Overview of Sponsor Licence Renewals
A sponsor licence renewal is a process which lets sponsor licence holders continue to employ foreign workers legally in the UK.
You can renew your sponsor licence within three months of the expiry of your current sponsor licence. This can sometimes be extended in certain circumstances.
To submit a sponsorship licence renewal application, you must use the sponsor management system (SMS). This is the same tool which is used to issue certificates of sponsorship to Skilled Worker visa holders and other foreign workers.
To renew a sponsor licence, you must present up-to-date and detailed records of all the employees you have sponsored while holding your current sponsorship licence.
We provide visa and sponsor guidance to businesses looking to employ and retain foreign workers. Get in touch with us today on 0333 305 9375for assistance with your sponsor licence renewal application.
- Overview of Sponsor Licence Renewals
- What is the Sponsor Licence Renewal Process?
- What Are Compliance Visits?
- What Happens After I Submit My Licence Renewal?
- What is the Streamlined Renewal Process?
- When Should I Renew My Sponsor Licence?
- What If My Sponsor Licence Renewal Has Been Refused?
- What Happens if I Don’t Renew My Sponsor Licence?
- What Are the Sponsor Licence Renewal Fees?
- How Long Do Sponsor Licence Renewals Take to Process?
- How to avoid a refused sponsor licence renewal
- What to do if your sponsor licence has already expired
- How Can IAS Help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Sponsor Licence Renewal Process?
Renewing your sponsor licence will allow you to continue to hire and employ foreign workers for your business.
To apply for a Sponsorship Licence renewal, you must submit a request through the SMS. The renewal fee will vary depending on the size of your company.
Before you submit your application, you should make sure that all the details provided in the SMS are correct. This includes making sure that the details for the SMS users (‘Authorising Officer’ and ‘Level 1/2 Users’) are accurate.
These roles can change during the time that you hold your sponsor licence, so it is important to make sure that they have been updated. You should also make sure that any new company sites have been added to the SMS and that all employee details are fully up to date. If any of this information is wrong or absent, you could risk having your renewal refused.
Once you have submitted your application and the appropriate fee to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), you will receive a ‘submission sheet’ generated by the SMS after the licence renewal declaration screen. This should be completed, signed and sent to the Sponsor Licensing Unit.
What Are Compliance Visits?
As part of the sponsor licence renewal process, you may be visited by a Home Office Compliance Officer.
The purpose of these visits will be to ensure that the following are true when assessing your eligibility for a sponsor licence renewal:
- You’re meeting your sponsor licence duties and obligations
- You have the necessary systems and procedures in place to meet your sponsorship obligations
- The information given on your sponsor licence application is accurate and true
- You’re complying with their obligations to prevent illegal working
In addition, a Compliance Officer may wish to speak to the employees that you’re sponsoring in order to verify their personal information and ensure that the correct procedures are being followed in regards to their working conditions and sponsorship.
You must ensure that you have adequately prepared for your compliance visit and have your processes, information and documentation in order, or else risk having your sponsor licence renewal application refused.
What Happens After I Submit My Licence Renewal?
After you submit your sponsor licence renewal, the Home Office will carefully review your application to ensure that you meet the necessary requirements.
This will include making sure that you still comply with all of the eligibility criteria and guidelines for sponsor licence holders. For instance, this may include making sure that you have all of the necessary HR systems, staff and procedures in place to manage foreign workers.
The Home Office will also review all current certificates of sponsorship that have been issued by your company.
You may be contacted by the Home Office and be asked to provide additional documents to aid the application review process.
If this happens, you must ensure that you provide these documents within five days of the initial request. Failing to do so may risk your renewal application being refused or revoked, or your certificate of sponsorship allocation being reduced.
What is the Streamlined Renewal Process?
The streamlined sponsor licence renewal process is a way in which organisations can attain faster processing for licence renewals under specific circumstances.
You will normally have to have had at least two successful licence renewals in the past, with no other compliance concerns.
For streamlined licence renewals, the Home Office will normally opt not to carry out the following:
- Company and insolvency checks
- Certificate of sponsorship usage reviews
- Licence structure reviews
- Visit history reviews
- Outstanding change requests reviews
- Risk profile reviews
- Accreditation and registration details checks
- Other trading checks
- Compliance visit referrals
When Should I Renew My Sponsor Licence?
You should apply to renew your Sponsorship Licence up to three months before your current sponsor licence expiry date. In some cases, the Home Office may invite you to apply for a renewal earlier than this, but this is up to their discretion. If this is the case, you will receive this in writing from UKVI.
Sponsor licences are usually valid for up to four years at a time. The date of your current licence’s expiry can be found on the summary page of the sponsor management system.
Note that you will not be able to apply to renew your sponsor licence after your licence’s expiry date.
It’s therefore important to ensure that you submit your renewal application well before the expiry date to allow for any unexpected issues or problems that may arise.
What If My Sponsor Licence Renewal Has Been Refused?
If your application for sponsor licence renewal has been refused, it’s important to determine why this is before thinking about your next steps.
Reasons for refusal may include any of the following:
- Failing to provide the Home Office with adequate information or documentation
- Failing to comply with sponsor duties and obligations
- Failing to pay the licence renewal fee, or paying the incorrect amount
- Failing to keep and file the correct documentation on foreign workers
- Failing to pass compliance visits
- Failing to meet Home Office reporting guidelines
If you believe that your sponsor licence renewal was refused because of an error, or because your supporting documents were not sufficiently considered, you may wish to consider applying for a review.
You must ensure that you’re certain that you have grounds for review if you choose to take this option.
Otherwise, you will have to submit a new application for a sponsor licence in order to issue certificates of sponsorships to foreign workers again. If doing so, you must ensure that you’ve addressed the underlying issues or problems that led to your licence renewal’s refusal.
What Happens if I Don’t Renew My Sponsor Licence?
If you don’t renew your sponsor licence, it will automatically expire on the expiry date listed and you will no longer be able to act as a sponsor from that date.
You will then lose your ability to grant new certificates of sponsorship to foreign workers, as well as losing your ability to continue to sponsor current employees.
This may result in your current employees’ leave to remain being curtailed.
If you’re recorded as still sponsoring foreign workers after your sponsor licence expires, the UK government’s management information team will report this to the Home Office and your permission will be curtailed.
You may then have to face certain penalties for illegally sponsoring foreign workers without a certified licence.
If your licence expires and you still need ongoing permission to sponsor foreign workers, you may still be able to submit an application for a sponsor licence renewal.
However, this is not guaranteed. In the case where you’re ineligible to submit a renewal application, you may have to submit a new application for a new sponsor licence from scratch.
What Are the Sponsor Licence Renewal Fees?
The sponsor licence renewal fee you will be expected to pay will depend on the size of your business, as well as the type of licence you wish to renew.
The fees are as follows:
|Type of Licence||Fee for Small or Charitable Sponsors||Fee for Medium or Large Sponsors|
|Worker and Temporary Worker||£536||£ 1,476|
Note that your business will be classed as a small sponsor if at least two of the following criteria apply to you:
- Your annual turnover is £10.2 million or less
- Your total assets are worth £5.1 million or less
- You have 50 employees or fewer
You may also wish to pay an additional £500 fee if you’d like your application to be processed faster.
How Long Do Sponsor Licence Renewals Take to Process?
Most sponsor licence renewal applications are processed within 8 weeks.
There are some additional steps you may take if you’re looking to minimise the time it takes for your application to be processed. For example, if the Home Office requests any additional information or documentation from you, you should aim to provide this to them as quickly as possible.
Additionally, ensuring that your SMS, records and processes are fully compliant and within regulations will help to streamline the process.
This will especially apply if you receive a compliance visit from a Home Office official.
If you need your renewal application to be processed quicker, you may be able to pay for priority processing. With this service, you will be able to get your application processed within 10 days.
However, note that only a small number of applications can take advantage of this service every day, operating on a ‘first come, first serve’ basis.
How to avoid a refused sponsor licence renewal
To avoid a denied sponsor licence renewal and maintain the ability to sponsor skilled workers from abroad, follow these simplified steps:
- Apply Early: Start renewing your licence well before it expires to handle any issues.
- Be Compliant: Always follow sponsor duties, keep accurate records, and obey immigration rules.
- Check Eligibility: Ensure your organisation still meets renewal criteria, like genuine need and legitimacy.
- Monitor and Report: Keep an eye on sponsored workers and report status changes to the Home Office.
- Cooperate: Prepare for Home Office visits, cooperate fully, and provide requested documents.
- Seek Help: Consult immigration experts or legal advisors if you’re uncertain about compliance or eligibility. Contact IAS today to get started.
- Document Care: Maintain clear records of sponsored workers, their details, and any changes.
- Pay Fees: Ensure all fees for your current licence are paid on time.
- Communicate: Respond promptly to Home Office communications and provide requested information.
- Train Staff: Educate your team about sponsor rules and requirements to enhance their understanding.
What to do if your sponsor licence has already expired
If your sponsor licence expires, act promptly:
- Stop employing sponsored workers under the expired licence to avoid penalties.
- Apply for licence renewal on the official website, meeting all criteria.
- If expired for less than 60 days, you can renew without losing workers.
- Reassign Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) after renewal.
- Inform sponsored workers about the renewal process.
- Maintain accurate records and comply with duties.
- Be aware of potential penalties for prolonged expiry.
- Seek legal advice if unsure or facing issues.
How Can IAS Help?
Many businesses make mistakes when renewing their sponsorship licences. This is because they feel that the process is simpler than it is.
While there are no limits to the number of attempts you can make when renewing a sponsor licence, each renewal will incur fresh costs. For this reason, it makes sense to get it right the first time.
Our team of corporate immigration lawyers can guide you through your entire renewal process to ensure that it is conducted properly and effectively.
As part of our services, you will be assigned your own lawyer who specialises in corporate immigration law. This lawyer will work with you to secure and organise your supporting documentation. They will also assist you with your use of the SMS, to ensure that you submit your renewal application properly.
Call us on 0333 363 8577 for free or use our online contact form to arrange your first consultation with one of our lawyers. If you need expert legal support, contact our offices in London, Manchester, or Birmingham, or use our office finder to find your closest branch.
Last modified on September 7th, 2023 at 2:29 pm
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The Sponsor Management System is an online tool used when an employer already has a sponsorship licence and wants to manage or renew it.
This system also allows you to report any changes in your circumstances and to keep track of the details of your current sponsorships.
You can use the SMS to do the following:
- Manage or renew your organisation’s licence or services
- Create and assign certificates of sponsorship to prospective employees
- Create and assign confirmations of acceptance for studies (CAS) to prospective students
- Report changes of circumstances of your sponsored employees or students, including withdrawals of sponsorship
- Report changes to your own circumstances, such as a change of owner or a new address
If you want to continue to legally employ non-EEA workers, yes.
Having a valid sponsor licence is essential if you want to recruit any individuals who are subject to immigration controls.
If you knowingly employ workers without a sponsor licence, even if you had one when you recruited them, you are employing illegal workers.
Employing illegal workers can result in penalties issued by the Home Office, called civil penalties. These are financial punishments, which must be paid by a company or business.
UKVI also often suspends a company’s right to employ foreign workers in the future. Illegal worker employers also risk losing their reputation and employees and, in some cases, being imprisoned.
It’s important to know what type of category your organisation falls into before applying for a sponsor licence or a licence renewal.
For example, charitable sponsors may be able to take advantage of reduced licence fees, regardless of the size of their business or their annual turnover.
According to Home Office Guidance, you are a charitable sponsor if you’re any one of the following:
- A registered charity in England or Wales
- A registered charity in Scotland
- A registered charity in Northern Ireland – if you’re not on the register, you must provide proof of your charitable status for tax purposes from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
- An excepted charity
- An exempt charity
- An ecclesiastical corporation established for charitable purposes
Charities that may be exempt from having to register include universities, museums and galleries, and some school governing bodies or academy trusts.
As part of our services, your business will be paired with a specialist corporate immigration lawyer.
This lawyer will work alongside your business and its representatives to ensure that everything is in place for your sponsorship licence renewal.
This lawyer will:
- Assist you with your use of the sponsor management system (SMS), including ensuring that your key roles are up to date and that all information is factually and legally correct
- Ensure your employment records are up to date according to immigration guidelines – this includes having an organised and structure file on each visa-holding employee
- Organise your documentation so that it meets the UKVI requirements, including all certificates of sponsorship and job descriptions
- Prepare your business for a UKVI compliance visit
- Liaise with the Home Office whenever necessary, up until the day that you receive a decision from then
Call us on 0333 363 8577 or make an enquiry to request a free call back at a time which suits you.