Where UKVI believes that a sponsor is failing to comply with its duties, it can downgrade the licence from A-rating (which is given when the licence is obtained), to a B-rating. The following breaches will result in a mandatory downgrading:
- a sponsor has certified that a migrant will not claim state benefits, but that migrant does do so, with the sponsor’s knowledge
- if it is found by compliance officers that a sponsor is not using a process or procedure necessary to comply with their sponsor duties
- where UKVI has asked for information or documentation from a sponsor and they fail to provide this within the given time limit.
In all other cases, UKVI has discretion to downgrade a licence.
Where a licence is downgraded a sponsor cannot assign a certificate of sponsorship to a migrant until it has shown that it is committed to making improvements by entering into an action plan devised by UKVI and paying the associated fee. The action plan will be in force for up to three months.
At the end of this period, UKVI will carry out a compliance visit. If it can be shown that all of the requirements of the action plan have been met, the sponsor’s A-rating will be re-instated however if this is not the case, the licence will be revoked.