Sponsor Licence Applications

Sponsor Licence Applications

For employers who want to hire overseas workers who are not settled in the UK and don't have immigration permission to work for them, a sponsor license must be applied for through the Home Office. 

Depending on which immigration route the overseas worker is hoping to be sponsored on, you will need to apply for a sponsor licence. There are specific requirements for each type of license. As of 31 December 2020, most EU, EEA, and Swiss nationals arriving in the UK must be sponsored by their employer.

What Is a Sponsor Licence?

Obtaining a sponsor licence signifies that an employer has met the necessary criteria and has been approved by the Home Office to sponsor foreign workers. This includes demonstrating their ability to comply with immigration laws and regulations. In addition, they must demonstrate their commitment to providing suitable occupations and fair employment practices.

The sponsor licence application process involves several steps. Firstly, the employer must complete an online application form and pay the required fees. They are then required to provide various supporting documents, such as proof of the company's legal entity, financial records, and details of key personnel responsible for managing the sponsorship process.

The licence is typically valid for four years and allows the employer to issue Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) to prospective employees. A CoS is a unique reference number that enables a non-EEA worker to apply for a long or short term visa's such as the skilled worker visa or international sportsperson visa.

A sponsorship licence can be obtained by submitting an application to the Home Office and paying an application fee. If a business is eligible and meets the job suitability requirements based on its category of sponsor license, all sizes, operating across all sectors, can apply for a sponsor licence.

Maintaining a sponsor licence requires ongoing compliance with the Home Office's requirements. This includes reporting any changes in the sponsored worker's circumstances, such as changes in their employment status or salary. Failure to comply with these obligations can result in the suspension or revocation of the sponsor licence.

Requirements for acquiring a sponsor license as a general rule:

·      The Home Office must be satisfied that your - Business must be operating lawfully in the UK and must not have any history of non-compliance with immigration laws.

·      The business must have a genuine need for migrant workers to fill skilled job roles that cannot be filled by settled workers.

·      Employers must be able to demonstrate their commitment to fulfilling their sponsor duties and obligations.

·      Employers must have appropriate HR systems in place to monitor and track their sponsored employees' compliance with their visa conditions.

·      The business must have a physical presence in the UK and must be able to provide evidence of this

There are a number of documents you will need to submit in order to establish your status as a legitimate company operating lawfully in the UK If you want to sponsor migrants via one or more routes, the documents you must provide will differ based on the type of organisation and the route(s) you choose.

To determine whether you can carry out your sponsor duties and demonstrate your compliance within the timeframe and manner specified in sponsor guidance, the Home Office will examine your current recruitment and human resources processes to determine whether you are capable of fulfilling those duties.

 Route-specific Sponsor Licence Requirements:

To apply for a sponsorship license for an overseas national, employers must also meet various additional requirements specific to the immigration route through which the foreign national wishes to be sponsored. For example Applicants for Skilled Worker sponsor licences must prove that they can offer employment that meets the Skilled Worker route's skill level requirement. And meets the salary level threshold.

Additionally, you can apply for a UK Expansion Worker sponsor licence if you intend to sponsor a worker via Global Business Mobility - UK Expansion Worker visa route by demonstrating to the Home Office that: 

·      An employment offer must meet the skills requirements for the UK Expansion Workers route

·      If your employment meets the Skilled Worker route salary level requirement.

·      Whether the job(s) you're looking to sponsor are genuine;

·      The worker has a direct employer-employee relationship with you (the sponsor) and you are not interested in sponsoring a role where the worker will be hired by a third party to perform ongoing or routine tasks.

If you are interested in obtaining a UK Expansion Worker sponsor licence to sponsor a worker on the Global Business Mobility - UK Expansion Worker visa route, you will need to meet the following requirements as stipulated by the Home Office:

  1. Ability to offer employment that meets the skill level requirement for the UK Expansion Worker route.
  2. Ability to offer employment that meets the salary level requirement for the UK Expansion Worker route.
  3. Authenticity of the job(s) you intend to sponsor.
  4. Absence of sponsorship for a role that involves working for a third party.
  5. Existence of a qualifying link between you (the sponsor) and the overseas business that will send workers to you.
  6. Non-activeness in current trading activities in the UK, but with a presence or "footprint" in the country.
  7. The overseas business planning to expand to the UK must be actively trading overseas and, except for exceptional cases, have been actively trading for at least three years.
  8. Genuine intention and capability to expand to the UK and establish a trading presence within two years.
  9. The planned expansion should be in the same type of business conducted overseas.
  10. The UK business you are establishing is either wholly owned by the overseas business or part of the same legal entity, such as a branch.

Appointing Key Personnel:

Additionally, there are a variety of other immigration routes for workers and temporary workers in the UK, including Global Business Mobility - Senior or Specialist Worker, Scale-up, International Sportsperson, Minister of Religion, and Creative Worker.  Depending on the immigration route (or alternative), there may be route-specific requirements for a licence to sponsor an overseas national.

 Sponsor licence applications will be rejected if they do not meet sponsor licence requirements.

To complete your sponsor licence application, you must include a minimum of four mandatory documents specified in Appendix A of the Home Office sponsor guidance. The specific documents required may differ based on the details of your application.

Alongside providing information about your organisation, the intended job position, and the prospective candidate, you must also provide a clear explanation to the Home Office regarding the purpose of your sponsor licence application.

Prior to submitting your sponsor licence application, it is essential to appoint key personnel to fulfill specific roles within your organisation. These roles consist of an Authorising Officer, a Key Contact, and at least one Level 1 User for day-to-day sponsorship activities using the Sponsorship Management System (SMS).

Authorising Officer: Typically, a senior individual within your company or organisation who is involved in recruitment and/or HR. This person holds ultimate responsibility for the licence and ensuring compliance with Sponsor Licence duties.

Key Contact: The primary liaison between your business and the Home Office. This role can be fulfilled by a legal representative if preferred.

Level 1 User: Responsible for the day-to-day management of the Sponsor Licence through the online portal called the Sponsorship Management System (SMS). This individual must be an employee during the application process, but once the Sponsor Licence is granted, other individuals, including legal representatives, can be designated as Level 1 Users or Level 2 Users with limited SMS tasks.

It is crucial to have these key personnel in place before applying for your sponsor licence. The same person can occupy multiple roles, or different individuals can fulfill each role.

With the exception of UK Expansion Worker sponsor licences, where different rules apply, each Key Personnel member must be based in the UK for the duration of their role, possess no unspent criminal convictions, civil penalties, or adverse history (including immigration-related issues), and be a paid staff member or engaged as an 'office holder' by your organisation, unless an exception is applicable.

Apply for a Sponsor Licence:

To apply for a Sponsor Licence, you must complete an online application form, pay the applicable fee, and submit all necessary supporting documents within five working days of submitting your application.

During the application process, you will be required to provide information about the key personnel you have appointed, along with the documents and evidence that demonstrate your eligibility and suitability.

In addition to providing guidance on the required supporting documents and preparing submissions to support your application, legal representatives can also assist you in completing the sponsor licence application form. However, the sponsor licence application form must be submitted by the sponsor itself.

What is the cost of a sponsor licence?

Sponsor licence applications are subject to different fees depending on the size of your organisation. A small business or charity will be charged £536.00, and a medium or large business will be charged £1,476.00.

The processing time for obtaining a sponsor licence is usually around 8 weeks. The Home Office is responsible for making a decision on sponsor licence applications within this timeframe. In case of urgency, there is an option to utilise the priority service, which incurs a fee of £500.00. By opting for this service, applicants can expect a decision within 10 working days, significantly reducing the processing time.

Duration of a Sponsor Licence:

In the event that your application for a sponsor licence is approved, your licence will remain valid for a period of 4 years. However, it is important to note that if you have the intention of continuing to sponsor workers beyond the initial 4 year duration, it will be necessary for you to submit an application to renew your sponsor licence prior to its expiration.

The UK Expansion Worker sponsor licence cannot be renewed, as it is a requirement to have a UK trading presence established within 2 years from the date of the licence being granted. Once a UK trading presence has been established, it is possible to apply for additional routes to be added to the licence.

Your sponsor licence application must be prepared with utmost care, as there is no opportunity for appeal if it is rejected. Additionally, a six-month cooling off period will be imposed in such cases. It is crucial to approach the application process diligently to avoid any setbacks.

Sponsor Licence Rating:

Upon successful approval of your sponsor licence application, your rating on the published register of licensed sponsors will typically be designated as 'A'. However, for UK Expansion Worker sponsor licence applicants whose Authorising Officer (and Level 1 User) is an employee of the overseas business, a 'Provisional' rating may be assigned instead. It is important to note that conversational behaviour should be avoided in this document. The content should strictly adhere to the given instructions and be relevant to the topic at hand. Once you have obtained a sponsor license, you will have the ability to allocate Certificates of Sponsorship to individuals who desire to work for your organisation.

You will be given access to the Sponsor Management System (SMS). This is an online portal where you can manage your sponsor licence. You must also use the system to report certain events, such as if a migrant fails to report to work.

If you fail to meet your sponsorship licence duties, including conducting appropriate right to work checks you could lose your licence.

Our team of immigration lawyers specialising in business immigration law is here to support UK employers in various aspects. We offer comprehensive assistance to help you secure the appropriate sponsor licence, maintain its highest rating, and fulfill your sponsor duties in compliance with regulations.

Our services encompass a range of areas. Whether you require guidance on the necessary company-related documentation to strengthen your sponsor licence application, assistance in crafting a persuasive business case that convincingly justifies the need for a sponsor licence to fill a legitimate position, or support in implementing a compliant recruitment process, our immigration lawyers are well-equipped to handle the entire sponsor licence application process on your behalf.

We take pride in our approachability and proactivity when it comes to understanding and fulfilling the needs of our business clients. Our team is highly motivated and committed to providing transparent and dependable immigration advice directly to UK employers, ensuring a professional and friendly service throughout the process.

UK Immigration rules are complex and challenging which is why we work to our client's best interest and understand what is at stake.

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