Tier 2 of the Points-Based System is the primary immigration route for non- EEA migrants who wish to work in the UK. An organisation or a company that holds a valid Tier 2 licence must sponsor these migrants. A licence is a permission given to an organisation/company to sponsor workers in its business. As a UK sponsor, the organisation/company is opening its doors to the Home Office for an on site visit. The Home Office officials are able to visit and conduct checks to ensure that the sponsor duties are being complied with on an immediate, unannounced basis.
If the Home Office believe that the organisation/company is breaching its duties and posing a threat to immigration control, they may suspend the licence while they make further enquiries.
What happens if the licence is suspended?
If the licence is suspended, it is suspended in all the tiers and categories the organisation/company is licensed under and will be removed from the public version of the register of sponsors during the suspension period.
If the Home Office is satisfied with the evidence to suspend the licence without further investigation, they will write to the organisation/company giving reasons for the suspension. Where the Home Office have evidence that warrants the licence being suspended pending a full investigation, they will write to the organisation/company giving initial reasons for suspension and confirming that an investigation will take place. It may not be possible to say how long the investigation will take, but the Home Office are supposed to update the organisation/company on their progress at regular intervals.
The organisation/company has 20 working days from the date of the written notification, to respond to the Home Office letter with mitigating arguments and further supporting evidence. If the Home Office identifies any additional reasons for the suspension of the licence during that 20 day period, including any additional information gained during the course of discussions or interviews with migrants, they we will write to the organisation/company again, giving another 20 working days to respond in writing to the additional reasons. Please note that when the Home Office receives the response from the organisation/company they may ask any compliance officer, other law enforcement agency, government department, agency, local authority, the police, foreign government or other body for information about the organisation/company.
Action taken after receiving a response from the organisation/company
Appropriate action may be to re-instate the licence with either an A-rating or a B-Rating, and/or stop the organisation/company from assigning CoS and prevent the use of any assigned but unused CoS, or to revoke the licence. Any action taken will take effect from the date of the letter the Home Office sends to the organisation/company, informing of the decision.
If the licence has been suspended and the Home Office do not later revoke it, they will reinstate it either as an A-rating or a B-rating.
The organisation/company will not be able to assign any certificates of sponsorship (CoS) to migrants when the licence is suspended. While the licence is suspended, if a migrant makes an application supported by a valid CoS that the organisation/comapny assigned before the licence was suspended, the Home Office will not decide their application until the reason for suspension has been resolved.
If the licence is re-instated to A-rating the organisation/company is able to continue to sponsor migrants and return to their sponsor duties as they were prior to the suspension.
If the licence is re-instated to a B-Rating, the organisation/company will not be given a further 20 working days to reply as this process will have been completed during the suspension period.
Re-instatement with a B-rating means the organisation/company must comply with an action plan. A B-rating is a transitional rating. If the organisation/company is a B-rated sponsor, they must improve their performance enough to be upgraded to an A-rating within a specified time limit, not exceeding 3 months. If they do not, the licence will be revoked.
Certain circumstances can lead to the licence being revoked. If this happens, it will be revoked in all the tiers, categories and sub categories, which the organisation/company is licensed under. There is no right of appeal and the organisation/company will not be allowed to apply again for a sponsor licence until the end of the appropriate cooling off period from the date the licence is revoked.