Care provider wins legal challenge against Home Office over loss of migrant sponsor licence

A care provider has won a High Court challenge against the Government’s decision to revoke a migrant worker sponsor licence that could have meant up to 68 people and their families would have had to leave the UK.

Supporting Care Limited, which has contracts with the NHS and councils to provide at home services to the vulnerable and elderly across London, took legal action against the Home Office after losing the licence in June last year.

The immigration sponsor licence had allowed the care provider to recruit and sponsor 68 “skilled migrants”, out of a total workforce of 162 employees, a judge was told.

But following a routine inspection, the Home Office was not satisfied that the role filled by one employee was a “genuine vacancy” and alleged it had been “exaggerated in order to facilitate her stay in the UK”.

A hearing in London in November was told that the revocation of the licence meant that “all 68 migrant workers will be required to find another sponsor or be required to leave the United Kingdom within 60 days of notice” from the Home Office.

It also meant the care provider would “no longer be able to retain any skilled migrant” which “would likely undermine its operations and ability to fulfil its contracts within an industry involving vulnerable individuals”.

This impact had to be balanced against the principles of the licensing scheme, with the Home Office entrusting those with licences to act in a way that “maintains proper immigration control”, the court was told.

Notices had not been served at the time of the hearing, with the Home Office deciding to wait until the outcome of the legal challenge.

The Home Office said it had considered whether it was appropriate to “downgrade” the licence and issue an “action plan”, but decided that there should be a mandatory revocation and “firm response”.

The care provider said that had the allegations been put to staff in interviews, it would have been able to demonstrate the role was a genuine vacancy and the employee’s duties matched a job description.

In a ruling on Friday, a judge ruled that there had been no “procedural unfairness” over the interviews, nor had the Home Office acted “unreasonably and/or irrationally” when deciding the employee’s role was “exaggerated” and that there had been “dishonesty”.

But the judge concluded that the Government department “failed to conduct an adequately reasoned global assessment of all relevant considerations” when deciding whether to revoke or downgrade the sponsor licence.

Judge Bilal Siddique (pictured) said: “There was no actual, or at least demonstrable, engagement with any other consideration such as the impact of revocation upon the other 67 migrant workers and their families, the vulnerable individuals under care or to adverse impact to (Supporting Care Limited) and the wider industry.

“There was similarly no engagement with the question of whether revocation in such circumstances is reasonable and proportionate when a finding in relation to dishonesty related only to the role of a single employee from a workforce of 162 workers, including 68 skilled migrant workers.”

The judge said the decision to revoke the licence was quashed.

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2024, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) The Judicial Appointments Commission.