Last week the UK Border Agency (UKBA) took high-profile action against London Metropolitan University to revoke the University’s Tier 4 sponsor licence and Highly Trusted Sponsor status. Following an audit conducted by the UKBA, failure by the University to ensure compliance with the Immigration Rules and UKBA policy has led the UKBA to fully revoke the University’s licence.
The failure was multiple and must count as a severe embarrassment for the LMU. It had not taken adequate steps to check that those enrolled should be there, nor to verify that they were actually participating in their courses anyway. A failure to maintain sufficient records left the LMU largely unable to provide satisfactory answers to the UKBA’s enquiries.
Over 2,500 students currently sponsored by the University will therefore have their visas curtailed to 60 days, during which time they must find a new University to sponsor them or face administrative removal from the UK. It may also be that the loss of 2,000 students will lead to redundancies within the LMU. Even on the basis that a material number of LMU students lacked the necessary permissions, the UKBA’s willingness to prejudice the positions of all the rest and of those employees makes clear both its determination to enforce the relevant rules and that it will not put off doing so by the impact on innocent third parties.
Tier 2 sponsors must take note of this decision by the UKBA, as failure to comply with sponsor duties and responsibilities and/or failure to comply with any action plan put into place by the UKBA could lead to a similar revocation of a Tier 2 sponsor licence, leaving the employer unable to continue sponsoring any migrant workers. Employers take note. Compliance is key!