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How does the Home Office suspend employers’ licences?

From practice, it appears that the UK government often target licence holders in rounds. I.e. there seems to be certain times where the Home Office divert resources and come down heavily on licence holders and make decisions to revoke or suspend licences. This can obviously not just have a devastating impact on you and your business, that has a need for that migrant worker, but also on that individual who may have relocated their entire family to the UK to fulfil the relevant role. 

Why does the Home Office suspend licences?

The Home Office state that they will suspend a licence where the licence holder poses a threat to immigration control and are breaching their duties as a licence holder. A licence holder cannot assign a Certificate of Sponsorship during the suspension, but it is important that if the licence is due for renewal during the period of suspension, the applicant still applies to renew the licence.

How does the Home Office decide to suspend a licence?  

Often a decision to suspend a licence is made following a visit to the licence holders premises. Officers from the Home Office will investigate, to discover whether the licence holder is aware of his or her duties to the Home Office, whether there have been any instances of non-compliance and so on. 

Officers will often speak with Tier 2 migrants who are employed by the licence holder and review whether their duties match those of the job description. It may be that further documents are required by the Home Office, and they will often ask for further documents so they can resolve whether the company is compliant.  

How does a suspension work?

When suspension has occurred, Tier 2 Migrants can continue to be employed by the licence holder. If the ultimate decision is to revoke the licence the Tier 2 migrants must cease work straight away. During the suspension period, it is imperative that any evidence that might be available to show that the licence holder was not acting improperly, should be sent to the Home Office.   

The Home Office will consider revoking a licence where it is an Office of the Service Commissioner (OISC) firm, and they have removed authorisation to practice.  

If a firm has failed to pay a migrant the rate specified in Appendix J of the Immigration Rules, then the Home Office will consider revoking the licence. If a licence holder does not provide a document which they should keep copies of as per Appendix D of the Immigration Rules, or under Appendix J of the Immigration Rules (for shortage occupation roles) then the Home Office may revoke the licence.  

The Home Office will also consider revoking the licence where a licence holder becomes bankrupt, is legally prohibited from acting as a company director or where there is no Sponsor Management System user in place at the company. This could be, for example, where your level 1 user leave the company and you do not apply for another level 1 user to have a new log in details and credentials. Some civil penalties will also attract the attention of the Home Office and may result in the Home Office considering revocation.  

What to do if your Tier 2 Licence is suspended?

In the event your licence is suspended, it is crucial that you act quickly. The suspension letter will give full reasons as to why the Home Office believe that your licence is being suspended. It will usually also request further documents that will assist them with the investigation. It is crucial that the points raised by the Home Office are properly addressed both in writing and with supporting documentary evidence. It was always preferable that a licence suspension is overturned, then you proceed to revocation stage and must challenge that. 

If your licence is suspended or revoked, please contact us immediately to assist in resolving.  

If you are worried about your licence being suspended call us immediately at: 020 7118 4546 or email at:

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