It is no secret that ongoing immigration compliance is being investigated much more rigorously with what used to be regarded as minor non-compliance issues now being the cause for sponsor licence suspensions and revocations. An example of this can be seen in the case of R (Raj & Knoll Ltd) v SSHD  EWHC 1329 (Admin)- this is the first case to come before the UK courts concerning Tier 2 of the UK’s points-based immigration system.
Facts of Raj & Knoll Ltd v SSHD
In this case, the Claimant was a private company (and Tier 2 sponsor) which ran 3 nursing homes in Kent and employed 65 people, 39 of whom were sponsored migrants. Following a number of unannounced compliance visits and an interview with the Authorising Officer, UKVI made the decision to suspend the Claimant’s sponsor’s licence for its failure to comply with its sponsor duties, namely its:
- Failure to retain evidence which confirmed that the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) had been carried out;
- Failure to retain copies of qualifications, shortlists or interview records relating to the recruitment of sponsored workers;
- Failure to retain evidence of right to work checks; and
- Failure to report migrant activity and changes to sponsor’s details (such as change of address).
The Claimant was given the opportunity to make submissions and address these issues but failed to do so which led to the revocation of its sponsor licence. This resulted in the sponsored workers leave being curtailed (cut short) and the business losing the right to sponsor skilled workers from overseas.
Judicial Review of UKVI’s Revocation Decision
In bringing judicial review proceedings, the Claimant argued that the decision to revoke its sponsor licence was irrational and its breach of its sponsor duties was minimal.
However, the court described the Claimant’s attitude to the Tier 2 Sponsor Guidance as “sloppy and cavalier” and made clear that the essence of the sponsor licence system was that the Secretary of State imposed “a high degree of trust” in Tier 2 and 5 sponsors and the sponsor was expected to carry out its responsibilities “with all the rigour and vigilance of the immigration control authorities”.
Upholding UKVI’s decision to revoke the care homes sponsor licence, Justice Caddon-Cave made it clear that even though there is discretion to impose a sanction other than revocation, revocation would be the normal outcome in cases of non-compliance.
The Court’s suggestion that compliance with the sponsorship regime was “not difficult” represents a judicial endorsement of UKVI’s broad scope to revoke sponsor licences even if an infraction is minor.
It is therefore, important that sponsors have diligent record-keeping processes in place as UKVI will not tolerate non-compliance with its guidance. Sponsors must also be aware of what activity needs to be reported via the SMS as failure to keep the Home Office informed could lead to suspensions and revocations of sponsor licences.
Business immigration lawyers at Clarkslegal recommend that you carry out regular audits of the management of your sponsor licence and prevention of illegal working checks.
If you require further information or assistance with business immigration, please contact our specialist immigration team.