Sponsor Licence – Don’t Be Complacent About Compliance

Sponsor Licence

As reported in the (short) good news section of our February newsletter, the Home Office announced that from 6 April 2024 onwards, a sponsor licence will no longer expire. 

While this is being rolled out, sponsors have been given a 10-year licence validity period. Previously, sponsor licences were valid for four years only. Companies had both to pay a renewal fee and were often subject to an audit before being granted an extension of their licence, so the removal of this requirement is very welcome news. 

However, it is important not to be complacent about your ongoing sponsor duties and responsibilities; not least because we believe the Home Office may well now conduct more frequent licence audits given (i) the extra time on caseworkers’ hands and (ii) perceived increased need for audits as a result of the removal of the renewal process.  

The discipline of having to renew a sponsor licence every four years helped sponsors to check that they were complying with their sponsor duties e.g. that their HR systems were in order and that their key personnel were up to date.  Now that there is no longer a requirement to renew your licence, there is the obvious potential to let things slip.

Here follow a few simple tips for ensuring you are compliant with your sponsor duties on an ongoing basis and for avoiding any problems, should your business be audited. Please remember that Home Office audits can be announced or unannounced so we recommend that regular checks are undertaken:

1. Key Personnel on your Sponsor licence
2. Record Keeping

* https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/keep-records-for-sponsorship-appendix-d

** https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/right-to-work-checks-employers-guide

3. Reporting Duties

Risks of non-compliance

As mentioned in our February newsletter, the civil penalties for employing illegal workers have increased threefold to £45,000 for a first offence, and up to £60,000 for repeat breaches. Performing a valid right to work check continues to provide employers with a strong defence to this.

The ultimate sanction for any non-compliance with your sponsor licence duties is revocation of your licence and the curtailment of sponsored employees’ visas. Clearly this would not only be inconvenient but also a matter of public record and could severely impact your business’s operations in the UK.

To avoid such situations, it is essential that UK sponsors are familiar with both their duties and responsibilities as a UK sponsor and how to navigate the (sometimes complicated) sponsorship management system. To assist with this, we can provide you with a user-friendly guide on UK sponsorship which includes guidance on how to manage Home Office audits.

Whatever your priorities, our immigration team can advise you on managing your sponsor licence and navigating Home Office audits. Get in touch with our specialist team to talk through your requirements.

Alice Boyle

Alice Boyle is a solicitor with extensive experience in all areas of immigration law. She qualified in 2000 at Norton Rose and has specialised in immigration since 2003.

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