Pre-Licence Priority Service (PLPS) is a specialised service offered by the UK Home Office to expedite the processing of Sponsor Licence applications.  If successfully obtained, PLPS reduces the decision time from eight weeks to just 10 working days, for an additional fee of £500.

Important changes to the system will be implemented from 21 June 2023, designed to streamline and simplify the process of applying.

What is Changing?

  • From 21 June 2023, the process for requesting PLPS will be incorporated into the online form used to apply for a Sponsor Licence. This means that you will no longer be required to submit a separate request by email.
  • You will be able to request and pay for PLPS at the same time as you pay the fee for the Sponsor Licence application. This means that there should be fewer emails back and forth to the Home Office.
  • You can still request and pay for PLPS after submitting your Sponsor Licence application, if preferred. However, this will be done via your online application account rather than by separate email.

What isn’t Changing?

  • The fee. PLPS used to cost £500, and will still cost £500 after the changes.  This is in addition to the Sponsor Licence application fee, set at £536 for small businesses or £1,476 for medium/large businesses.  See our separate article for more on Sponsor Licence Costs.
  • The number of requests granted per day. The maximum number of requests for PLPS which will be granted each day is 30, and this hasn’t changed.  However, the new online request format should make it easier to assess your chances of falling within that 30 per day, and avoid wasting your time if you’ve missed out.

Will the Changes Help?

Without doubt.

We first wrote about PLPS in October 2021, when priority processing was so rarely obtained that it almost wasn’t worth the effort of applying.

Many applicants waited patiently for an invitation to apply for PLPS, which often never came.  Those who did receive an invitation then found themselves firing off email requests at exactly 9am day after day, with no guarantee that their efforts would be rewarded.

And this unenviable situation was in fact an improvement on an earlier system, which required emails to be sent day after day at midnight!

The June 2023 changes should simplify everything, by bringing the PLPS request into the online application portal.

And although the 30-per-day limit remains, the online system should make it impossible to submit a request for PLPS after the 30-per-day limit has been reached.

You might prefer to submit your Sponsor Licence application in the morning to give yourself the best chance of securing PLPS at the same time.  This isn’t essential, however, as you can continue to check the system each working day thereafter, and submit an online request for PLPS any time before the application is considered.

All in all, these are likely to be welcome developments for businesses looking to secure a faster decision on Sponsor Licence applications.  It’s certainly good news for anyone not quite ready to send their first email of the day at exactly 9am!

At least now you can have a coffee first…

We’ll update this article as further details emerge and we build practical experience with the new system.

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Catherine Reynolds
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