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Once the Home Office has made a decision on your sponsor licence application, they will write to you to tell you whether your licence application has been approved or refused. There is no right of appeal against the refusal of an application for a sponsor licence.  However, other potential remedies exist to challenge sponsor licence refusals.

Challenging Sponsor Licence Refusals

If the sponsor licence refusal decision was the result of either a caseworker error or the result of supporting evidence sent as part of your application not being considered by UKVI, then it is possible to request that the error be corrected and, if appropriate, submit a new online sponsor licence application.

If the decision to refuse your sponsor licence application was unlawful, unreasonable or procedurally improper, then you can apply to judicially review the refusal decision.

It is also possible to simply re-apply for a new sponsor licence, by submitting a fresh Sponsor Licence Application.

You can re-apply straight away if the Home Office refused your sponsor licence application because you failed to provide documents or information requested by a deadline for reasons beyond your control or because the online application was submitted by a representative.

You will have to wait 6 months before re-applying for a sponsor licence if you have been refused for any of the following reasons:

  • You submitted false documents or acted in bad faith;
  • You did not have sufficient processes to comply with your sponsor duties;
  • You have a relevant unspent criminal conviction;
  • You are legally banned from becoming a company director;
  • You do not have a trading presence in the UK;
  • You failed to meet the criteria to be a sponsor under the category which you applied.

If you have received a Civil Penalty then you should not re-apply for 12 months from the date on which the penalty became payable. In some cases, you may need to wait five years.

What else do I need to know about Sponsor Licence Refusals?

Requests for caseworker errors to be corrected need to be sent to the Home Office within 14 calendar days from the date of the refusal.

The Home Office will not consider any additional evidence which was not available at the time of the original sponsor licence application.

Applications for judicial review must be submitted promptly within 3 months of the refusal decision. You will first need to send a Pre-Action Protocol letter to the Home Office advising them of your intended judicial review claim and providing them with an opportunity to review their own decision.

If you decide to submit a fresh Sponsor Licence Application, you must ensure that the reasons for the earlier refusal are addressed as part of the application.

If you do re-apply, it is likely that you will receive a visit from a UKVI compliance officer who will undertake relevant checks to establish that you have the necessary systems and procedures in place to meet your sponsorship obligations.

How our immigration barristers can help

We understand that if your business depends on skilled migrant workers, a sponsor licence refusal can be detrimental.

Our immigration barristers are experts in challenging sponsor licence refusals.  We assist employers to identify and remedy caseworker errors in sponsor licence refusal decisions and bring judicial review proceedings to challenge sponsor licence refusal decisions. We also assist employers to prepare fresh applications for sponsor licences following previous refusal decisions.

We pride ourselves on being approachable and proactive in understanding and meeting our business clients’ needs. We are a highly driven team, dedicated to providing clear and reliable immigration advice directly to UK employers as part of a professional and friendly service.

We can also assist with

  • Sponsor Licence Applications

    If you are an employer seeking to employ an overseas national who is not a settled worker and who does not otherwise have immigration permission to work for you in the UK, you will need to submit a Sponsor Licence Application to UK Visas and Immigration.

    Whether you require advice on the correct company-related documentation to provide in support of a sponsor licence application or assistance with drafting a compelling business case that will satisfy UKVI that you need a sponsor licence in order to fill a genuine role, our immigration barristers can manage the sponsor licence application process on your behalf.

  • Sponsor Licence Renewals

    The requirement to renew Sponsor Licences every four years was abolished on 6 April 2024.

    Prior to this date, Sponsor Licences were only valid for four years.  If licence holders wished to keep their licence beyond four years, they had to make a paid renewal application.

    From 6 April 2024, Sponsor Licence holders are no longer required to make a renewal application every four years or pay a renewal fee.  Instead, the expiry date of all sponsor licences has been automatically extended by the Home Office to expire in 10 years’ time.

    This change applies to all sponsor licences that are due to expire on or after 6 April 2024, and not only to new licences obtained after this date.  The extension of the expiry date is automatic and Sponsors do not need to take any action.

    Sponsors should, however, be aware that the Home Office is continuing to conduct compliance audits on an announced and unannounced basis. If UKVI compliance officers have any concerns about your actions as a sponsor then they may downgrade or revoke your licence. Sponsors should therefore continue to ensure that their record keeping and HR systems are up to date to ensure that they are complying with the sponsor licence duties, in case of an audit.

    If your sponsor licence is nearing its 10 year expiry date then our immigration barristers can assist you to renew your licence.

    Our immigration barristers are also well versed in the duties and responsibilities of licensed sponsors, including reporting duties, record-keeping duties and wider UK immigration law compliance duties.  We work closely with businesses to ensure that their HR and record-keeping processes are robust and can help to design and audit current right to work checks in the workplace. We can simplify the process for you and help to protect you and your business from any immigration compliance issues.

  • Sponsor Licence Suspensions and Revocations

    If UKVI believe that you are breaching your duties and pose a threat to immigration control, your sponsor licence may be suspended. If you are subject to a Sponsor Licence Suspension, you will not be able to sponsor new migrants, but your current sponsored migrants will be unaffected. UKVI may then reinstate your licence, downgrade it or revoke it.

    If you are failing to meet your sponsor duties in a serious way or stop operating in the UK, your licence will be revoked. If you are subject to a Sponsor Licence Revocation, any migrants you sponsor will have their leave curtailed. They will be given 60 calendar days to find alternative sponsorship or leave the UK.

    Our immigration barristers work with sponsors to secure reinstatement of their sponsor licences, ensuring that a robust case is presented to UKVI addressing any issues raised in suspension letters. If a decision has been taken to revoke a sponsor licence, our immigration barristers can advise on the merits of applying for Judicial Review of the revocation decision and, where appropriate, provide representation in Judicial Review proceedings.


To discuss your Sponsor Licence Refusal with one of our immigration barristers, contact our business immigration team on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form.

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