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Top 10 mistakes: Maintaining your Sponsor licence

Maintaining a Sponsor licence can be hard work, and sometimes the unexpected can hit you when you least expect it. You only find out about this either from reviewing an old file, your solicitors (them again!) or the Home Office.

We have therefore done a list of top mistakes made by sponsors in maintaining their sponsor licence. Ideally, you should avoid making any of these mistakes, but if you find out that a ‘report’ was not made within the given timescales, you should action this immediately.

  1. Your company has undergone restructuring

As someone with the HR team, you focus on the day-to-day ensuring that all matters and employee files are kept up to date. However, brimming within the legal department is an extensive restructuring of the company that no one told you about.

A restructuring can involve a change of ownership, merger, takeover or acquisition of your company. If you hear that there are significant changes to the structure of the company, you must ensure that you report them straight away, or within the time period set out by the Home Office.

If this change affects employees, such as TUPE, that must also be reported with the relevant details provided.

  1. You have changed, added or removed an office

A brand-new office is exciting news and among all the noise it is difficult to sometimes remember that a change to your offices (even if they do not employ migrants) must be reported. Again, this must be accompanied with relevant evidence of the new office.

This also applies to adding a branch, or if you have closed an office, especially if it previously reported on your licence. The last thing you want is for the Home Office to show up at a branch which closed years ago. That would not look good for an ‘unannounced’ audit.

  1. There has been a ‘significant’ change in employment

Employees are not static beings, and some of them will progress through their careers. This will mean their job descriptions may change, for example if they take on more managerial jobs. If the job description changes significantly, which means that it falls within a different SOC Code, you may also have to consider whether the employee needs to make a ‘change of employment’ application.

Other changes can include a change of salary (other than yearly increments, bonuses), change in location etc.

Monica Atwal

Managing Partner

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+44 118 960 4605

Top mistakes made by sponsors in maintaining their sponsor licence.

  1. You have changed your company name

Changing a company name can be an important milestone for the company. For most changes, it requires a careful thought-process, a change in design or sometimes the objectives of your company. The Home Office want you to report this to them, if only for them to understand why the change was made. If it is a superficial change, they may grant the change, but if part of a wider change, they may ask you to take further steps.

  1. Your Authorising Officer/Key Contact has changed

Your key personnel are chosen when you apply for a licence – they must be employees of your organisation. As such, if they leave, you must replace them in good time (there are set limits of when you should report). If you fail to report, not only can this cause you to miss out on important emails being sent by the Home Office but also may result in compliance action.

  1. You do not have a ‘active’ Level 1 user

An authorising officer does not automatically become a level 1 user. A Level 1 user is someone who carries out your day to day sponsorship activities, and as such has access to the Sponsorship Management System.

Whilst you can have more than one Level 1 user, if your Level 1 user(s) leave your organisation, you must replace them immediately.

  1. The size of your organisation has changed

It may that you start out as a small organisation, and over the years you have continued to grow so that your turnover is over £10.2 million or you now have more than 50 employees. If this is the case, then you must report this to the Home Office. This is because it directly affects your liability for the Immigration Skills Charge. You must also report if the size of your organisation changes to small.

  1. You have not kept a record of your Resident Labour Market Test

The Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) is a fundamental part of the Sponsorship system and must be properly conducted before most Certificates of Sponsorship can be issued. Evidence of the RLMT is something that the Home Office routinely require and whilst this makes to the bottom of our list, it is only because we hope that this is a rarer occurrence.

Evidence of the RLMT should be kept for duration of the sponsorship (of the particular migrant), and a year after the sponsorship ends. This evidence is specific, and a failure to properly include all the relevant information will normally lead the Home Office to conclude that the RLMT was never properly conducted. This can result in delays or in some cases, a compliance visit.

  1. You have not kept an up-to-date record of your employee’s contact details

Sometimes overlooked, but still a very important part of the sponsorship regime is to ensure that you keep your sponsored employee’s contact details up to date. This means if they change their UK residential address, telephone number and/or mobile number, you must keep an up-to-date record.

The Home Office can ask for this record to assess your continued compliance with your sponsorship duties.

  1. You have terminated the employment of a sponsored worker/your employee has resigned

You may have decided to end your employment relationship with the sponsored worker, or they may have resigned opting for a different (sponsor) employer. Either way, you must report this to the Home Office adding the migrant worker’s details (including 9 above)


Unfortunately, the errors do not end here, but most can be rectified, if prompt action is taken. If you have experienced something similar from the list above, or have something else to share, please do get in touch. We would be more than happy to assist!

About this article

This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

Monica Atwal

Managing Partner

View profile

+44 118 960 4605

About this article

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