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Sponsor Licence issues within the care industry

Irwin Mitchell’s Immigration Team have been met with an increase of calls from concerned members of the care industry regarding the suspension or revocation of their sponsor licences by the Home Office.

What is the issue?

As part of an increased crackdown by the Conservative government on immigration, there appears to be an increasing frequency of unannounced Home Office compliance visits on sponsor licence holders within the care industry. The policies, systems and procedures of these organisations are being scrutinised by the Home Office to ascertain whether sponsor licence holders are complying with their sponsor duties.

There are a multitude of compliance issues that could lead to the suspension or revocation of a sponsor licence, but we have noticed that the Home Office are particularly focusing on the following issues:

  • Whether sponsored workers are occupying genuine vacancies and being paid in line with their Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
  • Whether the sponsor is acting as an employment agency and sponsored workers are being supplied as labour to third parties, including local councils 
  • Whether the sponsor can financially support their sponsored workers
  • Whether sponsors have a well-managed system of record-keeping for sponsored workers in line with Appendix D of the Immigration Rules, including copies of qualifications, work references and address history

What does the suspension of a sponsor licence mean?

When a sponsor licence is suspended, the following will apply:

  • The company cannot assign Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS), and are prohibited from sponsoring new migrant workers
  • Any assigned CoS prior to the suspension with a pending application will be put on hold until a decision is made by the Home Office regarding the suspension

You must also continue to comply with all sponsorship duties during the period of suspension.

What does the revocation of a sponsor licence mean?

When a sponsor licence is revoked, the following will apply:

  • The Home Office will curtail leave of sponsored workers to a maximum of 60 days 
  • There is no right of appeal against a decision to revoke a sponsor licence, and you will not be able to apply for a sponsor licence for a cooling-off period of 12 months following the revocation of your licence

What is the wider impact of the issue?

The suspension or revocation of a sponsor licence can be stressful for an organisation, causing disruption to operations and revenue as a result of being unable to employ new Skilled Workers.

Additionally, the care industry in particular is heavily dependent on Skilled Workers. The suspension of a sponsor licence can induce a knock-on effect for vulnerable service users who may be prevented from receiving adequate continuity of care as a result of the inability to sponsor workers.

If a sponsored worker has their leave curtailed, they will have to either:

  • Make another application for leave in a category they are qualified for;
  • Find alternative employment with a licenced sponsor; or 
  • Leave the UK

Worries for the future

With a general election looming, it is still unclear whether this audit policy will continue either under a new Labour government or as an extension of the current Conservative government. With both parties taking a hard stance on immigration, it is likely to become an issue of increasing prominence in the future. 

This will affect the care industry, but also have a wider impact on immigration as a whole, with possibly more onerous compliance measures introduced in relation to sponsor licence holders.


It could be critical to your organisation for you to be proactive and conduct the relevant internal audits of your processes, systems and sponsored workers to ensure you are prepared for an unannounced Home Office visit and are able to clearly demonstrate compliance.

The Immigration Team at Irwin Mitchell have extensive experience dealings with sponsor licence related matters. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with Mandeep Khroud partner within our Immigration Team, should you need our assistance.