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Sponsor Licence

What is a sponsor licence?

A sponsor licence allows businesses to recruit overseas nationals. A migrant who wants to apply for a Skilled Worker visa, a Temporary worker visa or extend their current visa, must be sponsored, and issued with a certificate of sponsorship, by an employer who holds a sponsor licence. An employer has a legal obligation to ensure all their employees have the right to work in the UK. Therefore, if they want to hire an overseas worker, they must hold a sponsor licence.

Employers who employ individuals who do not have the right to work in the UK may receive a substantial fine per illegal worker.

Requirements for applying for a sponsorship licence

When an organisation applies for a sponsor licence the Home Office will need to establish the following in order to grant the licence:

  • Whether the applicant is a genuine organisation operating lawfully in the UK.
  • Whether the applicant is honest, dependable and reliable.
  • Whether the applicant is capable of carrying out their sponsor duties and evidencing their compliance.
  • If an applicant is applying to sponsor a Skilled Worker, they must be able to show that they can offer genuine employment that meets the Skilled Worker skill level and appropriate rates of pay.

Along with their application, an applicant will need to provide specific documents. The documents an applicant will be required to submit depends on the type of organisation applying and the industry in which they work. If an applicant sends the incorrect documents, their application may be refused.

Types of licence

There are two categories of sponsor licences and the category a business applies for will be dependant on the needs of the business. The two main categories are:

  • Workers – for skilled or long-term employment
  • Temporary workers – for specific types of temporary employment

Businesses can apply for more than one type of licence and each type of licence has several subcategories.

  • Skilled worker. This is the main immigration route for skilled workers outside the UK to work in the UK, unless they are an EU/EEA/Swiss national who have been granted either pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.
  • Senior or Specialist Worker visa – for multinational companies which need to transfer established employees to the UK. If the applicant’s basic remuneration package is not above £73,900, they must have worked for the company for at least 12 months. Unlike the skilled worker route, this route does not lead to settlement in the UK. The length an individual will be permitted to stay in the UK would be five years in any six-year period, where the salary is under £73,900 and 9 years in any 10-year period where the salary exceeds this.
  • Minister of Religion – for people coming to work for a religious organisation. If the position, the migrant worker is coming to the UK to fill is not a senior role, then the role must be a pastoral role. Role within a religious organisation such as media production or administrations may need a Skilled Worker applicant.
  • International Sportsperson – this is for elite sportspeople and coaches who will be based in the UK.

Temporary Worker licence

Temporary worker licences allows businesses to sponsor individuals for short periods of time. The amount of time an individual can spend in the UK will be dependant on the specific licence and visa issued.  The licence is split into the various sub-categories as follows:

  • Creative worker – to sponsor individuals to work in the creative industry for up to two years who can make a unique contribution to the UK’s culture. For example, an actor, dancer, musician or film crew member.
  • Charity worker – to sponsor individuals to do unpaid work at a charity for up to one year
  • Religious worker – to sponsor individuals to work in a religious order or organisation for up to two years, including non-pastoral work.
  • Government Authorised Exchange – to sponsor individuals for work experience for up to one year, research projects or training for up to two years, to enable a short-term exchange of knowledge or for an Overseas Government Language Programme through an approved government authorised exchange scheme.
  • International Agreement – to sponsor an individual to come to the UK to do a job which is covered by international law, for example, workers in a diplomatic household or for a recognised international organisation.
  • Graduate Trainee (Global Business Mobility) – to sponsor individuals who are transferring to their employer’s UK branch as part of a graduate training programme. The position must be for a managerial or specialist role.
  • Service Supplier (Global Business Mobility) – to sponsor individuals to provide services for a UK company for six or 12 months under a qualifying trade agreement either as an employee for an overseas company or a self-employed professional based overseas.
  • UK Expansion Worker (Global Business Mobility) – to sponsor individuals to come to the UK to set up a new branch or subsidiary of an overseas business that has not started trading in the UK. The applicant must already work for the overseas business as a senior manager or specialist employee. This has replaced the sole representative visa.
  • Secondment Worker (Global Business Mobility) – to sponsor individuals to transfer from overseas to work for a different UK business as part of a high-value contract.
  • Seasonal Worker – to sponsor individuals to come to the UK to work in ‘edible horticulture’ for up to six months, for example, to pick fruit or flowers.

How to apply for a sponsorship licence

Applications for a sponsorship licence must be made using the online application form. A legal representative can help prepare the application, but it must be an employee of the organisation who submits the application. Applicants will be asked to choose the tier, categories and subcategories. Applicants must print off and sign a submission sheet which must be sent with the necessary supporting evidence via post within 5 working days of the date of the application.

What are the possible decisions of a sponsorship licence application?

Sponsor Licence applications may be rejected, refused or granted with an A-Rating. A sponsor licence is valid for 4 years, after which it will expire. However, the Home Office may revoke it at any time if the sponsor obligations have not been met. If an application for a licence is granted, then the employer will be able to assign certificates of sponsorship to migrants they want to work for them.

How long does it take to get a decision on an application?

The Home Office aim to decide on all applications within 8 weeks, however, they may want to visit an applicant’s business to ensure they can meet their sponsor obligations. The visits may be with or without notice. Business may be eligible to apply to have their application considered via the priority service for a fee of £500. However, there is no guarantee that the application will be decided quicker.

How much will it cost?

Sponsorship licence applications costs are based on the size of the applying company and the type(s) of visa they want to sponsor.

A business whose annual turnover is £10.2 million or less and has 50 employees or fewer is considered a small business. The fee for small businesses or charities would be £536 and for medium or large business the application fee would be £1,476.

The business must also pay the CoS fee and the Immigration Skills Charge for each migrant worker.

How can we help you?

We offer bespoke tailor-made solutions for our clients to make the process simple for you, by advising you on your obligations as a sponsor and how to ensure compliance, assisting you in preparing your sponsor licence application online and ensuring that you have the correct documentary evidence. We also offer a mock Home Office compliance audit so you are well prepared in the event of a compliance visit.

At Davenport Solicitors, we will:

  • Advise on applying for a sponsor licence so you can employ workers from outside EU countries;
  • Adapt your HR processes to make sure you are compliant with Home Office obligations;
  • Carry out mock Home Office audits to help you implement systems to keep correct records and comply with the strict reporting duties required under a sponsor licence;
  • Implement or refine your processes and procedures so that they are in line with immigration laws and policies.
  • Advise you about issuing Certificates of Sponsorship;
  • Help you to manage the sponsorship process by acting as your appointed Level 1 or Level 2 user;
  • Manage the smooth transfer of staff from your overseas branch to the UK;
  • Advise you on UK settlement for your employees;
  • Assist your employees and their families on initial entry and extension applications;
  • Inform you about legal and procedural changes.

Do you need help with your Sponsor licence application?

Get in touch with one of our expert immigration lawyers today.

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