Can your sponsorship licence be revoked if you don’t follow the immigration rules?

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In a clear warning to sponsors across the UK, the High Court has upheld the Home Office’s decision to revoke a sponsor licence from a UK company, after it embellished job descriptions to meet the skills requirement needed for Tier 2 sponsorship – in clear breach of the immigration rules.

If a business wants to employ non-EU nationals in the UK under Tier 2 (General), it must comply with strict requirements under the immigration rules. One of these requirements is that the job must be in a skilled occupation and of a suitable skill level. These roles include positions like finance managers or directors, medical practitioners, or accountants. The Home Office places a high level of trust in sponsors to accurately apply its immigration policies – and only employ non-EU nationals in skilled positions.

In this case, the company involved employed four employees as HR managers, company accountants, and BD managers – all potentially skilled positions from the Home Office’s list of approved roles. But, when the Home Office carried out a compliance visit, it discovered that the work these employees were actually doing was of a much lower skill level than described. The HR manager’s role, for example, more closely resembled an administrative role. The Home Office subsequently suspended the company’s licence, pending investigation, before revoking it.

This case is a good reminder to sponsors across the UK to make sure they’re employing non-EU nationals in suitably skilled roles, and that any information they give the Home Office is accurate and complies with the immigration rules. The consequences of not doing so are severe – if your licence is revoked, your company can no longer sponsor any non-EU migrants, and you’ll have to wait a minimum period before re-applying for your licence.

Compliance visits can take place unannounced, so it’s crucial that you make sure any roles you give to non-EU nationals are correctly classified – and that you comply with your other sponsor duties, including their record keeping and reporting. This may sound daunting, but our immigration lawyers can help. We can come to your offices and do our own immigration audit, highlighting any areas that you could improve, so that you’re ready before the Home Office knock on the door.