The main visa route available for non-British and Irish nationals wanting to work in the UK is now the Skilled Worker visa. The Skilled Worker visa is a sponsorship system: a foreign worker cannot simply apply for this visa unaided. Applicants need a job offer from a UK-based organisation willing to employ them before they can apply. In order to be able to employ foreign workers, an employer must obtain a sponsor licence. This enables them to issue “certificates of sponsorship” to applicants so they can get their visa. Here, we provide a guide to sponsor licence applications.
How to apply for a Sponsor Licence
The most common application within work-based migration is the Skilled Worker sponsor licence. Sponsors have to fulfil certain eligibility and suitability criteria to get their licence, including:
-The sponsor has to submit evidence to show that they are a genuine employer with a lawful trading presence in the UK.
-The Home Office will look at whether the organisation is “honest, dependable,
reliable”, and capable of meeting the responsibilities that it expects from sponsors.
-The sponsor must be able to demonstrate that they can offer “genuine
employment” that meets the skill and salary thresholds of the Skilled Worker route. The Home Office will assess whether a business truly needs the role they are
wishing to sponsor, and recruit for by examining the business type and the people they already employ to see if the sponsored role makes sense within their current
-The sponsor must be able to prove that their organisation has the HR or recruitment systems in place to meet the myriad sponsorship duties that an employer effectively signs up to when they become a sponsor.
What about Compliance Visits?
Sponsors need to be aware that the Home Office can visit them as part of the sponsor licence application process to check that their systems are robust enough. This is the principal method by which the Home Office can assess the suitability criteria.
Pre-licence visits are due to start again shortly after a hiatus for the pandemic. They will usually occur if the application is deemed high risk in some way, or if the sponsoring company is newly formed.
How long does it take for a decision to be made?
Decisions can take up to eight weeks. The Home Office has recently introduced a service to expedite a sponsor licence application for an extra fee of £500 which will ensure an application is decided within 10 working days.
The sponsor will be emailed with the result of the application and if successful they will be granted a licence valid for four years from the date of the decision. If the application is refused, there is no right of appeal against this decision and a six-month cooling-off period will kick in. This prevents the sponsor from making another application during this time period.
We hope that you have found this post on ‘A Guide to Sponsor Licence Applications’ useful.
Our immigration experts are able to provide advice and guidance in relation to a sponsor’s duties. Contact us here to learn more.