From the 6th of April 2024, sponsors will no longer be required to renew their sponsor licences.
Currently, licences must be renewed (and fees paid) every 4 years. If a licence was not renewed, the sponsor will not be able to employ any sponsored employees, and existing sponsored employees would have their visas cut short to 60 days.
The renewal process is not particularly onerous, and it involves a Level 1 user logging into the system, making the renewal application and paying the renewal fee. This is currently £536 for small or charitable organisations, and £1,476 for medium or large organisations. The Home Office will conduct checks on the business and request any documents it thinks necessary to process the renewal application. These usually include the documents that the sponsor will have had to provide for their initial licence application but could include other documents as the Home Office see fit. Any documents must be sent to the Home Office within 5 working days, otherwise the existing licence could be revoked. Also, the Home Office may decide to do a compliance visit before granting the renewal request.
From the 6th of April 2024, any licences that are due to expire after this date will be automatically extended for 10 years and this will be confirmed in the ‘view your licence’ page of the online sponsor management system.
Any licences that are due to expire before this date must be renewed in the normal way. The Home Office has also confirmed that there will be no fee refunds for sponsors who are obliged to make a renewal application.
This announcement is at odds with recent immigration news, where sponsor related fees are generally being increased rather than removed. It is also unfortunate news for those with licences that will expire just before the 6th of April 2024 cut off date.
For most sponsors this will be welcome news, particularly as a renewal application can often be a trigger for a compliance visit. Sponsors should still make sure they are compliant with their reporting, recording keeping and general sponsor duties at all times as compliance visits can still take place outside the renewal process, at any time (and without warning). For more information on ensuring compliance with your sponsor duties, contact our immigration team for details of our mock Home Office audits.