[authors: Tracy Evlogidis, Nicholas J. Hobson and Gemma Goodhead]
Companies have 120 days from the time of a notification to renew their sponsor licence.
With the four-year anniversary of the launch of Tier 2 of the UK's Points-Based System approaching, employers that sponsor non-EU workers under Tier 2 may start to receive email notifications from the UK Border Agency (the UKBA) that they can soon apply to renew their Tier 2 sponsor licence. Notifications are issued by email 120 days before expiration. A large amount of current Tier 2 sponsor licences will expire the day before the four-year anniversary, on 27 November 2012.
Sponsor Licence Renewal
In order to apply to renew a Tier 2 licence, the sponsor must first ensure that they maintained HR records and implemented processes in accordance with the sponsorship duties. They must also ensure the information contained on the sponsor licence via the sponsorship management system (the SMS) (see below) is up to date, including details of the Authorising Officer and Level 1 User. The Level 1 User must then submit an online application and pay an application fee. The Authorising Officer is required to sign a declaration that the sponsor has and will continue to satisfy the sponsorship duties. The application must be submitted prior to the expiry of the current Tier 2 licence. Once the sponsorship licence renewal application has been submitted, the sponsor may then receive a compliance visit from an Immigration Officer or a request for further documentation and information.
Sponsorship Management System
As of 30 July, sponsors are now able to use the SMS to submit their sponsor licence renewal applications and to track the progress of the application as well as the progress and results of requests to amend sponsor licence details, including the appointment of a Key Contact and an Authorising Officer, the appointment of an additional Level 1 User (where there is one or more existing Level 1 Users), and the change of a sponsor's name and/or address. In these cases, sponsors will no longer be notified by email or letter when requests to change sponsor details have been granted; rather, the status of these requests will be posted on the SMS.
If the request is rejected, the UKBA will continue to provide reasons for the refusal or rejection by email to the sponsor's Authorising Officer (emails will be sent from a "no-reply" email address).
Further, sponsors will continue to receive email notification of the approval of certain requests from the UKBA where any of the following occur:
Sponsors request a new Level 1 User where the only other existing Level 1 User has been de-activated or has left the company.
Sponsors request a change to their organisation details as a result of a merger or takeover.
Sponsors request any other change to their sponsor details, such as the addition of a branch or appointment of a representative to act on their behalf.
The change was submitted using a Change of Circumstances paper form.
Employers should ensure that change notifications are submitted within the prescribed time limits (which vary depending on the type of notification being submitted) and should track the processing of the notification via the SMS. If a notification is rejected, and an email confirming the reason for the rejection is received, employers should ensure that the notification is resubmitted immediately (and the reason for the rejection is correctly addressed). Failure to notify the UKBA of changes to the sponsor licence within the prescribed time limits is a breach of the sponsorship duties and the terms of the sponsorship licence. Breaches of the sponsorship duties can cause the licence to be withdrawn or suspended by the UKBA.