Sponsor License Downgrading

Sponsor License Downgrading

There are various consequences if your sponsor license is downgraded to a B-rating.

Awards and Accreditations

Downgrading Criteria


Downgrading to a B-rating is one of the options that might be taken where there are Sponsor failings.

The mandatory criteria for downgrading include: 

  • A foreign worker claiming benefits with the Sponsor’s knowledge,
  • Using procedures that are not fully compliant with Sponsor duties, and
  • Failing to provide a document or information within the given time limit

The discretionary downgrading criteria include:

  • Sponsoring more than 20 migrants in the Tier 2 ICT Graduate Trainee category with start dates in the same financial year,
  • Failing to provide a document or information listed in Appendix D (i.e. the record-keeping requirements for sponsored migrants) within the specified time limit, and
  • Failing to comply with Sponsor duties.

There are various consequences following downgrading:

  • The customer services benefits package for Premium and SME+ “A-rated” Sponsors is lost,
  • An action plan will be provided, for which there is a fee – typical requirements are improvements to recordkeeping, improving control over staff assigning Certificates of Sponsorship,
  • No further Certificates of Sponsorship may be assigned during B-rating status until the action plan fee is paid and the Home Office accept that commitment to improvements is shown by signing up to the measures therein,
  • The steps in the action plan accompanying downgrading must be successfully implemented within a time limit of three months,
  • A Sponsor confronted with an action plan must make payment within 10 working days using the SMS in which case licensed sponsor status continues,
  • If the Sponsor declines to pay the fee by reporting this decision on the SMS, they may surrender their licence, and will be treated as doing so if they fail to make payment within 10 working days – if they take no action, the licence will simply be revoked,
  • During an action plan period, no new CoSs can be assigned, except for migrants already sponsored under Tiers 2 or 5 who are extending their leave to remain, or who are switching from a Work Permit
  • The Home Office reserve the right to make further compliance visits during the action plan period – if CoSs are assigned to new migrants, the licence will be revoked

At the end of the action plan period, UKVI will visit to see if the requirements are met:

  • if not, the licence will be revoked;
  • if the plan is met and there are no other concerns, an A-rating will be awarded and the CoS allocation threshold will be reviewed if new migrants require sponsorship;
  • if the plan is met, but there are some new concerns, then a further action plan and extension of the B-rating may ensue  – however there may only be two action plans during the validity of a Sponsor licence (i.e. four years) and a licence will be revoked if there are further concerns after this. If an action plan extends into a new licence period, then it will be treated as one of the two tolerated plans over the span of that licence
  • A confident Sponsor can request a visit before the three months are up to demonstrate compliance with the action plan before the full period expires, though the Guidance indicates there will only be one compliance visit

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