In order to avoid delays when the UK’s participation in EU freedom of movement comes to an end on 1 January 2021, the Home Office has given employers whose sponsor licences are due for expiration additional time to complete the renewal process.
Under normal circumstances, recognised UK sponsors are given no more than 90 days before the expiration of their licences to organise renewals. However, with thousands of licences due to expire at the end of 2020- the same time that EU citizens will become subject to the same immigration requirements as all other overseas nationals- the Home Office has taken steps to avoid a significant backlog of applications.
Sponsors have already been contacted by the Home Office regarding the renewal process, and have been urged to consider the scope of the sponsor licence they will need in light of the new points-based immigration system that will come into effect on New Year’s Day.
Sponsors will have their licences automatically extended while the Home Office considers their renewal application, although this extension will become void if the wrong fee is paid. As a result, sponsors should apply as early as possible so that if the application is rejected, it can be resubmitted with the correct fee before the extension expires.
The Home Office has said that renewal applications ought to be processed within ten working days. Yet as with all immigration applications, this can take longer if the application is incorrect or if more information is required. Sponsors should conduct a mock audit so that any potential issues can be identified and rectified prior to the Home Office’s assessment of the licence.
If an application requires no further action and is resultantly approved, the sponsor will receive confirmation of the renewal via the Sponsor Management System (SMS) section headed ‘Applications and renewals tracking’.
Now that the Home Office has fleshed out the general details of the new points-based immigration system, sponsors should decide whether or not to apply for any additional licences so that EEA citizens can also be sponsored and recruited on a Skilled Worker Visa once the UK’s participation in freedom of movement draws to a close.
One key point to consider is whether an existing intra-company transfer licence will need to be updated so that EEA staff members can be transferred, or whether a new licence altogether will need to be applied for. In addition, sponsors should also consider whether Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) allocations will need to be increased to account for EEA citizens, as well as persons on Senior or Specialist Worker Visas who wish to switch onto the new Skilled Worker route.
The Home Office has also stated that in-person compliance audits will be resuming imminently. Compliance officers will follow advice from Public Health England regarding the wearing of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and maintaining social distancing. Further to this, officers will adhere to the COVID-19 preventative measures that individual sponsors have put in place.
If you’re concerned about how the forthcoming points-based immigration system will affect the way you recruit overseas nationals, get in contact with our client care team today on 0333 305 9375. We have advice appointments available at our offices across the UK, located in areas including London, Birmingham and Manchester.
UK Sponsors have been urged to carry out mock audits prior to the submission of their renewal application so that any potential compliance issues can be ironed out. [Image: Unsplash]
The Home Office has contacted all UK employers whose sponsor licences are due to expire before the end of the year. [Image: Relocate Magazine]
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