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Educational establishments who wish to recruit overseas students need to obtain Tier 4 Sponsorship License from the Home Office. This is a permission from the Home Office to issue CAS (certificate of acceptance) to overseas students under the PBS point-based system. Documentary evidence of physical and trading existence of the business are required to maintain certain set of sponsor license Tier 4 HR policies & procedures in order to make a Sponsor License Tier 4 successful application.
The Home Office may also visit the business premises to see whether the documents provided truly reflect the nature and the extent of the business and whether the UK establishment have HR policies in place or not and whether there are set procedures in place to meet the stringent reporting duties for sponsor license Tier 4. If they are happy with all the paperwork and are satisfied with the HR policies and other procedures, they can approve the sponsor license Tier 4 application.
Once approved, they can either give an A – rated license or a B – rated license.
A-Category: This is issued when the Home Office finds everything in perfect order and place and are satisfied with the UK establishment`s HR policies and other procedures. Once this is issued, the educational establishment may then commence enrolling overseas students under sponsor license Tier 4.
B-Category: This is issued when the Home Office is generally satisfied that all the requirements of sponsor license Tier 4 are being met but has concerns about some minor issues. This is a temporary stage and the educational establishment is required to follow a certain plan of actions to upgrade to category A. The issuance of a B category sponsor license Tier 4 is generally followed by an approved plan of action for that particular educational establishment, that needs to be followed in order to be upgraded to A – category.
Educational establishments can only sponsor overseas students if they have a valid A category sponsor license Tier 4.
Duration of License: The Tier 4 sponsor license is issued for a period of four years and it has to be renewed upon completion of four years, if the UK establishment continues to recruit overseas students.
Duration of the Process: If all the process of tier 4 sponsor license goes well, it takes an average time of about 8-10 weeks for the Home Office to give their decision on sponsor license Tier 4 application.
Suspension of Tier 4 Sponsorship License: The Home Office may often visit the business premises to check the educational establishment’s compliance with the requirements and if they find out any discrepancies in the records or are not satisfied with the HR procedures and policies, they may suspend the Tier 4 sponsorship license of the company. A Tier 4 sponsor license suspension letter is issued and the educational establishment is generally given 20 working days to respond to any queries or concerns raised in the Tier 4 sponsor license suspension letter.
It is really important to seek legal advice at this stage as it is often difficult to understand the legal jargon available on the Home Office website relating to the Tier 4 sponsorship license procedure. We at Chauhan Solicitors have handled a number of Tier 4 sponsorship license suspension decisions and have been able to get relief for our clients.
Judicial Review against Refusal of Tier 4 Sponsor License application: A refusal of sponsorship license application does not attract full rights of appeal and the applicant (i.e. UK establishment) has either to lodge a fresh application by addressing the issues raised by the Home Office or if dissatisfied with the decision may lodge Judicial review proceedings against the decision.
As part of a Sponsorship License Application, the Home office may also visit the business premises to see whether the documents provided truly reflect the nature and the extent of the business and whether the UK establishment has HR policies in place or not. If the UK Home Office is happy with the Sponsor License paperwork and are satisfied with the HR policies and procedures; they can approve the application for a sponsor license. It is therefore quite important to fully comply with Rules of Sponsorship License at the time of making Sponsor License application and thereafter as the Home Office can inspected at any time.
Having dealt with a number of such cases relating to Sponsorship license applications, Suspension of Sponsorship License Application and Revocation of Sponsorship license, we have amassed vast experience in such matters. We are expert on advising the following to our clients to ensure all the documents and procedures are in order and compliant with the Home office rules relating to Sponsorship license.
We shall advise on the Record Keeping procedure
We shall advise on the reporting procedures
We shall review the employee’s files and advise accordingly
We shall advise on handling the UKVI compliance visits
We shall review the HR policies and procedures
We shall advise the User Level 1 and User Level 2 on their duties and responsibilities in respect of compliance.
Sponsorship license is generally granted for a period of four years subject to the condition that the sponsor continues to fully comply with the sponsorship duties and takes appropriate actions as required. The Home Office reserves a right to pay a surprise visit to any employer having sponsorship license to ensure that the sponsor is fully compliant with the rules and regulations of the Sponsor license.
Having a sponsorship license therefore is not the end of the process, it is in fact beginning of commitment of compliance of all the rules and procedures that the sponsor makes to the Home Office. The sponsor in fact shares the burden of immigration control with the Home Office and is penalised by suspension and or revocation of Sponsor License if it is found that the sponsors has failed to comply with the duties that they have been entrusted with.
The Home Office has provided full details of duties and responsibilities of the sponsor and failure to adhere fully may lead to suspension and later revocation of the sponsorship license.
The UKVI visit to the Sponsor’s Premises
The Home Office is not under a duty to inform prior to making the visit to the sponsor’s business premises. However we have experienced that in some cases they do inform the employers, in most cases they do not. It is therefore really important to have everything in place at all times and to keep a strict check on even a seemingly insignificant matter, like change of home address of the point based migrant or change of salary or job description etc.
The Home office team would be keen to look at the Sponsor License paperwork and also assess the genuineness of the job itself. They may also interview the point based migrants to know their version of employment and the Sponsor License company’s dealings. They also take the liberty to speak to the employees of the sponsor who are British citizens or EEA nationals in order to make a full assessment of the genuineness of the business, the hierarchy and the general dealings of the business.
Suspension of Sponsorship License
Once visit is complete, the sponsor receives a detailed report of the Sponsor License assessment made by the Home Office along with the outcome of the visit.
If the Home Office team is fully satisfied with the compliance of the sponsor License then no further action is taken and the sponsorship license remains in place. However, if they find any discrepancies, or non-compliance with the rules and procedures or any breaches of the sponsorship duties, they will suspend the sponsorship license with immediate effect and generally give 20 working days to the sponsor to make any representations in response to the allegations made in the Sponsorship License suspension letter.
It is extremely crucial to seek professional advice and services whilst preparing for the response of the Sponsorship License suspension letter and arranging for the documents requested by the Home Office. We at Chauhan Solicitors have vast experience in handling refusal of Sponsor License, suspension of Sponsorship License and revocation of Sponsorship License and have been able to have the sponsorship licenses reinstated for our clients, depending on the allegations leveled against the sponsor.
It is extremely important to address each and every point one by one by providing reasonable explanation and or relevant documentary evidences in order to rebut the allegations. At Chauhan Solicitors, we are expert in advising our clients on Sponsor License issues and make representations to the Home Office.
The existing point based migrants can continue working for the sponsor during the whole process and their employments are not affected at all.
Outcome of the Representations made in response to the suspension letter
After giving full consideration to the representations made in response to the suspension letter and the documents provided therewith, the Home Office may take one of the following actions:
They may reinstate the sponsorship license – In this case, the point based migrants would be safe and could continue working for their employer.
They may downgrade the sponsorship license to B category and give an action plan to be followed by the sponsor in order to upgrade to A category – In this case, the point based migrants would be safe and could continue working for their employer but the sponsor would not be able to sponsor any further employees until the sponsorship license gets upgraded to A category.
They may refuse to accept the arguments put forward in the representations and revoke the sponsorship license of the sponsor – In this case, the sponsor would not be able to employ any point based migrants and the Home Office will also curtail the employee’s leaves to expire in 60 days (provided they have valid leave for more than 6 months).
The decision of revocation of sponsorship license does not come with a right of appeal and one has to challenge the decision in the High court by way of Judicial Review.
The Home Office may revoke the sponsorship license with immediate effect if it is found that the sponsor is in serious breach of the sponsorship duties, which has compromised effective immigration control. In most cases, however the sponsor is given 20 working days to make appropriate representations in response to the suspension of the sponsorship license.
The effect of the revocation of the sponsorship license is quite serious as all the point based migrants working for the sponsor shall not be able to continue working for their employer and the Home Office shall curtail their leave to remain, to expire in 60 days’ time.
The employees are in fact given the opportunity to look for another sponsor and make fresh application on the basis of a new Certificate of Sponsorship and obtain new leave to remain under the relevant point based system.
It is extremely crucial to seek professional advice and services to deal with the revocation of the sponsorship license as the only way to challenge the refusal is to lodge Judicial Review proceedings in the High Court. We have vast experience in handling such matters and are capable to represent our clients in the High Court.
A Judicial Review is a check and review procedure conducted by the Upper Tribunal (Immigration & Asylum Chambers) or the High court on the decisions made by the executive body (i.e. Home Office).
The revocation of sponsorship license is a serious matter and has significant consequences for the employers and the migrants. Upon revocation of sponsor License, the employers must stop employing the Tier 2 migrants with immediate effect and the Tier 2 migrants’ visas are generally curtailed to 60 days, allowing them to look for another employer. Same is the case for Tier 4 migrants when their educational establishment loses sponsorship license.
There is no right of appeal against that Revocation of Sponsor License decision. The revocation can only be challenged way of Judicial Review in the High Court. There is a 3 months’ time limit to bring the Judicial Review proceedings against the revocation of sponsorship license.
Pre-Action Protocol against Revocation of Sponsorship License
Generally, the first step would be to write a Pre-Action protocol letter to the Home Office before initiating Judicial Review JR process in the High Court against revocation of sponsorship license.
It is really important to assess the grounds of revocation of Sponsorship License, analyze the merits and proceed most effectively in order to obtain relief. This is an opportunity given by the claimant to the litigation team of the Home office to review revocation of Sponsorship License decision in the light of the representations or submissions made in the Sponsor license Pre-action protocol letter. Generally 14 days of notice to the Home office is given to respond to Pre-action Protocol letter against revocation of sponsor license.
The most important thing is to identify the issues raised by the Home office and to see whether a fair sponsor license revocation decision has been made in the light of the information or available documents. We at Chauhan Solicitors are expert in advising our clients on the merits and accordingly make representations to the litigation team to review the decision. We have been quite successful in persuading the litigation team of the home office in reconsidering the decision and a number of our clients did not need to go further in the Judicial Review process and were given relief just on the basis of the pre-action protocol letter.
Permission Application (on papers) – Grounds of Judicial Review on revocation of Sponsorship License
If the Home office Litigation Team refuses to overturn the decision and we believe there are merits, we can then lodge JR review permission application in the High Court.
Time to Lodge JR Application against revocation of sponsorship license
The deadline to lodge Permission application of Judicial Review is 3 months’ from the date of the revocation of sponsorship license.
Grounds of Judicial Review against revocation of sponsorship license
One has to carefully consider and draft the grounds on which he or she may rely in their permission application for Judicial review to the High Court against the revocation of sponsorship license. The main point here is to identify errors of law in the letter of revocation of sponsorship license, if any. Letter of revocation of sponsorship license needs to be assessed to find out if the secretary of state for Home department has made a fair decision in the light of the relevant law, rules or regulations etc. It requires a wealth of expertise and experience to draft good grounds against revocation of sponsorship license.
Once Judicial Review is lodged, the respondent i.e. the Secretary of State for Home Department has to file “Acknowledgment of Service” along with the grounds of defence. The High Court taking account of arguments and documents presented by both parties, makes a decision.
The High Court may take one of the following actions:
Grant permission for Judicial Review on all grounds
Grant permission for Judicial Review on one or more grounds
Refuse permission for Judicial Review
Whatever stage we come on board, we make sure to work in the best interests of our clients and have successfully represented many of our clients in such matters.
Why to instruct Chauhan Solicitors to Apply for Sponsorship License Application
We are a city law firm, specializing in UK Immigration matters. We are located in Central London, therefore conveniently accessible to Londoners and clients in other parts of the UK. Moreover, since all the UK immigration Applications can be submitted online, it has become easier for us to take instructions from anywhere in the world. We have been advising our clients successfully to apply for Sponsorship License Application.
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