A number of businesses have now had their sponsor licence suspended by UKVI. Our lawyers were recently instructed to provide assistance to a sponsor against which UKVI had taken action to suspend and then revoke its Tier 2 and Tier 4 sponsor licence.
We immediately reviewed the sponsor’s position and noted that there were a number of areas that UKVI had not taken into account when deciding a sponsor licence suspended outcome, including the potential impact such action would have on children who would be forced to change institutions at a critical stage in their education.
Permission to apply for a judicial review
We instructed leading counsel and commenced the preparation of a Pre-Action Protocol letter and an application to the High Court for permission to apply for a judicial review of UKVI’s decision. Such proceedings are initiated under Part 54 of the Civil Procedure Rules and are the only way a sponsor can challenge enforcement action of this nature in the court.
We also commenced the preparation of an application for interim relief. This is the process whereby the court is asked to make an order preventing UKVI from carrying out the revocation action pending a full hearing. If interim relief is granted, sponsored students and staff are able to remain in situ pending the full hearing which can take many months to be listed. This step is important because when it revokes a licence, UKVI’s general position is that those who are sponsored must make plans to transfer to an alternative sponsor or leave the UK.
Successful negotiations with UKVI
If an organisation has had its sponsor licence suspended, it is also important to try and negotiate an acceptable outcome with UKVI.
During this time we also therefore continued to negotiate directly with senior officials at UKVI with whom we have established a good working relationship over the years. We outlined the basic points of our client’s legal case and asked UKVI to reconsider its position in order that both it and our client could avoid potentially costly and time-consuming litigation and, most importantly, to ensure that the children who were studying with our client would be unaffected.
UKVI considered our submissions and agreed to reinstate our client’s Tier 2 and Tier 4 licence on a holistic basis. Our client has therefore been able to continue the excellent work it does, its sponsored students and employees have not been affected and all parties have avoided litigation. This also demonstrates that UKVI is willing to review its decisions and change them if that is appropriate taking into account all the circumstances.
Sponsors should note that they need to have an extremely strong case if their applications for judicial review or interim relief are to be successful or if they are to successfully persuade UKVI to reconsider suspension or revocation decisions. It is imperative that early action is taken and that negotiations with UKVI commence as quickly as possible and continue whilst the legal case is being prepared.
If your organisation has had its sponsor licence suspended or is subjected to other enforcement action by UKVI and you need assistance, please contact us.