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Business Immigration Help if Your Sponsor Licence has Expired

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Our immigration solicitors are getting increasing numbers of calls and enquiries from businesses who have let their sponsor licence lapse, often inadvertently because of work concerns and fire-fighting to get the business overheads under control due to inflation-related economic pressures or simply because the firm only sponsors one or two employees and the 4-year sponsor licence expiry date was missed by the key personnel.

In this article, our Sponsorship Licence lawyers look at what can be done to help if your sponsor licence has expired.

UK Online and London-Based Immigration Solicitors and Sponsorship Licence Lawyers

For sponsor licence advice call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

Can you apply to renew a sponsor licence after it has elapsed?

You cannot apply to renew a sponsor licence after it has elapsed. The immigration rules are clear that there is no grace period for those businesses that have missed their sponsor licence renewal deadline, even if for only a few days.

That may seem a tough stance for the Home Office to take but they offer no leeway. That is the case even if you think your business deserves a bit of latitude and discretion. For example, if the Home Office emails about licence renewal ended up in a junk email folder or if your authorising officer has been away on maternity or sick leave and things have been missed as you were not able to organise proper cover during their absence.

Sponsorship Licence lawyers stress that no matter how brilliant your business immigration lawyers are if you have missed the sponsor licence renewal deadline you cannot apply to renew your licence. That’s because under the immigration rules the licence isn’t capable of renewal as it no longer exists.

There are solutions if your business has allowed its sponsor licence to end either as a result of an error or because you mistakenly thought that you would not need a sponsor licence in 2023 because your business assumed that it would be able to cope without employing sponsored workers.

Consequences for sponsored employees of employers not renewing their sponsor licence

Some sponsor licence holders assume that if their sponsor licence lapses then they can continue to employ their existing sponsored workers even though they can't continue to recruit new employees on skilled worker visas. That isn’t correct as sponsor licence expiry means all sponsored employees can no longer continue in employment.

For your sponsored workers the sponsor licence expiry means they have 3 options:

  1. Leave the UK
  2. Switch to a new visa where they don’t need a sponsor
  3. Find a new job with a sponsoring employer who has a sponsor licence and who can sponsor their employment

The sponsor licence expiry triggers the curtailment of all the business’s sponsored employees. Curtailment gives a sponsored employee 60 days to get a new job, switch visas or leave the UK. The 60-day time period is less if the worker has less than 60 days left on their visa.

Sponsor licence expiry doesn’t just affect sponsored employees but also their families who are in the UK on dependant visas. As their visa is contingent on a sponsor they too have to uproot as they can't stay in the UK unless their sponsor has a right to live and work in the UK.

Visa curtailment can make sponsored employees very unhappy because of the uncertainty it creates for them as well as the potential upheaval for their families. A sponsored employee may have employment law claims if an employer has ended an employment contract early or the overseas worker can claim salary even though they cannot work during their notice period because the business no longer has a sponsor licence to sponsor them.

The business consequences of not renewing a sponsor licence

In addition to sponsored employees being very unhappy about their visa curtailment the ending of a sponsor licence may have other unforeseen consequences:

  • Highly skilled sponsored workers may get jobs with competitors as the firm cannot put sponsored workers on garden leave whilst they sort out the renewal of their sponsor licence
  • If a sponsored employee is overseas (either on holiday or on work-related business) they won't be able to re-enter the UK if border officials check their entry clearance and discover their employer no longer holds a sponsor licence
  • The departure of sponsored workers may make other staff unsettled
  • Contracts may not be capable of being completed or finished on time if a business isn’t able to quickly replace sponsored workers who have had their visas curtailed
  • If a business continues the employment of sponsored workers after its sponsor licence has ended it could face civil fines or criminal prosecution because the sponsored employees no longer have the right to work in the UK as their work visa requires them to have sponsorship to be able to work
  • Breaching right-to-work rule checks and not complying with illegal working legislation will result in the refusal of a new sponsor licence application
  • Applying for a quick Home Office decision on a sponsor licence application costs more in Home Office priority fees than a standard application. Priority fees may not have been necessary if the renewal application had been submitted before the expiry date

Help if your sponsor licence has expired

If your sponsor licence has expired you need urgent help from experienced Sponsorship Licence lawyers who can quickly work on a new sponsor licence application and advise you on the best ways to fast-track it.

At OTS Solicitors, our business immigration lawyers have substantial experience in start-ups and SMEs forgetting to make sponsor licence renewal applications and our immigration lawyers needing to step in, sometimes days or hours before the expiry deadline, but often after the licence has expired.

The one thing our Sponsorship Licence lawyers emphasise is don’t risk operating without a valid sponsor licence and continuing to allow sponsored workers to come into work because your business not only risks civil fines and criminal prosecution but also not being able to secure another sponsor licence.

 Sponsor licence management

Whilst OTS Solicitors has the expertise to step in and sort out late sponsor licence renewal applications or fresh licence applications if a licence has already expired, we prefer to avoid the situation arising in the first place by offering a hands-on sponsor licence management service.

For a fixed price monthly retainer our Sponsorship Licence lawyers can help you manage your sponsor licence by ensuring you are aware of key dates ( such as the sponsor licence expiry date) and working with your admin or HR staff to manage your sponsor licence reporting and recording duties.

We also proactively manage the sponsor licence so that when the renewal date comes up the process of applying for the renewal isn’t a massive challenge as we will have already reviewed your systems and conducted a mock Home Office audit to ensure that your sponsor licence renewal application does not encounter any problems.

The head of the OTS Solicitors business immigration team, Hans Sok Appadu, is often asked by small companies whether sponsor licence management fees can be justified in times when businesses are struggling financially or where a company only employs one or two sponsored workers. Hans Sok Appadu says:

‘’ The cost of paying for specialist Sponsorship Licence lawyers to manage your sponsor licence is surprisingly modest, especially when you compare the cost of employing extra staff to manage the sponsor licence for your business or when you cost out the consequences to your business of allowing your sponsor licence to lapse or if you risk its suspension or revocation by not following the sponsor licence rules to the letter because you either didn’t fully understand the sponsor licence reporting and recording duties or something was missed in error.’’

‘’Sponsor licence management can be a bit like employing an accountant – you don’t recognise the value until you realise how much money and hassle they have saved your business. To us using a sponsor licence management service is a no-brainer as you get a sponsor licence expert on tap to sort out all your queries and concerns before they become expensive problems.’’

UK Online and London-Based Immigration Solicitors and Sponsorship Licence Lawyers

For sponsor licence advice call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

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