Sponsor Licence Renewal

Through the sponsor licence renewal process, your organisation will be opened up to Home Office scrutiny.

Safeguard your permission to sponsor migrant workers.

Sponsor licence renewal

Sponsorship licences are granted for four-year periods. To maintain your licence beyond its validity, you must make a sponsor licence renewal application to the Home office.

A refused renewal can bring serious consequences for businesses, removing the organisation’s permission to employ sponsored workers.

It has become increasingly clear that renewals attract greater Home Office attention and scrutiny than the initial licence application.

Immigration enforcement officials take this opportunity to fully investigate an organisation’s immigration compliance processes, procedures and documentation and to verify the lawful status of the organisation’s migrant workers.

We can help

DavidsonMorris’ team of specialist UK immigration lawyers provide clients with a complete employer sponsorship licence renewal application service.

We bring substantial experience both as lawyers and former Home Office personnel, supporting your organisation in taking a proactive approach to the renewal process. We understand the importance of the licence to business operations and the commercial imperative to avoid issues with the Home Office.

We can work in support of your in-house HR team or manage the entire process on your behalf to ensure that licence management to date has been compliant and that the application for renewal is accurate, timely and effective.

As part of the sponsor licence renewal process, the UKVI reserves a right to undertake compliance visit to sponsor companies and request corporate documentation as deemed necessary. We will support with renewal preparation to ensure the organisation is match-fit for a site visit.

We can assist with:

  • Auditing your HR systems, procedures and records including COS and SMS, to identify areas of risk and non-compliance
  • Making recommendations to meet sponsor licence duties
  • Implementing necessary changes to your sponsor licence before an extension application is submitted
    Guidance on notification, monitoring and record-keeping duties
  • Deliver training for in-house teams including SMS key personnel
  • Preparation for site visits
  • Follow up support following site visits
  • Ongoing immigration and sponsor licence compliance advice

Our team of UK immigration specialists is well versed in all the document and evidentiary requirements that can be vital to a prompt and successful renewal application. 

UKVI advises that renewal applications can be submitted at least three months prior to the current licence expiry date. But given what is at stake, we advise starting to prepare for the renewal process well in advance, to identify and deal with any issues and ensure continued coverage and validity of the licence.

We also have specialist expertise in complex renewal applications, for example where the employer has received a civil penalty for illegal working, where the expiry date is imminent or where the sponsor licence has expired but the sponsor wishes to retain their licence.

In such cases we can advise on the options open to you, including any remedial measures that should be taken, how best to approach dealings with the Home Office and the information and evidence that will be required, and whether a new licence application may be necessary in the circumstances.

Sponsor licence renewal: employer considerations

The licence expiry date and the date from which you can apply to renew can both be found on your Sponsor Management System (SMS) summary page. In most cases, sponsor licences can be renewed up to three months prior to the licence expiry. 

From experience, we advise diarising to look at the renewal six months in advance of the expiry date. This will give you time to carry out a full audit and identify areas of risk and potential non-compliance to be rectified before opening the organisation up to Home Office scrutiny. 

Being prepared and submitting your application as soon as the window opens also means that if there are any issues, delays or a refusal, there is likely to be time to address the problems before the licence expires. 

The process of renewing involves applying via the SMS and requires a nominated Level 1 User to pay the appropriate fee and complete a sponsor declaration.

Importantly, you should first ensure you pay the correct fee. The rate differs by the size of organisation and you should check your classification as at the date of renewal application as this may have changed in the four years since making the previous licence application.  

Once the renewal application is received the Home Office will start the process of verifying that the organisation continues to operate legally in the UK, is still suitable to be a licensed sponsor and able to meet its duties at the level expected.

This involves cross-referencing data held by other bodies such as Companies House. In some cases, the Home Office may send an information request to the sponsor. If you receive a request for information, you must provide the relevant documents to the Home Office within 5 days of the request, or it is likely the renewal will be refused.

As part of the renewal application process, all assigned certificates of sponsorship will be reviewed, as well as the organisation’s continued need for a sponsor licence. 

Compliance visits are also increasingly common for renewal applications. The Home Office uses this opportunity to investigate the organisation’s HR and recruitment policies, procedures and documentation to verify compliance with licence duties. They can also interview migrant workers to cross-reference information on the certificate of sponsorship relating for example to salary, working hours, working locations and duties.

As licence renewals are rarely straight forward, sponsors should ensure they take proactive steps to avoid common grounds for refused renewals. 

These include failure to retain and keep the required documentation on sponsored workers, failure to have advised UKVI of significant changes to company structure and personnel, failure to respond to UKVI’s enquiries in a timely manner, failure to have passed the genuineness test, failure to comply with UKVI security standards and failing to pass the UKVI compliance audit and site visit.

For help and advice with your sponsor licence renewal application, please contact us.

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