When deciding whether you are suitable for a sponsor licence, The Home Office assess you using a scoring system.
They mark using the following scores:
1 - meets all of the criteria.
2 - meets only some of the criteria.
3 - does not meet any of the criteria.
Scores for civil penalties and criminal convictions
The only scores you can be given for criminal convictions are 1 (no convictions) or 3 (one or more convictions found). If a member of your staff who has access to the sponsorship management system is found to have an unspent criminal conviction for an offence listed in Appendix B of the full policy guidance, you will receive a 3 marking. Any other unspent convictions could also lead to a 3 marking.
What the scores mean and how they affect your rating
Home Office give an A rating if you receive a 1 score in the three categories and there are no other reasons for giving a B rating or refusing your application. The Home Office give a B rating if your organisation receives a 2 score in any of the three categories and there are no other reasons for refusing your application. The Home Office is likely to refuse your application if you receive a 3 score in any of the three categories.
It may also be possible for an organisation to get an A rating or B rating if it receives a 1 or 2 for having paid a civil penalty or for non-compliance but receives a 3 for human resource systems. In such cases, the visiting officer may still be able to recommend and A rating or a B rating with an action plan, which will last a maximum of 12 months, with review points every three months.
How Home Office awards A and B ratings
When The Home Office gives you a sponsor licence, they award you an A rating or B rating, rating each application on its own merits. Your rating reflects any track record you have in employing or teaching migrants and appears on the published register of sponsors. If The Home Office suspends you, they remove your rating from the register during the suspension period. If the suspension is lifted, they reinstate your name on the register with the rating they award.
Your rating will usually be the same for all the tiers you are registered for. However, in exceptional cases, if you are performing poorly in your duties in only one tier, they apply the B rating only to that tier. For example, they might do this if a college has adequate procedures in place for managing its migrant workers, but not for overseas students.
Downgrading sponsors from an A to a B rating
The Home Office know that most sponsors who employ or teach migrant workers or students are honest and will comply with their duties. However, they have a duty to ensure that they deal appropriately with the minority who do not comply.
The following procedures make sure that The Home Office enforce sponsor duties, identify dishonest or incompetent sponsors quickly, and cancel their licences and punish them. As well as taking enforcement action for sponsorship, they will punish any sponsors that breach the laws on illegal working. Home Office staff are trained and equipped to issue civil penalties and will refer more serious offences for prosecution.
How to renew or surrender your sponsor licence
This section explains how you can renew or surrender your licence to sponsor migrants under the points-based system.
Renewing a sponsor licence
A sponsor licence will last for four years, which will start from the date:
the licence was issued; or
it first became possible to issue certificates of sponsorship under a tier, category, or sub-category to which the licence relates, whichever is the later.
If you have been issued with a licence and later apply for an additional tier, category or sub-category, the expiry date of the original licence will apply to all additional tiers.
If your licence expires at the end of this period and is not renewed, your organisation will lose the right to issue certificates of sponsorship, and will not be able to continue to act as a sponsor. Any remaining leave they have granted to migrants you sponsored will be cancelled (curtailed).
When to apply to renew your sponsor licence
You should apply to renew your sponsor licence before it expires. They will remind it of the need to renew before the licence expires, but it is your responsibility to renew. They will not accept late applications for renewal, and you will need to re-apply for a licence.
If you have sponsored migrants working for, or studying with you, you will need to renew your licence for as long as you want to keep employing them or having them as students. This applies even if you do not want to sponsor any new migrants.
You must renew your sponsor licence every four years to satisfy The Home Office that you are still operating and still want to be a sponsor. The Home Office will deal with applications for renewal in the same way as they deal with applications for a new licence at the time of the application for renewal. You will not usually need to send the documents you sent with your initial application for a licence. As long as you apply to renew your licence before it has expired, you will be able to continue acting as a sponsor, for example by assigning certificates of sponsorship and keeping current migrants, until they have made a decision on your renewal application.
Surrendering a sponsor licence
If you no longer want to sponsor migrants and have no sponsored migrants currently working for or studying with you, you may surrender your licence. They will then remove your organisation from the register of sponsors, and you may apply for a new licence at any time.
The overriding principle
When considering your sponsor licence application, Home Office ask three main questions:
Are you a genuine organisation operating lawfully in the United Kingdom? You must prove this by sending certain documents listed in Appendix A of the full policy guidance of the policy guidance.
Are you trustworthy? The Home Office look at the history and background of your organisation, your key personnel and the people who control the organisation. Any history of dishonest conduct or immigration crime will be viewed seriously and may mean The Home Office refuse your application.
Are you capable of carrying out your duties as a sponsor? They judge this by looking at your organisation's processes and human resource practices (or student attendance monitoring practices in the case of education providers), to ensure that you can carry out your duties. If The Home Office have significant doubts, they may award a B rating or, in more serious cases, refuse your application.