It’s that time of year again – allocation renewal for Certificates of Sponsorship
From 6 August 2014, UK Visas and Immigration introduced automatic renewal of Certificates of Sponsorship through the Sponsor Management System (SMS). However, as the allocations year runs from April to April, and the traditional renewal period has run from January to April each year, the effect of this change is only now being felt by SMS users.
The rationale for the change was to make life easier for SMS users. Rather than having to justify the number of Certificates they require for the forthcoming year, UKVI decided they would simply allocate a number equal to the amount of Certificates of Sponsorship the business assigned in the previous year (whether Tier 2 General or Intra-Company Transfer). This sounds simple enough, but if your business had a particularly quiet year on the recruitment front in 2014, or you managed to find candidates from the local labour force, you may have assigned hardly any Certificates. If, by contrast, you anticipate your needs changing this year (for example, you have a recruitment campaign coming up, or you need to recruit individuals into specialist roles which are difficult to fill locally) you may find that you do not have enough allocations to cover your needs for the 2015/2016 allocation year. Whilst you have the ability to request ad-hoc increases to your allocations through the SMS, this process can be slow, and UKVI recently informed us that such applications will only be expedited if the Certificate needs to be assigned within the next 15 days due to the expiry of an employee’s leave to remain. The ability to plan for your recruitment needs in the forthcoming year has therefore been taken out of your hands, and the new regime will put increased pressure on SMS users who will only find out if their allocations have been increased with two weeks to go before the Certificate must be assigned.
Further, this change was not well publicised by the Home Office, and what was not made clear at the time of the announcement was that not all licence holders will have their allocations automatically renewed. For example, those who have applied for a sponsor licence in the last year (and therefore don’t have a full year of allocations in 2014/2015 to enable UKVI to assess their needs) are unlikely to be subject to automatic renewal. Whilst UKVI policy states that sponsors would be advised in advance whether automatic renewal would apply to them, our experience is that this has not taken place. We therefore encourage all level 1 users to log into their SMS to see if they have been subject to automatic renewal, which took place for a number of users on 6 January 2015. For those lucky sponsors who are not, you are still able to plan your recruitment needs for the year ahead and specify the amount of Certificates you believe you will require.
If your business needs help with the annual CoS renewals process, we would be happy to help. You can contact our dedicated Business Immigration Team.
The articles published on this website, current at the date of publication, are for reference purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your own circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action.