Sponsor Licence Revocation – Don’t Let It Happen To Your Business
In November 2016, nine people from the Philippines, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka were abruptly given 60 days to leave the country, despite some of them having worked at a care home in Docking legally for years.
The reason? The care home’s UK Sponsor Licence was revoked by the Home Office. The care home is one of five owned and operated by Armscare Ltd, whose managing director Raj Sehgal went public in an attempt to garner public support against the Home Office’s decision to take away his right to employ workers from outside the EEA.
Speaking to the Eastern Daily Press, Mr Sehgal said:
“We have about 20 staff at Docking plus the manager, and nine of them have been sent letters giving them 60 days to leave Britain. We have about 40 residents at the home, who are elderly and vulnerable, and nobody has thought about how this will affect them”.
“We have an ongoing recruitment drive, but it’s very hard to get new staff in places such as Docking, which is very isolated and hard to get to. It’s especially hard coming up to the Christmas and New Year period”.
“We have to sponsor immigrants from outside the EU to work in this country and our homes are inspected yearly by the Home Office. This year, it has revoked the licence.”
This sad case highlights the effect the revocation of a UK Sponsor licence can have, not only on the owners of an organisation but its workers and the community as a whole.
It also highlights how crucial it is for Sponsor Licence holders to ensure their policies and procedures are fully compliant with Home Office regulations and guidelines.
Sponsor Licence compliance requirements – the essentials
When an organisation obtains a sponsor licence, it must fulfil a number of duties and responsibilities to the Home Office. When applying for the licence, it is declaring that it can comply with these. These include:
- monitoring immigration status and preventing illegal employment
- maintaining migrant contact details
- monitoring and reporting migrant activity via the Sponsor Management System
- ensuring that relevant professional registrations and accreditations have been obtained
- reporting various changes of circumstances to the sponsor to the Home Office
- cooperating with the Home Office as and when required
- complying with all aspects of UK employment and immigration law (for example, paying the minimum national wage or salary threshold and only employing a foreign worker if there is a genuine vacancy)
If you fail in your duty to comply with these and other Sponsor Licence responsibilities, your licence can be downgraded, suspended or revoked.
What happens when a Sponsor Licence is revoked?
If a Sponsor Licence is revoked, the effect is immediate and there is no right of appeal. Judicial Review is the only course of action available, but this method is, a) notoriously expensive and b) very difficult to succeed in.
You will not be able to re-apply for a new Sponsor Licence until the ‘cooling-off’ period of 12 months has passed (bearing in mind that there is no guarantee that a new Sponsor Licence will be reissued).
If a sponsor’s licence is revoked, this will have a direct impact on sponsored migrants as they no longer have a sponsor. The Home Office’s general policy is to:
- immediately curtail the leave or worker authorisation of those sponsored migrants whom the Home Office believes to have been complicit in the reasons for the revocation of the licence
- curtail the leave or worker authorisation of those sponsored migrants who were not considered complicit, to 60 calendar days, to give them a chance to find a new sponsor
Prevention is better than the cure
I fear that this article has so far been full of doom and gloom; however, the fact is the Home Office is very keen in its determination to ensure Sponsor Licence holders comply with their obligations.
Employers who need access to non-EEA talent to maintain and grow their business should invest in the following to ensure their policies and procedures will hold up to a (usually unannounced) visit from Home Office officials:
- Make sure your HR systems and records are always up to date. Use reminders to ensure you are alerted to visa expiry dates and all records should be transparent, complete and easily accessible.
- Retain records of your international worker’s suitability for the role they are employed to do. This includes evidence of the Resident Labour Market Test and all other supporting information relating to the initial employment, including a record of professional qualifications or accreditations.
- Have regular mock audits. Regularly review of your HR systems and procedures, and have an independent immigration expert come into your office at least once a year to check all information is readily accessible and up to date.
Investing in robust legal guidance and mock audits will ensure your organisation does not fall foul of UK Home Office compliance requirements and ultimately retains its Sponsor Licence. Keeping an A-rated Sponsor Licence will not only safeguard your company’s continued ability to provide service and grow, it will protect your employees’ ability to remain in the UK and safeguard the economic vitality your business provides to the local community.
A Y & J Solicitors has a team of specialist immigration lawyers. Please contact the expert team at A Y & J Solicitors, should you need any professional help with your Sponsor Licence application or compliance requirements.
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.