In November 2008, several UK companies applied for UK sponsor licenses according to the points-based system. As UK Sponsor licenses need to be renewed every four years, many UK employers need to start the renewal process now.
A UK company must hold a valid sponsor license to sponsor Tier 2 visas for non-EU nationals. If Tier 2 sponsors do not renew its licenses, those sponsors will be unable to sponsor new non-EU workers.
The Tier 2 Sponsor License Renewal Process
The UK Sponsor license can be renewed by using the online Sponsor Management System (SMS). The license renewal fee for most companies is £1,500, however smaller companies are required to pay a reduced renewal fee of £500.
It is important for a UK company to confirm that its license is up to date, in other words that the HR procedures are still in place when the initial license was granted.
The UK Border Agency (UKBA) usually sends renewal instructions via email to the UK company’s key HR contact up to four months prior to the license’s expiration date. The UK company’s Level 1 users can complete the renewal process.
The Level 1 user must be very careful when renewing the license through the SMS as perceivably small mistakes will result in a failed application to renew and therefore the license will be lost. Even inadvertent errors such as clicking the “Declining the option to renew the license” button while attempting to renew the license, will lead to failed application to renew.
UKBA’s projected processing times for renewal applications is 14 days from the receipt of the application for renewal. If a UK Sponsor’s license expires while the application is pending, the validity of its license will be temporarily extended. Tier 2 employees would be eligible to continue working during this period and the UK sponsor could continue issuing Certificates of Sponsorship for new non-EU workers.