In this post, we look at the reasons why a UK visa may be cancelled by the Home Office, what happens if a UK visa is cancelled by the Home Office, when cancellation of a UK visa takes effect and your options if your UK visa has been cancelled.
Why Are UK Visas Cancelled?
Visa cancellation can be the result of a number of circumstances, beyond the obvious reasons relating to receiving an exclusion or deportation order, or the Home Secretary finding that one's presence is not conducive to the public good.
Many reasons for cancellation of a UK visa are not related to criminality at all, for example:
Ceasing to Meet Requirements of the Immigration Rules
9.23.1. A person's entry clearance or permission may be cancelled if they cease to meet the requirements of the rules under which the entry clearance or permission was granted.
This may arise if, for example, you are here as a partner and your relationship with your sponsor breaks down so you are no longer in a 'genuine and subsisting relationship'.
Otherwise, visas can be cancelled if work or study circumstances change and you are no longer sponsored:
Withdrawal of Sponsorship or Endorsement Grounds
9.25.1. A person's entry clearance or permission may be cancelled where their sponsorship or endorsement has been withdrawn and they have entry clearance or permission on one of the following routes:
(a) Student; or
(b) Child Student; or
(c) Skilled Worker; or
(d) Intra-Company Transfer; or
(e) Intra-Company Graduate Trainee; or
(f) Representative of an Overseas Business; or
(g) T2 Minister of Religion; or
(h) International Sportsperson; or
(i) Temporary Worker; or
(j) Start-up; or
(k) Innovator; or
(l) Global Talent; or
(m) Global Business Mobility routes; or
(n) Scale-up (subject to paragraph 9.33.1.)."
Other reasons include if a student / worker does not start their study/work or ceases to study or work or changes employment or has unauthorised absences from employment.
One reason (ordinarily) beyond the control of the migrant, is if the sponsor loses their licence and therefore their ability to sponsor. We are seeing that this is an increasingly common reason for many individuals facing visa cancellation as the Home Office is re-visiting many decisions to grant companies licences since 2020. Where compliance visits find breaches of a sponsor's duties, their licence may be suspended or immediately revoked, meaning that all sponsored migrants and their dependent family members are facing cancellation.
Innovator migrants can also find their leave is cancelled if their endorsing body ceases to hold endorsing body status. However, the endorsing body list itself appears to have an exception to this rule:
Legacy Endorsing Bodies
The organisations listed in this section have chosen to no longer accept new Start-up/Innovator applications but are authorised to continue maintaining and monitoring their existing endorsed migrants. Please do not approach these organisations unless you are an existing endorsee.
- Level 39
- Natwest Entrepreneur Accelerator
- Royal Bank of Scotland Entrepreneur Accelerator
- Ulster Bank Accelerator
It is not clear that the 'legacy' status will be relevant for all endorsing bodies who cease to accept new applicants.
When Does Cancellation Take Effect?
"How long will I have?" is a very good question, and important to establish as soon as possible. Once a visa is cancelled, you will (normally) receive 60 days' notice for cancellation. This 60 day period will take effect from the date of the cancellation and not the date you receive the cancellation notice. If you have changed your address you will need to notify the Home Office of this change as otherwise you could miss a cancellation letter and thus become an overstayer without realising. You should be able to do this online.
It is not the case that if you resign / are sacked the Home Office will cancel your visa that day – it is their decision, rather than the specific trigger, which starts a 60 day count-down.
If your sponsor's licence was revoked and you were involved in the reasons for revocation, your visa can be cancelled with immediate effect – so this is also something to be wary of and it is important that you do not breach your conditions etc so as to risk this. If you are concerned about your sponsor's licence being revoked you should seek immigration advice.
What Are My Options if My UK Visa Is Cancelled?
During the 60 day period, you can apply for permission to stay, or may wish to leave the UK.
Please note – if, following a cancellation decision, you leave the UK you cannot re-enter without a new grant of leave, as cancellation takes effect immediately upon departure. For this reason, if you suspect your visa may be cancelled and you are outside of the UK, you must plan your return before there is a cancellation decision, or else re-entry may not be possible.
In the 60 day period, you can apply for permission to stay in any category for which you are eligible, for example:
- Skilled Worker, if you are able to obtain further sponsored work. This has to be for a company with a sponsor licence. It may be possible for a company wishing to sponsor you to obtain a licence within the 60 cancellation timeframe, but this is not guaranteed. Home Office processing for licence applications is 8 weeks as standard, but within 10 working days if priority processing services are obtained;
- Global Talent, if you are world leading in your field or have potential to become a world leader in your field, and you work in an area eligible for endorsement this could be a very attractive route. It is worth noting, however, that an endorsement application is not an immigration application, so applying for endorsement cannot extend your leave beyond the cancellation period. It would only be the second stage – the immigration application, which would do this;
- Student, if another eligible institution can issue a CAS in time;
- Innovator / Start-up, if you are able to obtain endorsement and have the requisite investment funds for Innovator or have never previously set up a UK business (for Start-up);
- As a partner, if you have a legal partnership or have cohabited for two years with someone who is British / settled / otherwise has status within the UK.
These are but examples, and the best thing to do if you suspect your visa will be cancelled is to seek independent legal advice at the earliest opportunity, so that you can plan accordingly and make sure that you do not breach the conditions.
You do not have to be granted permission in a new category within the 60 day period, so long as a valid application has been made before the new end date of your permission you will be permitted to remain in the UK while it is processed.
As always, it is imperative that you avoid becoming an overstayer and avoid breaching the conditions of your current permission. If you are in any doubt about the conditions you are also well advised to seek legal advice.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.