Why your sponsor licence is suspended and what next

Home Office may suspend your sponsor licence when they believe that you are breaching your sponsor duties and/or pose a threat to immigration control, or are engaging in behaviours or actions that are not conducive to the public good. All sponsors have a responsibility to behave in a manner that is consistent with fundamental values and is not detrimental to the wider public good. During the suspension Home Office will make further enquiries to find out if their reasons for suspension are justified.

What we notice is that businesses, especially small ones, make an effort to apply and obtain sponsor licence. However, when the licence is granted they do not ensure compliance with sponsorship duties and obligations which results in sponsor licence suspension and in many cases in revocation of the licence. When granting the sponsor licence, Home Office puts trust in sponsor employers that the duties will be adhered to so it is important for sponsor employers to focus on compliance from day one. The Home Office requirements are published in Home Office Guidance for sponsors format and publicly available.

If Home Office takes decision to suspend or revoke your licence, they will write to you to tell you of this. If your licence is revoked there is no right of appeal and you will not be allowed to apply for a sponsor licence again until at least 12 months have passed since the date we notified you of the revocation.

Sponsorship duties breach - licence revocation
Sponsor licence suspension – breach of sponsorship duties

What are the consequences of sponsor licence suspension

You will not be able to assign any CoS while your licence is suspended.

If a worker makes an application supported by a valid CoS you assigned before your licence was suspended, or if you support a worker’s application for indefinite leave to remain (settlement), Home Office will not decide the application until the reason for suspension has been resolved, unless the application falls for refusal on other grounds.

If a worker has already been granted entry clearance on the basis of a CoS assigned by you before your licence was suspended, they will still be allowed to enter the UK and start working for you, provided your licence is not revoked by the time they travel. Home Office advise all workers to check the status of their sponsor’s licence before they travel.

While your licence is suspended, the function to replace your Authorising Officer or Key Contact and add new Level 1 Users automatically will also be suspended, if these provisions had previously been granted on your licence.

You must continue to comply with all sponsor duties and any requirements set out in this guidance throughout the period of suspension. If your licence is due to expire during the period of suspension, you must still apply to renew it if you want to keep it.

If your licence is suspended, it is suspended in all routes in which you are licensed and Home Office will remove your entry from the public version of the register of sponsors during the suspension period.

Workers whom you are sponsoring at the time of the suspension will not be affected, unless or until Home Office decide to revoke your licence.

If Home Office decide to revoke your licence, they will write to you to tell you of this. There is no right of appeal and you will not be allowed to apply for a sponsor licence again until at least 12 months have passed since the date we notified you of the revocation.

If Home Office decide not to revoke your licence, we will lift the suspension and reinstate your entry on the register of sponsors on GOV.UK.

How Home Office decide whether to suspend your licence

If any of the circumstances listed in Annex C1 arise, they will either revoke your licence immediately or suspend your licence pending further investigation or consideration.

If any of the circumstances listed in Annex C2 or Annex C3 arise, they will first consider downgrading your licence. However, they may also decide to suspend your licence without first downgrading it. This could be where there has been sustained non-compliance over a period of time, or where there have been a number of breaches which are minor in themselves but, taken together, indicate a more serious or systematic failing.

The process Home Office will follow

Where Home Office is satisfied that there is enough evidence to suspend your licence without further investigation, they will write to you giving reasons for the suspension

Where there is evidence that justifies your licence being suspended pending a full investigation, they will write to you giving our initial reasons for suspension and telling you that an investigation will take place. It may not be possible to say how long the investigation will take, but they will update you on the progress at regular intervals. During this period, you can make any written statements to respond, including sending evidence. Any statement or evidence will be taken into account during the investigation.

You have 20 working days from the date of the written notification to respond to Home Office letter. This is your opportunity to seek a review of our decision and to set out any mitigating arguments you believe exist. Your response to Home Office must be in writing and set out, with any relevant supporting evidence, which grounds you believe to be incorrect and why. Home Office may give you more time to respond if they are satisfied there are exceptional circumstances. They will not hold an oral hearing.

If Home Office identify any additional reasons for the suspension of your licence during that 20-day period, including any additional information gained during the course of discussions or interviews with workers to whom you have assigned a CoS, they will write to you again, giving you another 20 working days to respond in writing to the additional reasons.

When Home Office receive a response from you, they will consider this and may ask a compliance officer, other law enforcement agency, government department, agency, local authority, the police, foreign government or other body, for information.

If Home Office do not receive a response within the time allowed, they will go ahead with whatever action they believe is appropriate and tell you of our decision in writing.

Home Office action after suspension investigation

Appropriate action may include one or more the following, Home Office may:

• re-instate your licence with an A-rating

• re-instate your licence with a B-rating (and issue you with an action plan)

• prevent you from assigning any new CoS

• prevent the use of any assigned, but unused, CoS

• revoke your licence

Home Office will tell you of their final decision within 20 working days of receiving your response, unless the consideration is exceptionally complex or they are waiting for information from a third party, such as another government department. In this case, they will inform you of the delay.

Any action we take as a result of our decision will take effect from the date of the decision letter we send to you. We will send this letter by Royal Mail Signed For delivery or by email. If letters are emailed to you, hard copies are available at request via the email address on the letter.

What happens if Home Office reinstate your licence

If your licence has been suspended and Home Office do not later revoke it, they will reinstate it either as an A-rating or a B-rating.

If they reinstate your licence with a B-rating, you will not be given a further 20 working days to reply as this process will have been completed during the period your licence was suspended.

Re-instatement with a B-rating means you must comply with an action plan. Home Office may also reduce, or set to zero, the number of CoS you are allowed to assign.