UK Visa expiry dates and compliance duties - Be aware some might be expiring over the holiday season

UK sponsorship licence compliance duties - Expiry dates

For organisations holding a UK sponsorship licence and sponsoring migrant workers, monitoring visa expiries is a crucial part of your organisations’ compliance duties as a sponsor licence holder. As the holiday season approaches, distractions and travel plans might lead to an unintentional oversight of expiry dates on employee visas. Employees may be considering travel back to their home countries or planning holidays, potentially increasing the risk of visa expirations being overlooked by both parties.

When a worker's visa expires while they are in the UK and they have not submitted a new application to extend their current status or obtain leave in an alternative category, they no longer have any legal status in the UK, which potentially could lead to adverse legal consequences and their employment with your organisation should cease with immediate effect.

Legal Obligations to ensure all employees have a valid visa

Employers are legally obliged to ensure that sponsored employees have a valid visa. Once a visa expires, the employer might face penalties and legal ramifications for employing someone without the legal right to work in the UK.

If a worker's visa expires whilst they are outside of the UK, attempting to re-enter the UK with an expired visa would likely lead to entry being denied or being admitted as a visitor (under which they are not permitted to work). If entry is denied, they will need to apply for a new visa from outside the UK, pay for fees and attend appointments, potentially causing further delays in returning to the UK.

Lost or stolen Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs)

In addition, when employees are travelling or enjoying the festivities, the risk of losing Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs) inadvertently increases. BRPs are vital documents for migrant workers, indicating their immigration status and rights while residing in the UK. However, the risk of misplacing or damaging BRPs significantly rises during the holiday season.

BRPs should be securely stored, and employees should be reminded to keep them in a safe place to prevent misplacement. Losing or allowing BRPs to expire during the festive period can result in unnecessary costs and administrative hassles.

If a BRP is lost or stolen within the UK and was valid for 3 months or more, workers must report it lost or stolen to the police and UKVI and apply for a replacement. This must be actioned within 3 months of losing it. Individuals can be fined up to £1,000 and made to leave the UK if they do not apply for a replacement within 3 months.

The process for obtaining a replacement involves applying online and paying a fee of £56. The individual would need to follow specific procedures, which might include attending a biometric appointment.

If a BRP is lost, damaged, or stolen whilst outside the UK, this must also be reported as above. It is not possible to apply for a replacement BRP outside the UK. Instead, you’ll need to apply for a ‘replacement BRP visa’, which allows you to re-enter the UK on a single entry. It costs £154.

Once back in the UK, you can apply for the replacement BRP. Again, this must be actioned within 3 months of reporting it lost or stolen unless you have a good reason, for example you were unable to return to the UK in that time.

Visa and BRP organisational compliance duties

Understanding the implications of visa expiries and the costs associated with BRP replacements is crucial for both employers and employees. By proactively monitoring visa expiries, promoting awareness among employees about the importance of safeguarding their BRPs, and understanding the associated costs of replacements, organisations can ensure a smoother and stress-free festive period for both them and their sponsored workers. Maintaining valid visas and ensuring the security of BRPs is essential for legal compliance, the safety of an employee’s right to work, and the smooth-running of your obligations as a sponsor licence holder.

If you would like peace of mind during the festive period, Migrate UK would be happy to conduct an audit of your compliance process and offer any guidance or improvements required.  Alternatively, we offer a full compliance service which takes the pressure off completely.  If you would like to find out more on this, don't hesitate to get in touch with the team.


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