Many institutions have a number of campuses or branches. Such groups will either have a single sponsor licence for all their branches, a separate licence for each branch or several licences for various groups of their branches. These different approaches have each thrown up their own issues in relation to compliance matters.

For those with a single licence for all their branches, a compliance failure or shortfall by any branch could give rise to the refusal of HTS status and may put their entire business in jeopardy. An urgent analysis and review of their policy in respect of their sponsor licence should be carried out to assess their vulnerability.

If those with a separate licence for each branch or group of branches have compliance failures in a branch (or the refusal of HTS status) they may have solutions by means of 'complete takeovers and mergers' or 'partial takeovers and demergers'. Depending on their business/corporate structure they may also be able to pursue solutions involving the establishment of additional branches (in the corporate sense) by those holding HTS status. However, these solutions involve challenging issues of timing and have also thrown up some difficult issues as to 'ownership' of an undecided HTS application.

It is essential to take legal advice on these restructurings to ensure that they are implemented in a way that complies with sponsor licence guidance and is at the same time as consistent as possible with existing corporate structures and business models.

Through its special understanding of corporate structures, Penningtons' immigration team has advised a number of clients on such solutions which have helped them preserve businesses.