With this in mind here are my top tips for January 2017:
1. Renew your unrestricted CoS allocation
In January the Home Office allow you to submit requests for a new batch of unrestricted Certificates of Sponsorship to cover the 2017/2018 financial year. While some businesses will have their allocation automatically renewed, others must submit a request manually and it's easy to overlook this. In the last 12 months I've been contacted by several businesses who have not renewed their allocation and have subsequently required urgent assistance to avoid the loss of key staff. When you consider that a request only takes a short time it is well worth prioritising. Requests can take several weeks to process and the only alternative would be to purchase a priority service from the Home Office so planning ahead could save you time and money.
My colleague Averil Trimble wrote an excellent article on how to make the request and it's well worth reading this in advance of January.
2. Check your licence renewal date
While you are logged onto the Sponsor Management System I'd recommend clicking on the "Licence Summary" section to double check when your licence expires. Licences have to be renewed every 4 years but requests can take some time to process. It is recommended that you apply as soon as the Home Office allows, which is usually 3 months before the expiry date.
Diarise the licence renewal date and make sure others are aware of it so that it is not missed. The actual renewal process is relatively straightforward, but you should be aware it is common for the Home Office to carry out audits on businesses when they apply for a renewal.
Before submitting the renewal application you should be preparing for a possible Home Office visit and checking your record keeping is up to date. My previous article contains some helpful tips on how to prepare for an audit.
3. Check your licence personnel
The Sponsor Management System allows you to manage your key personnel such as Level 1 users and Authorising Officer. As a licensed sponsor the company is obliged to keep these details up to date, and failure to do so can have significant consequences including:
If you don't have a Level 1 user you will not be able to issue Certificates of Sponsorship;
If you don’t have a Level 1 user who is an employee of the company you will be in breach of your licence conditions. This could lead to the Home Office revoking the licence and curtailing sponsored worker's visas.
- If the Authorising Officer is no longer in post you will be in breach of your licence conditions. This could lead to the Home Office revoking the licence and curtailing sponsored worker's visas.
To minimise the risk of this I recommend checking that wherever possible you have at least two Level 1 users and they are aware of who the Authorising Officer is so that this can be changed if required.
Taking all of the above steps could take less than 30 minutes but could save a significant amount of time and hassle later in the year. We can also assist with these steps and can be added as a Level 1 user to help provide compliance support, if you would like to discuss how we can help please get in touch.