Under current regulations, the process for renewing your sponsor licence is the same for all registered sponsors.
You might be an employer who has held a sponsor licence since the inception of the points-based system in 2008. Or you may be a very newly registered sponsor under the new points-based system.
Key Personnel of the licence can change over time, and it’s important that the current users of your Sponsor Management System (SMS) know how to renew your sponsor licence on time.
Practically speaking, renewing your sponsor licence is incredibly simple.
There is not much mystery around the process.
The submission sheet confirms who submitted the renewal, the date of the renewal, the submission application reference number and the fee you paid.
If you navigate back to the “Licence Summary” on the SMS, you’ll see that the licence has been automatically extended for another 4 years.
Your licence will not lapse, where you have made a renewal application before the current expiry date.
The actual renewal of the licence is subject to the Home Office’s approval of your application.
Employers who hold a licence under the International Sportsperson worker route need to submit a sports governing body endorsement with their renewal application. Employers who have a Temporary Worker – International Agreement licence must also provide additional evidence, if they are a diplomatic/ consular mission or international organisation (i.e., a consent letter).
Otherwise, you are not normally required to submit documents in support of a sponsor licence renewal.
The Home Office reserve the right to request additional supporting evidence to process the application, although this would be rare, as background and verification checks are made internally by the caseworkers.
You can apply up to 3 months before the expiry date of your sponsor licence.
The Authorising Officer should receive periodic reminder emails about the expiry in advance.
Sponsor licence renewals, don’t always, but can, trigger a Home Office visit.
The likelihood of a compliance visit would increase, if the Home Office spot inconsistencies or discrepancies on your Sponsor Management System when compared to other company information the Home Office may have access to (HMRC records, Companies House, governing bodies, online checks etc).
For example, if you recently moved office, but did not report the change within 20 working days of your move, this could come to light at a renewal (serious sponsorship breach).
Another possibility is that you might have stopped employing a sponsored worker after a short period of employment – but forgot to report their end of sponsorship within 10 working days of their termination (serious sponsorship breach).
Suppose you recently made a quota request for certificates of sponsorship – but indicated an intention to use undefined certificates for overseas hires – again, this kind of mistake could be spotlighted at a renewal.
Sponsor breaches are always serious – and can cause a lot of damage if discovered (unrectified) whilst your licence is under attention, during the renewal.
The lead-up to a sponsor licence renewal is a great time to audit your records to ensure that the Sponsor Management System is totally up to date – so both Migrant Change of Circumstances (MCOC) and Sponsor Changes of Circumstances (SCOC) have been submitted as needed.
You can also get help to ensure that you/your HR staff are using the SMS correctly and manging your internal HR records properly, and in line with sponsor requirements.
Processing times vary widely and can be as little as a few weeks.
Even if your application takes months to be processed, provided you applied in-time (i.e., before the licence expiry date) you can continue to access and use your Sponsor Management System as normal, whilst you wait for a decision.
There is no service to expedite the sponsor licence renewal, so you just need to wait patiently until the decision is made.
The fee for an organisation classified as “small” or a charitable organisation is £536.
For those renewing under the Temporary Worker route, the fee is also £536.
The fee for other sponsors is £1,476.
It’s very essential that you check your company classification before submitting your renewal.
If you pay the wrong fee (i.e., underpay), your application can and will be rejected.
If the rejection is processed after your licence expires, then you will lose your sponsor status and literally must re-apply for a sponsor licence (see below).
Maybe you simply forgot to renew your licence before the deadline.
Possibly you were unable to access the Sponsor Management System on time (you forgot to replace your only Level 1 user, who has since left the business?).
Perhaps you let your licence lapse and then changed your mind?
Either way, if your licence expires, you will need to apply for a new licence and cannot restore or revive the expired sponsor licence.
You would lose access to the old Sponsor Management System, but, if you make a successful fresh application, you would be granted a new licence, from which you can continue to sponsor migrant workers.
Any employees you might have been sponsoring on the expired licence could, in theory, be transferred to the new sponsor licence, but you would need to make a timely application to achieve this result, bearing in mind that your workers’ visas would become subject to 60-day curtailment (i.e., having their visa cut short) following your licence expiry.
At A Y & J Solicitors, we can help you to not only process your renewal application, but we can also help you to prepare comprehensively for a Home Office visit that could be triggered by a sponsor licence renewal application.
Trust us to help you maintain your A-rating and be confident that your renewal will be processed hassle-free.