The requirement for UK sponsors to renew their sponsor licence every four years is being abolished from April 2024, under new Home Office rules confirmed today.
UK sponsor licences due to expire on or after 6 April 2024 are now being automatically extended by 10 years.
Licences that are automatically extended will not end unless the licence is revoked by the Home Office or the organisation surrenders their licence.
The changes are being introduced with the aim of streamlining the sponsor licence management process and saving time and resources for employers.
No more sponsor licence renewals from April 2024
In light of the new rules, the UK Home Office confirmed on 24 January 2024 through the SMS that those sponsor licences expiring on or after 6 April 2024 have been automatically extended for 10 years from the original licence end date.
To illustrate, as an example, a sponsor licence due to expire on 1 June 2026 will now expire on 1 June 2036.
Sponsor licence holders should check their licence summary page on their SMS to confirm that the extension, if applicable, has been applied.
What do the new rules mean for your sponsor licence?
Sponsor licences due to expire on or after 6 April 2024
Sponsor licence holders do not need to take action for the extension to apply if your licence expires on or after 6 April 2024. The new expiry date will be viewable on the licence summary page on the SMS.
If you have already received a renewal notice for your licence, you can ignore it.
If you have already made a renewal application for your sponsor licence, the licence will be updated automatically with the extension and the Home Office will contact you to arrange to refund the renewal fee.
Sponsor licences expiring between 25 January 2024 and 6 April 2024
Licences that will expire prior to 6 April 2024 continue to be subject to the existing requirements. Sponsor licence holders will still need to apply for an extension and pay for their licence renewal.
If you intend to allow your sponsor licence to expire
If you no longer require a sponsor licence and planned to allow your sponsor licence to expire on its expiry date, you will now need to actively surrender the licence by notifying the Home Office.
The development will come as welcome news for sponsor licence holders, who will no longer be subject to the four-year renewal cycle of applications, documents and fees, allowing resources and time to be redirected to other business activities.
Importantly, a ten-year licence validity will also provide a degree of certainty and allow for longer-term strategic workforce planning with the assurance of having a sponsor licence in place.
While the new renewal rule will allow employers to place greater focus on growth and attracting talent without the licence extension hurdle, vigilance in maintaining compliance remains critical to mitigate risk. Sponsors licence holders remain subject to compliance duties and the Home Office retains its enforcement rights in response to breaches, including the right to suspend and revoke licences. Employers must continue to ensure their immigration practices are lawful and compliant, to avoid disruption to their permission to sponsor workers.
If you have any queries or concerns about how the new rules affect your licence and compliance practices, contact us.
Last updated: 24 January 2024