Common problems for sponsor licence holders and how to avoid them
In this post we focus on three problems for sponsor licence holders that we see in practice and how to deal with them when they arise. We also suggest easy steps you can take to reduce the risk of them happening in the first place.
Problem One- The only level one user has left the business
This happens quite often. It is fairly straightforward to resolve, if you do it correctly.
You must not use the previous level one user’s login to access the sponsorship management system (SMS). It is not a Netflix account. The Home Office run security checks on all key personnel before they grant them access. This includes running details on the police national computer and against any intelligence files that they hold. This is why the Home Office take sharing of a login very seriously. It is one of the most common issues that we see leading to licence revocation.
You can request a new level one login by submitting a sponsor change of circumstances form .
Once you get a new login, the new level one user should request a second person be added to the system as a level one user with their own login. This means that you should always have at least one person with access to the SMS.
You can also nominate an external legal representative on your licence and request a level one log in for them.
Problem Two- Reports not made in time
There are a number of events that you must report. Not reporting them on time can be a problem for sponsor licence holders. Some of these are obvious, for example you must report if the worker stops working for you. Others are less obvious, for example if you are involved in a merger or takeover.
It is a good idea to seek advice in this situation. In all cases, you will need to make the report late, and make it urgently. Often that is all that you need to do.
However, in other cases there may be more complex issues that you need to understand. For example, if you are involved in a merger or takeover, you may have to apply for a whole new licence. If an employee has had a significant change in duties, they might have to apply for a whole new visa.
It is also sensible to do a full review of the SMS to make sure that you have identified all of the reports required. If you do receive a compliance visit, you want to be confident that the SMS is up to date.
Problem Three- You forgot to renew your sponsor licence
A sponsor licence lasts for four years. If you are sponsoring a worker, they need to spend five years in the UK as a skilled worker in order to settle permanently in the UK, so you will need to extend your licence.
The renewals are often missed because the key contact or authorising officer has left the business, or because the reminder emails go into a ‘junk’ folder.
If you don’t renew the sponsor licence, then your existing workers will usually have their visa curtailed to 60 days. If you want to continue to sponsor them, you must make a new application for a licence urgently. If the new licence is granted, you will have to re-issue a certificate of sponsorship to the worker and they will have to apply for a new visa.
They cannot continue working for you while you are without a sponsor licence.
There are also steps that you can take to try to avoid this happening.
Firstly, diarise the renewal date in a central calendar rather than in an individual’s calendar.
Secondly, have different people named as the key contact and authorising officer. This reduces the risk that one person will leave the business, or be on leave, and therefore miss the reminders. The most common reason for the renewal being missed is because the key personnel have not been kept up to date.
Thirdly, level one users should log into the SMS once per month. The Home Office put general messages on the SMS from time to time, and these can be important. It also means that you check the basic information on a regular basis and you are therefore more likely to notice if the renewal date is coming up or if the key personnel need updating.
The Home Office don’t make sponsor compliance easy. If something does go wrong, it is important to address it in a timely way rather than hoping nothing will come of it.