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The Ultimate Guide to UK Sponsor Licence Renewal

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By Sanwar Ali:

A sponsor licence is a critical tool for businesses in the UK that wish to employ skilled workers on a Skilled Worker Visa from overseas. It needs to be renewed every four years.  Ensuring that your sponsor licence is renewed in a timely and efficient manner is vital for the continued success of your company and the well-being of your foreign employees. In this guide, we will provide you with detailed information to help you navigate the sponsor licence renewal process.

Table of Contents

  1. Understanding the Sponsor Licence
  2. When to Renew Your Sponsor Licence
  3. Preparing for the Renewal Process
  4. Submitting the Renewal Application
  5. Renewal Fees and Payment
  6. After Submitting Your Renewal Application
  7. Common Reasons for Renewal Refusals
  8. What to Do If Your Renewal Is Denied
  9. Maintaining Compliance After Renewal
  10. Alternative Immigration Routes

Understanding the Sponsor Licence

A sponsor licence allows UK businesses to employ non-UK skilled workers, granting them a skilled worker visa to work in the country. It is a critical component for businesses that rely on the unique talents of foreign professionals to address skills shortages in their industry.

There are various types of sponsor licences, including:

  • Skilled worker visa; formerly Tier 2 visa
  • UK Expansion Worker Visa for businesses looking to expand their operations in the UK
  • Service Supplier Visa for companies providing services in the UK
  • Secondment Worker Visa for employees on temporary assignment in the UK
  • Temporary Work Visa for short-term employment opportunities

Each licence type has specific requirements, which must be met to ensure continued compliance with UK immigration laws.

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When to Renew Your Sponsor Licence

Your sponsor licence is valid for 4 years. It is essential to start the renewal process well in advance of its expiration to avoid potential disruptions to your business and employees. The earliest you can apply for renewal is 3 months before the licence expires.

Failing to renew your licence in time can lead to the loss of your ability to sponsor foreign workers and jeopardise the immigration status of any existing employees on a sponsored visa.

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Preparing for the Renewal Process

Before applying for your sponsor licence renewal, it's crucial to ensure that all information in the Sponsor Management System (SMS) is accurate and up-to-date. This includes:

  • Contact details for the Authorising Officer and Level 1/2 Users
  • Updates to company sites and locations
  • Employee information, including any changes to their job roles, salaries, or visa status

By maintaining accurate records in the SMS, you reduce the risk of having your renewal application refused due to outdated or incorrect information.

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Submitting the Renewal Application

To request a sponsor licence renewal, you must submit an application through the sponsor management system (SMS). To do this, the level 1 user logs into the SMS account, navigate to the licence renewal section, and complete the required form. Ensure that all information on the sponsor management system is accurate and up-to-date, as any discrepancies may result in delays or refusals.

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Renewal Fees and Payment

The fee for renewing your sponsor licence will depend on the size of your company. Small businesses and charitable sponsors, and applicants for certain sponsor licence categories can expect to pay the lower fee of £536, compared to medium or large businesses that pay £1,476.

When submitting your renewal application, you will be required to pay the appropriate fee electronically through the SMS.

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After Submitting Your Renewal Application

Once your renewal application and fee have been submitted to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), you will receive a submission sheet generated by the SMS. This sheet should be completed, signed, and sent to the Sponsor Licensing Unit for processing.

UKVI will then assess your application and may request further information or conduct a compliance visit to ensure your business is adhering to all sponsor licence requirements. It's essential to cooperate fully with any requests to avoid delays or refusals.

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Common Reasons for Renewal Refusals

The most common reasons for sponsor licence renewal refusals include:

  • Inaccurate or outdated information in the SMS
  • Failure to pay the appropriate renewal fee
  • Non-compliance with sponsor licence duties and responsibilities
  • A history of non-compliance or previous refusals

By maintaining accurate records, staying compliant with your sponsor licence duties, and submitting a complete and accurate renewal application, you can minimise the risk of refusal.

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What to Do If Your Renewal Is Denied

If your sponsor licence renewal is refused, it's crucial to act quickly to protect your business and employees. Depending on the reasons for refusal, you may be able to address the issues and reapply for renewal. In some cases, however, you may need to explore alternative immigration routes or consider employing UK-based workers.

If the overseas worker has been in the UK for five years, then you may be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.

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Maintaining Compliance After Renewal

Once your sponsor licence is renewed, it's essential to continue following all compliance requirements to avoid future issues. This includes:

  • Reporting any changes in employee information or company details
  • Ensuring that all sponsored employees meet the salary threshold and other visa requirements
  • Regularly updating the SMS with accurate information

By staying vigilant and proactive, you can ensure the ongoing success of your business and its foreign employees.

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Alternative Immigration Routes

If your sponsor licence renewal is denied or you decide not to renew, there are other immigration routes available for businesses and foreign workers. Some popular options include:

  • Global Talent Visa for individuals with exceptional talent or promise in specific sectors
  • UK Ancestry Visa for Commonwealth citizens with a grandparent born in the UK

By exploring these alternatives, you can continue to grow your business and attract top talent from around the world.

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How Can Help with Sponsor Licences

If you need help with employing Skilled Workers and help to apply for a Sponsor Licence, including complying with your Sponsor Licence obligations, can help.

For more information and advice, please contact us on 0344 991 9222 or at