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Sponsor Licences – An unexpected renewal change

In an unexpected update from the Home Office, they have announced that from 6 April 2024 sponsor licences will no longer need to be renewed every four years

As the majority of sponsor licence holders will be aware, sponsor licences are currently valid for four years. At the end of the four year period, sponsors have to make a formal renewal application (and pay a further fee). Assuming the renewal is successful, sponsors are granted a licence that lasts for a further four years.

The new rules will mean that any businesses whose licences are due to expire on or after 6 April 2024, will automatically be given a 10 year validity (whilst the Home Office implements the complete removal of expiry dates).

Unfortunately, businesses whose sponsor licences expire before 6 April 2024 will be required to renew their licence in the usual way.

This will come as a welcome development for sponsors as it means they can avoid the formal renewal process and save the costs of a further licence fee.

However, many commentators have suggested that Home Office case workers will now focus their efforts on increased compliance enforcement activity with more frequent audits and inspections of sponsor licence holders.

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All registered sponsors are subject to comprehensive compliance duties, particularly in relation to recordkeeping and reporting in respect of their sponsored migrant workers. If a sponsor fails to comply with their duties, this can have very serious and draconian consequences. For example, the business can be subject to significant fines where illegal working is involved; the penalties for employing an illegal worker have recently risen from £20,000 to £60,000 per worker. The business may also have its sponsor licence suspended or even revoked. Where the sponsor licence is revoked, the business will not be able to sponsor any further migrant workers, and any existing sponsored workers will typically have their permission to be in the UK cut short to 60 days, during which time they will either need to find another employer to sponsor them or leave the UK.

If the removal of the licence renewal process does indeed herald an increased emphasis on compliance, businesses would be well advised to take immediate steps to make sure they have met all of their obligations.

We support clients with all aspects of their immigration compliance; advising on what they need to do, helping them make sure that their internal procedures and practices meet the requirements, and ensuring that key staff are trained and upskilled on the rules. We also undertake mock audits for clients focussing on compliance to help give you peace of mind that everything is in order.

If you need any support or advice relating to sponsor licenses, please do get in touch with Laura Darnley or another of our expert Immigration Solicitors.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

This page may contain links that direct you to third party websites. We have no control over and are not responsible for the content, use by you or availability of those third party websites, for any products or services you buy through those sites or for the treatment of any personal information you provide to the third party.

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