate illegal workers through increased compliance audits of Tier 2 Sponsor Licence holders. All aspects of the HR systems and Tier 2 Sponsor Licence compliance contained in Tier 2 and 5 Policy guidance for sponsors may be investigated. This is resulting in many more Tier 2 Sponsor Licence holders receiving licence suspensions and revocations without right of appeal. Businesses are facing the threat of losing their skilled workforce and their ability to hire non-EEA skilled workers, in addition to steep fines and penalties.
At A Y & J Solicitors we understand the challenges that Tier 2 Sponsor Licence holders face today, and we provide expert legal advice to ensure you remain compliant with Sponsor Licence duties and responsibilities. In addition, if your licence has been suspended or revoked, we can advise you on the best steps to take to either avoid full revocation or have your revoked licence restored.
What are the reasons my Sponsor Licence could be revoked or suspended?
A Sponsor Licence can be revoked either on a mandatory or discretionary basis.
Circumstances in which a Sponsor Licence can be revoked are listed in Annex 5 of Tier 2 and 5 Policy guidance includes:
- you stop trading for any reason, including selling the business or it goes into liquidation
- you have been issued with a civil penalty for employing illegal workers, and the fine for at least one of the workers was the maximum amount
- you are convicted of a relevant offence; these include bribery, money laundering, tax avoidance and various offences under the Immigration Act
- you have been B-rated and have not met any of the requirements of your action plan within the specified period
The circumstances which could invoke a discretionary revocation from the UKVI are listed in Annex 6 and include:
- you become legally banned from becoming a company director
- you fail to comply with any of your Sponsor Licence duties
- you do not have an authorising officer in place
- you have been paying a sponsored migrant in cash
UKVI uses the option of suspending a sponsor’s licence where it has concerns that a sponsor may be breaching their duties and responsibilities or otherwise poses a threat to immigration control, and a mandatory revocation ground does not apply.
When UKVI suspends a sponsor’s licence, it may follow one of two procedures. If it has sufficient evidence to suspend the licence without the need for a further investigation, it will write to the sponsor including detailed reasons for the suspension and invite the sponsor to respond to the suspension decision. If immigration officials require more time to examine a breach of sponsor licence duties or threat to immigration control, it will indicate the initial reasons for the proposed suspension in writing and advise that further investigations will take place.
What should I do if my Sponsor Licence is suspended or revoked?
Immediate action must be taken if your business receives a suspension or revocation letter. In either situation, immediately contact a solicitor with expertise in Tier 2 Sponsor Licence suspensions and revocations. Even if your notice from UKVI indicates no right of appeal, there are options your solicitor can use to have your licence reinstated and your business interests protected. An example includes challenging the revocation via a Judicial Review (more on this below).
If you receive a letter of suspension from UKVI, you must respond in detail to all issues noted in the letter within 20 working days. It is crucial to address each issue and provide evidence that supports your answers. Always communicate with UKVI in a respectful, professional manner.
A good immigration solicitor will carefully evaluate the information given, and advise you on the best approach to resolving your suspension/revocation. Even in cases where there is no right of appeal, there is still hope if the case has merit.
A London based multinational firm received an unannounced compliance audit in the spring. During their audit, Home Office representatives investigated many areas of the business from HR practices to interviewing sponsored employees. During the visit, Home Office representatives identified some issues which led to the suspension of sponsor licence.
Shortly after, this business received a letter from Home Office indicating that their sponsor licence had been suspended and they had 20 working days to address the Home Office’s concerns. The company responded to the Home Office promptly. A few weeks later, they received another letter from the Home Office notifying them that their sponsor licence had been revoked with no right of appeal. Without their skilled Non-EU workforce, this company would cease to be able to operate. They contacted us with an urgent request for assistance.
A strong case in defence of the company was prepared, and the Home Office’s decision was challenged through a Judicial Review proceeding. As a result, the Home Office reinstated the licence; as a result, the firm remains in operation with their workforce and future secure.
What is a Judicial Review?
If your license has been revoked with no right of appeal, the only venue for recourse is a Judicial Review. To proceed with this route, you must retain an SRA-regulated solicitor who has the right to High Court proceedings.
A Y & J Solicitors are SRA regulated and experienced in Judicial Review actions. Often a sponsor can have their licence reinstated successfully after only the first level in proceedings, ensuring a prompt return to business.
Our immigration consultants can help if you Sponsor Licence has been suspended or revoked
A Y & J Solicitors have a strong track record of having Tier 2 Sponsor Licences reinstated. If you need urgent expert legal assistance, or if you’re concerned your company is vulnerable to a Sponsor Licence suspension or revocation, please contact us today on +44 20 7404 7933 or email us at [email protected]. We’re here to help.
Disclaimer: No material/information provided on this website should be construed as legal advice. Readers should seek an appropriate professional advice for their immigration matters.