How to renew sponsor licence - NEW 2021 Guide
A sponsor licence is issued to qualified UK employers for a
period of 4 years. With the licence, an organisation is authorised to hire
non-UK resident employees and also carry out certain responsibilities to ensure
utmost compliance in their recruitment and business operations in accordance
with the UK immigration and labour systems.
The licence must be renewed before its expiry date if the sponsor still wants to continue hiring immigrant
workers. As a licenced employer, you must request for your licence renewal by
paying the appropriate fee and submitting a renewal application on the
Sponsorship Management System (SMS). If your licence is due for renewal and you
are wondering how to go about it, this article gives you a complete guide on
the requirements and process for the renewal application.
When to Renew Your Sponsor Licence
You are required to renew your sponsor licences every four
years before the expiry date of the current one. You can submit the application
any time from 3 months before the expiry date. You can view your licence
expiration and the earliest date for renewal application in your sponsorship
management system (SMS) account.
The Home Office will send you a reminder to renew your
licence 120 calendar days prior to the expiry date. Other reminders should also
follow at 30-day intervals, and up to the very last month, before you will get
a final reminder two weeks to the scheduled expiry date. This is one of the
essences of keeping your contact information on the SMS up to date to ensure
the appropriate personnel will receive the reminders and do the needful at the
Steps to Renewing Your Sponsor Licence
To renew your sponsor licence, you will go to theSMS system and follow the instructions below.
Step 1: Go
to the Licence summary, application and
services screen, and then select Licence renewal.
Step 2: Once
you are on the Licence renewal
introduction screen, you will select the appropriate fee and then click
Next. (NOTE: If the next button is
not available (greyed out) that means you are not eligible to renew your
licence at this time. You should check the Licence summary screen to know when
you will be able to renew your licence).
Step 3: Once
you are on the Licence renewal
declaration screen, you will fill the boxes with the date, your name, and
your position in the company. After completing the information, you will select
Step 4: Now,
you will be taken to the Licence renewal
payment screen. Select OK and proceed with the transaction, using Worldpay
(the contracted third-party payment service for your renewal application
After completing the payment process, the Licence
renewal submission successful screen will be displayed. Here you will
select the Submission sheet.
Step 6: You
should print and save a copy of the submission fee for your own records. You do
not need to send it to the Home Office.
If you are able to complete step 1 to 6, that means your
renewal application has been successfully submitted and will be processed by
the Home Office. You can monitor the progress of the application using the
“Applications and renewals tracking” menu in SMS.
What You Need to Know Before Submitting Your Renewal
Before submitting your sponsor licence renewal
application, ensure that the details in your SMS account are up to date. If
there have been any changes in the information about your business, your key
management staff, and sponsored employees, ensure that the latest information reflects
on the system. This includes the contact details of your Authorizing Officer
and Level 1 and 2 users. Also, if you have added new sites, ensure that any new
sites are captured on the system before submitting your renewal application.
Documents Submission for Licence Renewal
Generally, licenced sponsors are not required to submit
documents during the renewal process. However, if there is a need to get
certain documentary evidence from you directly, UKVI will write you to request
for the specific information they need.
In this case, you must submit the required documents within
five working days. Failure to send the documents within the stipulated time
will attract action against you. This could lead to the suspension or
downgrading of your licence, which in any case, could mean that your licence
will not be renewed.
Sponsors Who Need to Provide New Documentary Evidence for
Your licence category, as well as the line of
business your company operate, may determine whether UKVI will request documentary
evidence from you during the renewal process.
If you are a Tier 2 (Sport) or Tier 5 (Creative and
Sporting) sponsor, you will be asked to provide a sport governing body
If you are a Tier 5 (International Agreement) sponsor
related to a consular or diplomatic mission or international organisation, you
may be asked to provide a signed letter from the head of the mission, the
consulate or the organisation’s office in the UK. The signed letter must
indicate that the authorising bodies:
· Agree to the licence renewal application
· Are willing t continue to sponsor the migrants under Tier 5
- (International Agreement)
Accept the sponsorship requirements
the Home Office express consent to enter their premises
the limited waiver of diplomatic privileges and immunity to allow the Home
Office to conduct any compliance activity as set out in the published guidance.
Renewal Application Fee
The renewal fee varies widely, depending on the size of your company. Large
or medium organisations pay a higher amount compared to small scale and
charitable organisations. Before submitting your application, you should know
the appropriate fee that applies to your business status and pay accordingly.
Paying an incorrect fee can lead to your application being refused.
Type Small or Charitable Sponsor Medium or Large sponsors
Tier 2 Skilled Worker £536 £1,476
Tier 5 £536 £536
Tier 2 & Tier 5 £536 £1,476
Based on Companies Act 2006, your organisation will be
categorised as a small company if it meets the following criteria:
· Its average number of employees NOT more than 50
· Has annual turnover that is NOT more than£10.2 million
balance sheet total is NOT more than£5.1 million.
If your organisation
does not meet the above descriptions, then you will have to pay the fees for a
medium or large company.
How Does UKVI Conduct Sponsor Licence Renewal?
When you submit your sponsor licence
renewal application, UKVI will check whether the application is valid or not.
This is called validation checks, and it is done to determine on what basis
should ab application be rejected or accepted.
Licence Renewal Validation Checks
UKVI officials will determine the
validity of an application by checking the following three factors:
Completion of Any
Outstanding Change Requests
Licence Status Check
During the status check, the UKV
official will find out if your licence is A-rated and active, B-rated,
or suspended. If the licence falls into any of these three categories,
then your application for renewal will be considered valid.
On the other hand, if the licence
shows to be dormant, revoked, or surrendered, then a further review will be
made to determine what led to the current status. For instance, in a
surrendered licence case, if the sponsor is subject to a takeover or merger,
the official will check further to determine if the case should be passed to
the post-licence team.
In general, however, a licence
renewal application will most likely be rejected if the licence has been made
dormant, or the status is surrendered or revoked.
Application Fee Check
Your renewal application will only
be considered valid if you have paid the appropriate fee. The fee will be
determined by certain factors which include tier and category of the licence,
the size of your company, and whether it has charitable status.
There is also a guideline in the
case of an incorrect fee. If you have overpaid, the official will refund your
balance and continue with the casework. But if you have underpaid, your renewal
application will be rejected.
Outstanding Change Requests Check
UKVI conducts this to determine
whether you have outstanding change requests that need to be resolved.
Other Factors to Consider
UKVI also check to determine whether
operating legally in the UK
still qualifies to be a licenced sponsor
all it takes to carry out their duties to the level expected
To determine whether your company is
operating legally in the UK, UKVI will check theCompanies House website for the necessary information. If
they cannot find the needed information on the Companies House Website, they
may contact you to provide the information needed.
To determine if you are still
suitable to be a licenced sponsor, UKVI officials will evaluate your
immigration history and review all cases of Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS)
that have been assigned by your company. They may also request more details
regarding your company’s needs for a sponsor licence and how you have used the
licence in the past.
If their findings show that there
may be a potential risk if the renewal application is approved, they may
provisionally extend the licence pending when a compliance visit will be made
to your business location. One of the major factors that pose the highest risk
is if you have had a migrant sponsorship application rejected on the basis of
non-genuine vacancy. This will most likely warrant a compliance visit.
UKVI Compliance Visit for Sponsor Licence Renewal
If the officials deem it fit to pay
a visit to your business location, a compliance team will be sent. During the
visit, they will carry out various checks to determine whether your renewal
application should be approved or not.
The officials may evaluate the
situation on grounds to determine whether you have been complying with your
sponsor management duties and still meet the requirements to continue
complying.They may also decide to interview
your sponsored migrant staff to determine whether they have been performing the
exact tasks for which they were hired during recruitment.
This is why it is best to put your
company in order before submitting a request for renewal. Make sure all
immigration and recruitment documents are up to date and are accessible to the
UKVI officials during their visit. If the compliance officer is unable to or
restricted from accessing necessary information at the visit, there may be consequences
which will not only affect your chances of renewal approval but may also affect
your chances of being able to sponsor migrant workers in the future.
Why You Must Renew Your Sponsor Licence Before Expiry Date
Failure to renew your application before its expiration
attracts certain consequences which will affect both your business and migrant
sponsored employees. According to the UKVI, failure to renew before the expiry
date can lead to any of the following scenarios:
· If you fail to respond to the invitation to renew your
licence before the scheduled expiry date, the existing licence will expire on
the scheduled date for expiry, and you will no longer be eligible to act as a
licenced sponsor from that date.
· If you fail to renew your licence and you still have
sponsored migrant employees after the expiry date, management information (MI)
report will be issued to notify the migrant casework teams to curtail their
· In the event that you
do not wish to renew your licence (probably because you no longer have
sponsored migrants and will not need the licence in the future, it is best to
do so officially. To do this, you will use your SMS account to decline renewal.
This will lead to the automatic expiration of the licence on the scheduled
expiry date, and you will no longer be eligible to act as a licenced sponsor.
In addition to the above scenarios, applying early will also
give you enough time to prepare in case an unforeseen situation arises. For
example, if your renewal application is refused, you will be able to prepare
for a new licence application before the expiry of the current one. This will
prevent subjecting your sponsored migrant workers from being flagged for unlawful
presence and employment in the UK. Keep in mind that it is a violation of the
UK immigration law to keep having sponsored migrant worker in your workforce if
you (the employer) don’t have a valid sponsor licence.
Common Grounds for Sponsor Licence Renewal Application
The Home Office puts employers under more serious scrutiny
during the renewal than the initial licence application process. This is
because they want to be sure that in the past four years of holding the
licence, the employer has performed up to the standard and has not in any way,
abuse the process. In addition, they will also want to ensure that the employer
still has the requirements to continue performing their expected management roles.
Unfortunately, not all employers will pass this litmus test, and this may lead
to some renewal application being refused. It is best to pay attention to those
potential pitfalls and avoid them. Some of the reasons for refusal of sponsor
licence refusal by UKVI include:
· Non-compliance with your sponsor licence responsibilities
· Not promptly reporting changes in your company and workforce
· Failure to keep records up to date
· Not responding to UKVI enquiries in due time.
· Not following due process in offering employment to migrant
workers, especially the vacancy advertisement requirements.
· Carrying out incorrect Resident Labour Market Tests or not
keeping adequate records of the tests.
· Paying an incorrect renewal application fee
Consequences for the above scenarios may be beyond the
refusal of your renewal application. It could lead to downgrading, revocation
or suspension of your sponsor licence. The punishment may come in the form of
civil penalties, fines, or criminal charges – in the worst-case scenario. This
is why the importance of complying to all the Home Office requirements cannot
Sponsor Licence Renewal FAQs
my renewal application be granted if I have received a civil penalty?
The Home Office does not expressly
state the specific punishment for a civil penalty. But it clearly states that if
you have been issued a civil penalty for employing illegal employees, your
licence may be suspended and any application for a new licence may be refused.
So, reading between the lines, you should expect more stringent scrutiny
compared to other applicants without a civil penalty. There is a high chance of
having a UKVI compliance team visit your business site as part of the process
to scrutinise your application.
afraid I have not performed my sponsor management roles up to the required
standards. What can I do to avert renewal application refusal?
If you have not been up and doing in
your management roles, the good news is you can still make amendments before
you submit a renewal application. Go through all the records of the immigrant
workers you have sponsored since the issuance of your licence, ensure the records
are up to date, and there is no potential risk for violation of the immigration
law. Also, go through the details of your key allocated staff managing the SMS
and ensure that the information you earlier gave submitted about them is still
valid. If there have been any changes since then, make sure you update the SMS
to reflect those changes. In essence, just ensure you tighten all the loose
ends before sending your renewal application to the Home Office. And the best
time to start all these preparations is six months to the expiry date of the
I fail to renew my licence before the expiry date, does UKVI offer a grace
According to UKVI, failure to
respond to the invitations to renew your licence before its expiry date means
you are no longer eligible to act as a licenced sponsor from the scheduled date
of the expiry. However, you may still be able to submit an urgent application
to the Home Office. But in such a case, your chances of getting the application
honoured is quite slim, and you should expect much a much costlier and
So, given the importance of the
licence to your business operation and the number of notifications from UKVI,
it is best not to wait for any grace period, but rather do the needful at the
appropriate time. There have been cases of employers not knowing about their
licence expiry until much later probably when one of their employees request a
further leave to remain. This can happen when employers don’t update their
contact details on the SMS and aren’t getting important notifications from the Home
Office. If you find yourself in such a situation, you might need to seek legal
advice to know your best bet between an urgent renewal application or applying
for a new licence entirely.
will my expired sponsor licence affect my sponsored migrant employees?
An expired licence will not only
affect your chances of sponsoring prospective workers; it will also affect your
existing sponsored migrant workforce in a number of ways.
Firstly, once you are no longer
eligible to act as a licenced sponsor, your migrant workers will have 60 days
to (or up to the expiry date of their visa if earlier) to leave your
organisation to get another licenced employer who will sponsor them for a new
visa application. If they cannot get a new sponsor within the 60-day period, then
they will have to leave the UK.
Secondly, your sponsored employees
could face legal action, including detention. For example, there have been
cases of imigrant workers being detained for violating their immigration status
after making attempts to reenter the UK, not knowing that their employer's
licence has expired.So, an expired licence can cause
your personnel and business so much stress and embarrassments that are
avoidable in the first place.