Before you submit your application
When submitting a Community Sponsorship Application to the Home Office, you can apply for full approval or approval in principle. Approval-in-principle (AIP) means that you can apply before you have found the accommodation or secured at least £9,000 to support the family. Approval-in-principle allows Community Sponsorship Groups to move through the application process without entering a financially binding agreement on a property until closer to the family’s arrival. However, you will still need to submit a number of documents along with your application. The Home Office will not process an application without the following:
- A completed Local Authority consent form. Obtaining this may take some time, so we recommend you start building relationship with your Local Authority as early as possible.
- Your safeguarding policy – you will also need to show that you gave an opportunity to your Local Authority’s Safeguarding Team to review it
- Your complaints policy
- A completed application form without details of the accommodation. Our Writing your Application section of this toolkit provides tips on completing this.
If you decide to apply for full approval you will also need:
- The completed application form including details of accommodation.
- Evidence that you have secured and ringfenced £9,000 to support the family.
How will the Home Office process your application?
The Home Office will assess the evidence you provide in your application form, policies and any other supporting documents listed above that you submit to support your application. The Home Office might also carry out checks on personnel and will visit you to assess your application in more detail. In this section, we’ll explain what these checks and visits can be like. We’ll also explain what to expect when the Home Office reaches a decision on your application. You can find out more about the application process during our Part 1: Planning Your Application Training Webinar. It is part of the required training you need to take part in before you can welcome a refugee family, and we recommend that you attend the webinar before completing your application.
Checks on personnel
The Home Office carry out checks against their records and against the police national computer, or its equivalent in Northern Ireland in order to ensure that your Community Sponsorship Group and your lead sponsor are fit to resettle a vulnerable family. This is an important part of protecting the resettled families.
If the information obtained via these checks suggests that your Group or your lead sponsor are not fit to assume the responsibility of resettling a vulnerable family then the Home Office may refuse your application.
Reasons that the Home Office might consider someone unfit to act as a Community Sponsor include, but are not limited to, the provision of false information, criminal convictions, or immigration offences. If you want to know about how the Home Office will use your data then you can find that out here.
The Home Office will carry out a pre-approval visit (PAV) with your Group and your Local Authority representatives before a decision on your application is made. Once they have done an initial review on your application, the Home Office will contact you in advance to agree a date. PAVs allow the Home Office to make a more detailed assessment of your application. From March 2020, these 'visits' take place online rather than in person.
During your PAV, the Home Office might:
- Ask you to elaborate on the plans you’ve detailed in your application.
- Identify gaps and ask you to make changes to the application and to do more research about different services in your area.
- Give you an opportunity to ask questions to the Home Office and the Local Authority about supporting refugees.
- Review your safeguarding policies and procedures with you and the local authority, and ask you to make changes where appropriate.
The purpose of the PAV is to facilitate a conversation between your Community Sponsorship Group, the Local Authority and the Home Office. The Home Office may ask you to make additions or changes to your application before giving you full approval or approval in principle. If this happens, it’s important to make these changes as quickly as possible.
Many group members may wish to be involved in the PAV, but not all need to be, and in fact you can keep the number of people who attend relatively small. It's important that those who attend include your lead sponsor, project lead and safeguarding lead. You can include anyone else who you think can provide additional relevant information to the Home Office, but otherwise most of the information can be provided to the Home Office by the lead sponsor and a select number of the core group members.
You can read more about Pre-Approval Visits on Reset's blog.
If you meet all of the criteria detailed above and the Home Office are happy with the support you’ve planned for a resettled family, your application will be approved.
If your application has been submitted, but your group are still awaiting funds or searching for accommodation, then you may be approved in principle subject to the fulfilment of these conditions.
On very rare occasions, the Home Office will reject an application. This could be because security checks carried have failed, or the correct documentation such as your safeguarding policy or Local Authority consent have not been obtained. If your application is rejected, you will be able to submit again so long as the reason for rejection has been addressed.
What happens after your application is approved?
1. Completing the Property Offer Form (POF)
The Home Office will ask you for details of the property and school places available in the area. They will use this form to make sure they identify a suitable family for resettlement.
2. Signing the agreement with the Home Office
You will need to sign a formal agreement with the Home Office. This agreement will set out your responsibilities and those of the Home Office. You can find a sample agreement on the Home Office website
It’s a good idea to read this agreement prior to submitting your application.
3. Attending Part 2: Getting Ready to Welcome, Community Sponsorship Training
You must attend the second part of your required training before you welcome a resettled family. This is an important opportunity to learn about cultural awareness, empowering refugees and preparing for the family’s arrival. You can find out more about our training, how to book it and an upcoming schedule on our training page.
4. Allocating a family for resettlement
It is the Home Office’s role to identify a suitable family. They will then propose the family to your Group and to your Local Authority. Your Group and the Local Authority will usually be expected to confirm to the Home Office within five working days as to whether or not you can accommodate the proposed family. You should consider the case carefully and whether you can accommodate their needs. It is absolutely ok to say "no"; the family will still be resettled and this decision will not count against you.
The family to be resettled will be notified after you confirm whether you can accommodate them. The Home Office will then organize flights and will agree an arrival date with your Group – it is usually around six weeks after the family has been notified. You will receive information about the family so that you can tailor your preparations to their specific circumstances.
The Home Office ensures that security checks are carried out on everyone who will be resettled to the UK. The Home Office will also arrange for the resettled family’s visa and their Biometric residence permit (BRP).
You’ll be at the airport to meet the family when they arrive in the UK. Then you’ll begin to deliver support to the family as you’ve detailed in your application form.
6. Monitoring and Evaluation
Reset will arrange post-arrival support visits with your Group and the refugee family. They will take place in person or online at six to eight weeks after the family you support arrives, again after six months and then again 10 months after. You can read more about the visits here.