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Sponsor Licence Renewal Guidance

The UK’s immigration sponsorship system is used by businesses and educational establishments to bring candidates to the UK from around the world for work and study. Under the present sponsor system rules, sponsorship licences are issued for a limited period of four years, after which they must be renewed.

There is no limit on the number of times a business can renew, hence, assuming they remain eligible, they should be able to continue sponsoring. It is imperative that sponsor licence holders renew their licence before it expires, as failure to do so means that sponsored employees will be classed as illegal workers during an unlicensed period.

When can you renew a sponsor licence?

You can renew your sponsor licence up to 3 months before your current sponsor licence expires. We recommend that sponsor licence holders start preparing for their renewal application as early as possible, given the importance of securing a positive decision. We are aware that when assessing sponsor licence renewal applications, the Home Office are often extremely thorough and may use this time to fully vet the ongoing compliance of applicants.

Existing sponsor licence holders can view the renewal dates of their current licence by logging into their online sponsorship management system (SMS) account. You do not need to have an application for renewal of the sponsor licence approved by the expiry date of the current licence, it just needs to be under consideration by the Home Office. For this reason, it is best practice to diarise this in good time. In addition, do not make any assumptions that applying for a renewal of your sponsor licence will be a formality. It may be that new requirements have or are due to be brought in, which you will need to comply with.

How to renew a sponsor licence

The process of renewing a sponsor licence1 is completed via the Sponsorship Management System (SMS), the steps are as follows:

  1. Log in as a Level 1 user to your SMS
  2. From the “Licence summary, applications and services” screen, click “Licence renewal”
  3. In the “Licence renewal introduction screen”, click the appropriate renewal fee (i.e. small or charitable sponsors or medium or large sponsors), and then click “Next”
  4. You will then be taken to the “Licence renewal declaration screen”. Enter the current date, your name, and your position in the organisation, and tick the declaration box. Then click “Continue”
  5. On the “Licence renewal payment” screen, click “OK” and complete the payment process
  6. Click “Submission sheet” on the “Licence renewal submission successful” screen
  7. You can print the Licence renewal submission sheet for your records (you don’t need to send this to the Home Office)

Preparing for compliance visits

As part of the sponsor licence renewal process, you may receive a compliance visit from a Home Office Compliance Officer. The purpose of the visit is to ensure that your systems and processes for sponsorship meet the requirements and obligations of a licenced sponsor. This is most likely if you have not previously had a compliance visit.

The Home Office compliance officer will visit your premises and carry out a number of checks to ensure you are fulfilling your sponsor licence holder duties, including that:

  • You have suitable systems, processes, documentation, and policies for sponsorship
  • You are following the correct processes – e.g. to check that all sponsored staff have the right to work in the UK
  • You are meeting your Home Office reporting requirements

As part of the compliance process, Home Office case officers may speak directly to sponsored staff to check that the details you hold about them are correct. This may include their home address and contact details and current role and salary.

Where a Home Office compliance officer has concerns that your organisation is not adhering to its duties and obligations, they may refuse the renewal application.

Sponsor licence renewal fees

Your sponsor licence renewal fee are the same as for the sponsor licence application fees, which will depend on the type of sponsor licence you currently hold, as follows:

Type of sponsor licence

Renewal fee for small or charitable sponsors

Renewal fee for medium or large sponsors




Temporary Worker



Worker and Temporary Worker


£ 1,476

Fee to receive a faster decision


According to the sponsor licence guidance, when calculating your Tier 2 sponsor licence renewal fee, you will be classed as a small company if the following apply:

  • Annual turnover of no more than £10.2 million
  • A balance sheet total of no more than £5.1 million
  • No more than 50 employees on average

How long will it take to renew a sponsor licence?

It can take up to 8 weeks to receive a decision on a sponsor licence renewal application. The Tier 2 sponsor licence renewal processing time can be kept to a minimum by ensuring that you provide all of the information and evidence required by the Home Office as early as possible. In addition, by making sure that your UK visa sponsorship systems, records, and processes are fully compliant before a Home Office compliance officer visit, you can ensure your application is not delayed or refused.

If you require a faster decision, it may be possible to use the priority service, which will provide a decision within 10 working days, for an additional fee of £500. Only a limited number of applications can be considered for a priority decision each day, and these are issued on a first-come, first-served basis.

What to do if your sponsor licence application is rejected?

Sponsor licence renewal applications may be refused for a number of reasons, including:

  • Not providing all of the information required by the Home Office
  • Where there are concerns that the organisation is not using their sponsor licence for genuine purposes
  • Non-payment or incorrect payment of the sponsor licence renewal application fee
  • Not meeting sponsor compliance duties
  • Not meeting the Home Office’s reporting requirements
  • Not responding to enquiries made by the Home Office sponsorship team

If your sponsor licence application is refused, it is recommended to seek the guidance of an immigration solicitor specialising in sponsored business immigration. Depending on the circumstances and reasons for the refusal, they may recommend:

  • Requesting a review of the decision made by the Home office. This is most likely where it appears that the case officer who considered your application made a mistake or if they did not take into account a document you provided.
  • Prepare and submit a new application – if there are no grounds to request a review, it may be preferable to address the reason for refusal and then prepare and submit a new application.

How can Reiss Edwards help?

As specialists in the sponsored business immigration, Reiss Edwards can handle all aspects of sponsor licence renewal and sponsorship compliance. Our team of sponsor licence specialists can:

  • Handle the process of securing your sponsor licence renewal
  • Recommend where changes are needed to achieve sponsorship compliance
  • Ensure your organisation remains compliant with your sponsor licence requirements
  • Deal with sponsor licence downgrades or suspensions
  • Advise on global mobility strategy for your organisation
  • Handle any type of sponsored visa application
  • Review sponsored visa applications and documentation prior to submission
  • Handle refusal of sponsor licence or sponsored visa applications

Speak to our immigration lawyers for a free telephone consultation on 020 3744 2797 or by email at


1GOV.UK: Renewing a sponsor licence via the Sponsorship Management System

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