'Limited' priority service
re-opens for sponsors

The Home Office has now re-opened its Tier 2 and 5 priority change of circumstance service following months of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The priority service allows sponsors to pay a £200 fee to fast-track certain administrative changes in relation to their sponsor licence, in order to receive a decision within five working days.

Under standard processing times, sponsors can expect to wait up to 18 weeks to receive a decision on their change of circumstances request. Whilst the priority service has been closed, thousands of sponsors have been facing lengthy waits when submitting changes for approval by the Home Office.

Although the reopening will be welcomed by many employers, the service will be running at a limited capacity, and demand is likely to be extremely high. Previously, a maximum of 60 priority service requests would be accepted each day, however this has now been reduced to just ten requests considered per day.

With thousands of sponsors joining the queue to hurry requests through, it is likely many employers will need to continue waiting whilst the Home Office attempts to tackle the increased demand.

What does the priority service offer?

The priority change of circumstances service allows sponsors to fast-track certain changes to their sponsor licence by submitting an application via email.

Using the service, sponsors can request:

  • Additional Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) allocation (unrestricted CoS only)
  • Annual Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) allocation
  • To add a new Level 1 user or change an existing Level 1 user
  • To replace or amend the Authorising Officer (AO)
  • To replace or amend the Key Contact (KC)
  • To add a representative
  • To amend the organisation’s details (i.e. if you have moved to new premises).

Who can use the priority service?

You are eligible to use the priority service if:

  • You are an A-rated Tier 2 or 5, fully active licensed sponsor
  • You have submitted a request on your Sponsorship Management System (SMS) prior to emailing the priority service mailbox
  • The request is not already in progress or allocated to a caseworker

If you are a premium sponsor signed up to the Home Office’s paid-for service offering enhanced support for sponsors, you are not eligible to use the priority service and should contact your dedicated Account Manager with any requests.

How to submit a request to the priority service

To apply for the priority service, you must first submit a change of circumstances request on your Sponsorship Management System (SMS). Once the change has been recorded on the SMS, you will need to complete a priority request form and send this as an attachment to Tier2and5PriorityRequests@homeoffice.gov.uk.

All requests must be submitted within the service’s opening hours of 9am to 5:30pm Monday to Friday. You can also apply for multiple priority requests as long as they are all on the same sponsor licence.

If your request is successful, you will receive an email from the priority service team with further instructions, and a separate email containing a link to make your £200 payment online. If you fail to make payment within 72 hours of the time you receive the email, your priority request will expire and you will need to apply for consideration again.

Help with managing your sponsor licence

If you are a sponsor licence holder and need support with managing your licence or complying with your sponsor duties, Smith Stone Walters can help.

We have helped a wide range of businesses to successfully apply for a sponsor licence, and our dedicated consultants will work with you to ensure ongoing compliance once your licence is granted.

To find out more, speak to a member of the team today on 020 8461 6660 or email info@smithstonewalters.com.

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