Home Office issues communications to sponsors about licence renewals
13 August 2020
The Home Office has now started to make early contact with sponsors whose licences are due to expire up until the end of the year. These sponsors will be able to apply to renew their licences earlier than the usual maximum 90 days before expiry.
This should help them avoid delays at the end of the year when thousands of licences are up for renewal at the same time as the end of free movement kicks in. Sponsors should also take this opportunity to consider the scope of the sponsor licences they will need under the new immigration system from 1 January next year.
Sponsors will benefit from an automatic four-year extension while the Home Office considers their application. This will be reversed if the sponsor’s application is rejected due to paying the wrong fee. It is therefore advisable to make the application as early as possible so that if the application is rejected, it can be resubmitted with the correct fee before the licence expires.
The Home Office has stated it will aim to review renewals within ten working days of the application being submitted, however consideration may take longer if further information is required or any issues are identified in the course of the initial assessment. When assessing the renewal application, the Home Office review activity on the licence to check for any compliance concerns. Accordingly, we would always recommend conducting a mock audit before submission to be confident of the sponsor’s audit readiness.
For applications where no further action is required, the outcome of the renewal will be communicated to sponsors’ level 1 users via the sponsor management system screen headed ‘Applications and renewals tracking’.
Now that the Home Office has confirmed the broad details of the new immigration system from 1 January 2021, sponsors should take the opportunity to review existing licence details and apply for any additional licences to sponsor non-British (including EEA) migrants from the beginning of next year. One area to consider is whether an existing Intra-Company Transfer licence will need to be updated in order to transfer staff from group businesses located in Europe, or if a new licence will be required. Another issue to review is whether certificate of sponsorship allocations need to be revised to take into account EEA nationals as well as Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) migrants who may wish to switch into the new Skilled Worker category.
The Home Office has also announced to sponsors via the sponsor management system that in person compliance audits will shortly be resuming. The Home Office will comply with advice from Public Health England concerning wearing personal protective equipment and practising social distancing. Compliance officers will also observe additional COVID-19 safety measures individual sponsors have in place.
If you have any queries about these developments or need assistance with an application or mock audit, please get in touch with a member of our immigration team.