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What is the Sponsor Licence Renewal Process?
Under points-based system UK employers must hold a sponsor licence to employ skilled workers from outside the UK for positions that cannot be employed by a settled worker who are filling a genuine vacancy. Sponsor licences are granted for a 4-year period after which sponsors must ensure that they file an application for a sponsor licence renewal. This must be done in good time to avoid losing the ability to sponsor migrant workers currently working for them and to be able to continue sponsoring new personnel.
The UKVI can ask that any application for sponsor licence renewal to be supported by additional business-related documents. If these documents are requested, then the employer must send them to the Home Office within 5 working days. Any sponsor that fails to send these documents can be penalised by the UKVI through downgrade of their Certificate of Sponsorship allocation, or through suspension or revocation of their licence.
Sponsor Licence Renewal Process
The sponsor licence start date, end date and the date you can make an application to renew your licence can be found on the Licence Summary page of the Sponsor Management System (SMS) account. The renewal request and the fees should also be paid through the SMS account. The sponsor licence will be extended temporarily after sending the request to allow the Home Office to conduct relevant checks.
The Home Office advised that renewal applications be submitted three months prior to the expiry date of your current licence. The Home Office will send reminders; however, if the renewal is not done by the expiry date your licence will expire the following day.
The fee to extend is the same as applying for an initial sponsor licence.
Steps to take prior to the Sponsor Licence Renewal Process
It is important to be fully compliant before submitting the request for your sponsor Licence renewal. Thus, you must ensure that all the details on the Licence Summary page are correct and updated. If there are incorrect or outdated details, a report of these factors should be sent before submitting the renewal request. The paperwork of your sponsored workers should be up to date and easily available as well before submitting the renewal request.
The Home Office Compliance Visit and the Sponsor Licence Renewal process
You are advised to anticipate an announced or unannounced Home Office visit after the submission of your request. The Home Office may visit the sponsor’s business during the check for the renewal of the sponsor licence to assess that the organisation is complying with the requirements as a sponsor.
During this check, the Home Office will check that the sponsor is able to offer employment, the business is genuine and operating or trading fully in the UK and that the sponsored workers are carrying out work they are sponsored to do. The Home Office will also look at recruitment procedures in order to ensure that all sponsored roles meet the genuine vacancy test as referred to in the Sponsor Guidance.
If you do not apply to renew your licence and it expires, you will no longer be a licensed sponsor from the date of expiry. Under the rules in the Home Office Guidance for Sponsors you will lose access to your SMS account, the Home Office will shorten the sponsored migrants’ permissions to stay for a further 60 calendar days and forbid you from assigning more certificates of sponsorship (CoS).
How can NA Law Solicitors help with the Sponsor Licence Renewal process?
Our team of specialist Business Immigration solicitors are highly experienced at assisting with the renewal of sponsor licences. We can give advise on how to comply with the Home Office Guidance and ensure that your business is ready for the possible Compliance Checks in accordance with your duties as a sponsor, the genuine vacancy test and the sponsor licence process. We can also advise on how to employ migrants post-Brexit and all other related UK Corporate immigration matters.
Contact us today to find out if your company is eligible.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
You need a sponsorship licence if you plan on hiring employees from outside the EEA.
To meet the requirements, you must:
- be a genuine business or sole-trader which is legally operating in the UK.
- be able to demonstrate a genuine need for migrant workers.
- have no unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences, money laundering, or fraud.
- not pose any kind of threat to the UK via your company or any of its personnel.
- not have a history of failing to carry out sponsorship duties.
- have organised HR systems and records.
The Home Office fee depends on the type of business you have. For small businesses and charities the Tier 2 sponsorship fee is £536. For medium and large businesses the Tier 2 sponsorship fee is £1476. You are a small business if you have an annual turnover of £10.2 million and less than 50 employees.
Some of the most common reasons for Tier 2 sponsor visa rejection are:
- Non-compliance with the Home Office security standards
- Failing the genuineness test
- Failing to retain documentation on sponsored migrant workers
The Home Office will award you with a license rating. Your business will be placed on the UK Sponsorship Licence register. You will be able to issue Certificates of Sponsorship. Your license will be valid for 4 years.
Applying for a Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence is a lengthy and complex process. NA Law Solicitors can assist with your business immigration needs by managing the entire Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence application process. We can help you adhere to your duties as a Tier 2 sponsor and steer you towards a successful outcome. Subsequently, NA Law can assist with the following:
- Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence applications
- Audit existing HR and record keeping systems
- Acting as a key contact and/or level 1 user for your Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence
- Advising on Right to Work checks as set out by the Home Office guidance
- Applying for a restricted or unrestricted CoS and assigning it to the relevant workers
- Advising on how to deal with closure notices and civil penalty notices
- Assisting multi-nationals to bring their overseas staff to the UK via the Tier 2 Intra-company Transfer visa route
- Advising on Brexit-related issues faced by EEA national workers
- Advising on all other corporate immigration matters
During the sponsor licence application, the Home Office may come to conduct a compliance visit at the company premises. Our specialist team at NA Law Solicitors can conduct a mock audit for you. This will decrease the chance of an unsuccessful sponsor licence. Contact us for further information, advice or guidance.
Most applications are dealt with within 4 weeks. UKVI will contact the applicant once a decision is made.
Prior to making a decision on a Student sponsorship licence application or as a means to ensure a sponsor is adhering to its Student sponsor duties, UKVI may make an unannounced visit to inspect the sponsor’s HR policies and confirm they have sufficient measures in place to fulfil their obligations.
You can expect to be notified within a few weeks of submitting your application. However, if your case is complex, it may take longer to process.
The Immigration Skills Charge is an additional charge companies must pay for each foreign worker employed if they are applying for a visa to work in the UK for 6 months or more under either a:
- Tier 2 (General) Visa
- Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Visa
If the sponsored employee has their application refused or withdrawn, companies will be able to get a refund on the Immigration Skills Charge.
The Charge will not need to be paid if the employee:
- is switching from a Tier 4 (Student) Visa to a Tier 2 (General) Visa
- has a Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Graduate Trainee Visa
- will do a job with a PhD-level SOC code
You will be told how much to pay depending on the size of your company and how long the worker will be working for you.
For small sponsors, the charge is £364 for the first 12 months and a subsequent £182 for each additional 6 month period.
For medium or large sponsors, the charge is £1,000 for the first 12 months and a subsequent £500 for each additional 6 month period.