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Sponsor Licence Ratings

Where your sponsor licence application is approved, it is usually granted with an A-rated sponsor licence. This allows you to assign certificate of sponsorships to either migrants or students in or outside of the UK. The Home Office will then put you on the sponsor licence list.

Downgrading of your sponsor licence to a B-rating

If the Home Office finds that there are some issues which is required to be amended prior your rating to be put back to A-rating, they will set a reasonable action plan. This will allow you to continue holding the licence but will not be able to assign any certificate of sponsorship.

ICS Legal will be able to support you if this happens, by conducting our own review and work with the Home Office action plan.

Scoring system of the sponsor licence application

As part of the Home Office process, you will need to meet certain requirements, so they will use a scoring system to assess whether a sponsor licence application is granted. As it depends on the nature of your organisation, the scoring system will reflect on this.

Scores for civil penalties and criminal convictions

The only scores you can be given for criminal convictions are met or not met (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 “not-met” marking. Any other unspent convictions could also lead to a “not-met” marking.   

What the scores mean and how they affect your rating

Home Office will give an A rating if you receive a “met” in all the listed categories and there are no other reasons for giving a B rating or refusing your application. The Home Office gives a B rating if your organisation receives a “not-met” 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 “not-met” score in any of the three categories.

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.

When to apply to renew your sponsor licence

You should apply to renew your sponsor licence before it expires. The Home Office will send you reminders to renew the sponsor licence before it expires, but it is your responsibility to renew it. There may be requirements to provide up to date evidences depending on the size and type of organisation you are.

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. As long as you apply to renew your sponsor 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.

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