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10 June 2024

Sponsor Licence rejected versus refused

When you apply for a Sponsor Licence, there is always a chance your application will be rejected or refused. Read on to find out what the differences are, and what you can do about it.
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Sponsor Licence rejected 1

Many companies look into applying for a Sponsor Licence so that they can begin hiring workers from overseas. Workers from abroad can fill specialist roles that are hard to find domestic workers for, such as jobs as a translator. 

Having a licence allows you to issue Certificates of Sponsorship to people you want to hire, so that they can then apply for their visa to work in the UK. However, it is a long process before you can get to this point.

If you are reading this then you are probably wondering: ‘what happens if my Sponsor Licence application is refused or rejected?’ We shall tell you what the differences are, how to avoid them, and what your options are.

What are the key differences between a rejection and a refusal?

When you apply for a Sponsor Licence, it will either be approved, rejected, or refused. An approval is self-explanatory, as it just means that your application has been successful.

Both a Sponsor Licence rejection and refusal will result in you not being able to get your Sponsor Licence. However, a rejection is much easier to deal with, and you can easily re-apply. A refusal is issued in more serious circumstances, and you will not be able to instantly re-apply.

There are many details that you should know about rejections and refusals, which we shall discuss in more detail later on.

Sponsor Licence rejected

Rejections happen when UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) decide that your application is invalid. Essentially, it is because you have made a mistake in your application. For example, if you forgot to include supporting evidence or a business document. 

After a rejection, you will be refunded, and you can easily re-apply once you have fixed any issues. A rejection is not a major issue, but it will cost you some time and delay your ability to hire overseas workers.

Some reasons for a rejection are:

  • Not paying the correct application fee
  • Failing to complete and submit the submission sheet within 5 days of being asked
  • Not appointing an Authorising Officer, Key Contact, and a Level 1 User in your organisation to manage the Sponsorship Management System
  • Missing supporting documentation; for example, proof you are registered with the Care Quality Commission if you are hiring care workers


The types of supporting documents you have to provide will vary based on what visa you plan on hiring workers for. The
Tier 2 Minister of Religion Visa and Religious Worker Visas will require that you provide information such as which faith you belong to, your hierarchy, and the size of your congregation, amongst other details.

The Government has a webpage that goes through each different route into the UK that organisations can hire for, and discusses the different supporting documents. We recommend that you visit the page to ensure that you include everything. Alternatively, you can get the help of a legal professional, such as our helpful immigration team.

Sponsor Licence application refused

Unlike a rejection, a Sponsor Licence refusal is very serious. It is not something that results from a submission error that you can just easily fix, and then re-apply. 

A refusal means there is something intrinsically wrong with how your company functions, and that UKVI does not think it is fit to be a Sponsor Licence holder. You will not be able to re-apply whenever you want, as there is a cooling off period of 6 to 12 months. In particularly egregious cases, the cooling off period can last up to 5 years.

Refusals do not result in your fee being refunded, and you do not have the right to an administrative review. However, you do have the option of an Error Correction request if it appears to be an issue on the side of the UKVI, and not your own fault. You will have 14 days to do this, and you will receive a response within 28 days.

Also, you can request a judicial review if you think that the refusal was unlawful. A judge will review the refusal, and come to a decision based on how the UKVI came to the conclusion that your application should be refused. You would also need to demonstrate to the court that the refusal was not reasonable. 

Reasons for a refusal include:

  • Submitting false or incorrect documents
  • Failing a compliance visit from the Home Office; this is carried out as part of your application
  • Failing to prove that you genuinely a Sponsor Licence
  • Appointing someone with key personnel duties who has worked in an organisation that received a Sponsor Licence revocation in the last 12 months
  • Committed immigration offences in the last 12 months
  • Submitting your documents too late


To avoid a refusal, do not try to falsify anything, and make sure your organisation meets the requirements to be a Sponsor Licence holder to begin with.

Sponsor Licence checks and revocations

In your initial application, the Home Office will carry out a check to ensure that you comply with the rules. This will either be done in person, or remotely.

However, this is not the only time they will carry out a check. Every now and then, the Home Office will perform a check to see if you are still complying with the rules and monitoring your sponsored employees properly. They will either announce the check in advance, or just turn up unannounced. 

They will check your records, talk to your employees, and ask you some questions. You must ensure that you are complying with the rules at all times.

If you have failed to comply with the rules, your Sponsor Licence could be downgraded, or even revoked.

We have a guide to Sponsor Licence checks if you are interested in learning more.

How we can help

There is not much we can do if your Sponsor Licence application has been refused. However, we can assist you with your application to make sure that you do not get a refused or rejected Sponsor Licence to begin with.

Our experienced law team have helped many organisations in applying for their Sponsor Licences, as well as renewing them, challenging downgrades, and applying for more Certificates of Sponsorship. 

You can directly arrange a free 10-minute assessment to discuss your issue, contact us via our chat bubble on our website, or email us. After this, if we have decided we are capable of helping you, you can book a longer, paid consultation that can last either 30 minutes, or an hour. Learn what to expect at your appointment on our website.

Get in touch with us today to see how we can help you with your Sponsor Licence application.

Ready for assistance?

If you have any questions, or want to book an appointment with one of our legal experts, contact Woodcock Law today. Call us on +44 (0)20 7712 1705 or email info@woodcocklaw.co.uk.

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