Can my Sponsor Licence be revoked?

21 Nov 2022, 09 mins ago

A sponsor licence is a valuable asset to a business. The licence itself is a privilege, given by the Home Office to businesses deemed able to comply with their sponsor duties, but it is not a right.

The sponsor licence allows businesses to sponsor migrant workers to come and work for the sponsor. The sponsor issues them with Certificate of Sponsorships via the electronic Sponsorship Management System ((SMS). Losing one’s sponsor licence can have serious implications for the business and the workers who are sponsored.

Generally, sponsor licence revocation only happens when your business has breached its responsibilities as a sponsor and the Home Office deems the breach  serious enough to revoke the sponsor licence. There are other penalties the Home Office can impose on non-compliant businesses, including imposing an improvement action plan, downgrading an A-rating to a B-rating, suspending the licence, and so forth.

The Home Office has a long list of potential situations in which they may revoke your business’ sponsor licence. These situations can relate to any wrongdoing by your business or the business’ owner, director or key personnel responsible for managing your licence or sponsor management system and the scope is extremely wide.

There are generally three levels of severity when it comes to licence revocation, they can be broken down as follows:

1. Mandatory revocation grounds

These grounds are reserved for the most serious of breaches, including if deception was used (e.g. to apply for a sponsor licence or if workers are being paid less than declared to the Home Office), where the business/its directors/owner or key personnel are subject to criminal conviction, and so forth.

Other examples include being issued with 2 or more civil penalties for employing illegal workers, misuse of the business’ sponsor management system (e.g. if one of your SMS users self-sponsors or sponsors a family member), supplying workers to a third party, failing to safeguard the interests of children, and so forth.

2. Semi-Mandatory revocation grounds

The Home Office will usually revoke your licence if your breaches fall into this category, unless you have an exceptional reason for the breach. The types of situations that fall in this category are similar to those in the mandatory grounds and can include failure to comply with sponsor duties (e.g. if you do not report a worker’s change of circumstances), fail to comply with the Home Office compliance checks, deception of another UK government department, and so forth.

Other interesting examples include having no Sponsor Management System users in place, your business, business’ owner, director or key personnel being subject to international sanctions, or your business’ behaviour  not being conducive to the public good (this can include a wide range of issues, including encouraging terrorism, discrimination, etc.)

3. Discretionary revocation grounds

If your situation falls into this category, the Home Office will usually not revoke your licence if it only touches upon one of the grounds (although they likely will take other enforcement measures against you). However, where multiple grounds are present, they will still very likely revoke the licence.

Interesting examples include unauthorised disclosure of your sponsor management system password, your business failing to pay VAT, or your business, its owner, director or Authorising Officer being issued with a civil penalty for failure to conduct right-to-rent checks. 

If revoked, the business will not be able to apply for a new sponsor licence until 12 months have passed since the date of revocation. Of course, revocation also means the business loses the ability to sponsor migrants, new or existing. This will have a serious impact on the business as well as its sponsored employees.

If you find your business in any of the above situations, or you have a sponsor compliance issue you are concerned about, you should seek legal advice immediately.

How Gherson can assist

Gherson’s Immigration Team is highly experienced in advising on UK visa matters. If you have any questions arising from this blog, please do not hesitate to contact us for advice, send us an email, or, alternatively, follow us on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn to stay-up-to-date.

The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts 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 Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.

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