The UK leaves the European Union in less than six months. With the number of EU nationals coming to the UK for work reducing, having a valid Tier2 Sponsor Licence is more crucial than ever for organisations whorely on foreign talent to meet customer demands.
Sponsor Licenceholders who do not have the advantage of large HR departments to monitorcompliance need to be mindful of Home Office actions while observing the non-compliance,including licence suspensions.
Not only can Tier 2 Sponsor Licence suspension lead to possible revocation of the licence, it means the business cannot allocate any further Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS). In addition, theorganisation’s name will be removed from the public register of sponsors during the suspension period, which could result in significant reputational damage.
What Would Cause the Home Office to Suspendan Organisation’s Sponsor Licence?
The Home Office has the power to suspend an organisation’s Sponsor Licence if it has reason to believe that the sponsor is breaching its sponsor licence duties and responsibilities and as such, poses a threat to immigration control.
Suspension is used as an interim measure for the sponsor to address the issues raised by the Home Office in their suspension letter and to enable the Home Office to make a proper decision in relation to whether a licence should be revoked.
Examples ofnon-compliance that could lead to a Sponsor Licence being suspended include but not limited to:
- An allegation of illegal workers being employed in the business
- Gaps are present in-migrant record-keeping duties
- Officers suspect Resident Labour Market Test requirements have not been followed correctly
Suspensions often occur following an un-announced Home Office compliance inspection visit, which is why it is crucial licence holders invest in regular mock audits to ensure their Sponsor Management System (SMS) and HR policies and procedures are compliant and up-to-date.
What Happens if a Sponsor Licence isSuspended?
If the Home Office decides to suspend a Sponsor Licence, the business will receive notice in writing detailing the reasons for the suspension.
An organisation has 20 working days to respond to the suspension letter with any mitigating arguments and/or documentation to support its defence to the reasons for the suspension stated by the Home Office. Any additional reasons identified by the Home Office for the suspension will result in a further 20 working days response time.
If the Home Office decides to revoke the licence, it will notify the sponsor in writing.There is no right of appeal against this decision, and a sponsor will not be able to re-apply for a licence for a period of 12 months from the date of the revocation. The only option to challenge the Tier 2 Sponsor Licence revocation through Judicial Review, alengthy and expensive process. Therefore,it is crucial Home Office correspondence relating to the suspension and/orinvestigation is quickly and properly actioned.
What are the final decisions the Home Office can take Following Suspension?
Following a suspension, the Home Office could take one of the following actions:
- reinstate the company as an A-rated sponsor
- reinstate the company as a B-rated sponsor, or
- revoke the licence(s)
If the Sponsor Licence is reinstated with a B-rating, it is important to note a B-rating is a transitional rating; the business must comply with an action plan issued by the Home Office. The business will be required to make the necessary improvements stated in the action place within a certain time-frame, which will be three months or less. If the action plan is not completed to the Home Office’s satisfaction, the Sponsor Licence will be revoked.
An organisation has the right to challenge the decision if the Home Office has suspended its Sponsor Licence. Therefore, it is business-critical to seek expert legal advice as soon as a suspension notice is received. If the Home Office has made an error regarding the reasons for the suspension, an experienced immigration solicitor will quickly pick up on the fact and challenge the suspension notice.
They are expert in all aspect of business immigration including Sponsor Licence Application, Tier 2 Sponsor Licence Renewal, in challenging if Tier 2 Sponsor Licence is refused, Sponsor Licence Suspension / Revocation, Civil Penalty Notice.