To protect your existing migrant workforce, you must apply for a sponsor license renewal every four years. Failing to do this will see your sponsor license revoked, meaning you will no longer be able to hire migrant workers. So, it’s essential to prepare ahead of time.
Before applying for your sponsor license renewal, you should follow a few steps to ensure everything goes smoothly.
- Keep up-to-date with deadlines, processing times and fees
- Update changes to the license summary page
Checking the Sponsor Management System (SMS) will show you the end date of your current license. You can apply for a sponsor license renewal at least 3 months before its expiry. That said, it’s better to act before that because these days, the Home Office pays a lot more attention to renewal applications than the initial application.
According to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), the processing time for 8 in 10 applications is approximately 8 weeks. Meanwhile, renewal fees range from £536 for small/charitable sponsors to £1,476 for medium/large sponsors. So, make sure you have ample time and funds to secure your renewal.
Make sure all your details are correct and up-to-date on your license summary page and report any changes. Changes could include:
- A change of address,
- A change of name,
- A structure or size change, or
- A change to the key personnel on the license
Changes to sponsored workers’ circumstances must be reported to the Home Office within 10 days. Meanwhile, more significant organisational changes, such as mergers and takeovers, could require a new sponsor license.
One important piece of sponsor license guidance is to check you are complying with your sponsor duties. Some of these duties include:
- Keeping accurate and complete records regarding sponsored workers (copies of each sponsored workers’ passport, worker’s date of entry into the UK, etc.)
- Electing Sponsor Management Roles (Authorising Officer, Key Contact and Level 1 User)
- Reporting on changes to the sponsored workforce (promotions, long absences, salary reductions, etc.)
- Complying with immigration law
- Collect documents needed for renewal
It’s important to have all of the relevant supporting documents needed for your license renewal. In certain circumstances, UKVI will require you to provide additional documents, too.
Tier 2 (Sportsperson) and Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) sponsors, for example, must submit an endorsement from a sports governing body. Meanwhile, Tier 5 International Agreement Worker sponsors must reach out to their organisation’s head office for a signed letter.
If UKVI makes a request, you must deliver the correct documents within 5 days.
It’s important that your HR system is fully functional and organised so that ID documents, BRPS, migrant addresses and contact details are all up-to-date and easily accessible.
Having electronic versions of records ensures documents are always on hand. This will help you avoid delays later on down the road.
As of 22 October 2020, the Home Office announced new immigration rules, followed by new guidance later on 19 November 2020. So, if you are approaching your four-year renewal, check to see if any updates to the immigration rules and policy guidance apply to you.
The Home Office may conduct a UKVI audit when you apply for your sponsor license renewal. This compliance visit will be unannounced, so a good way to prepare is to conduct a mock Home Office audit. After all, practice makes perfect.
This mock audit should assess whether key personnel are fully informed about their duties and review record-keeping systems to ensure robustness. You should also make certain the business is fully compliant with immigration law and provide proof that all migrant workers are appropriately qualified, registered, and experienced to do the job.
Equally, key personnel and workers should use this time to prepare for potential interviews with the Home Office.
Are you prepared for your sponsor license renewal? Review our checklist below to find out:
- Are you aware of upcoming deadlines, processing times and fees?
- Have you made the necessary changes to your license summary page?
- Are you complying with your sponsor duties?
- Do you have all the correct documentation?
- Are your records up-to-date and accessible?
- Have you reviewed changes to immigration rules and Home Office policy guidance?
- Have you conducted a mock Home Office audit?
Although preparing for your sponsor license renewal application is usually straightforward, it can still feel daunting. Here at Ash Norton Solicitors, we are experts in the immigration field and can advise you on your upcoming sponsor license renewal. So, don’t hesitate to reach out for guidance.