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How Long Does it Take to Sponsor an Employee?

Sponsoring a working permit is no easy feat. There are a lot of steps you have to go through, including background checks and medical exams. All of these take time, which means you’ll have to start the process early if you want to sponsor an employee in the UK.

Before you start filling out forms and writing checks, here’s some information about how long it takes to sponsor an employee.

For immediate help or assistance with your situation, call us on 0330 311 6351, We’re here to help you in person, via the phone, or online.


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What is a Sponsor Licence?

A sponsor licence is required to employ an individual from outside of the UK. This includes all of the EU, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein. Note that you do not need a sponsor license for certain groups, including Irish citizens and people with settled status (or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme) in the UK.

To sponsor an employee, you must have a valid licence that will allow you to employ foreign workers. You also need to comply with certain conditions, such as offering them similar pay and benefits as UK employees and providing accommodation.

Sponsorship is not an automatic process, it takes time and effort on both sides. If you are applying for sponsorship as an employer, then you will need to meet certain requirements before being approved as a sponsor. Once approved, your name will appear on the approved list and you can begin hiring foreign nationals.

How Long Will it Take to Sponsor an Employee?

The process for obtaining a Sponsor Licence can be lengthy and difficult. It can take anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks depending on your circumstances and how quickly you need the sponsorship.

You can also speed up your application by paying an extra priority service fee of £500. This will get you a decision within 10 working days. But this service is available to a limited number of applicants and is on a first-come, first-served basis.

If you need to get a Sponsor Licence quickly, then we strongly recommend that you apply for one as soon as possible. Once your application has been accepted, then you will need to wait for your licence to be issued before being able to hire any foreign nationals.

It is also important to remember that your Sponsor Licence will be valid for a maximum of four years. You can also renew the sponsor licence by applying 3 months before the expiry date.

sponsor an employee

Factors Influencing Sponsor Licence Application Processing

UK sponsor licence application processing time is influenced by several factors. These include the type of sponsor licence being applied for, the applicant’s experience, and whether they are applying as an individual or a company.
Here are a few factors that might influence the sponsor licence applications processing:

Applications received

The number of applications received by the UKVI can have an impact on the time taken to process your application. If there is a high volume of applications being made, it may take longer for your application to be processed.

Pre-licence compliance visit

Processing may take longer if the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) decides to visit your UK premises before making a decision on your licence application. The visit will be used to inspect your organization’s immigration compliance.

Complexity of your application

The larger and more complex your organization’s structure, the more documentation you will need to provide with your application. This could result in processing taking longer if the information is not provided in the manner required by UKVI.

Quality of your submission

The quality of your application will also affect the time it takes to process. If you have submitted a poor-quality application, it may not be accepted and you may need to submit another one. This can take time because you will need to fill out forms again and also wait for them to be processed.

Types of Sponsor Licence

There are two types of Sponsor Licence — the ‘Workers’ and ‘Temporary workers‘.

The ‘Worker’ licence is the most common type of licence and it is issued for skilled or long-term employment.

If you only wish to sponsor people temporarily, then you may be better off applying for a ‘Temporary workers’ licence instead.

1. Worker Licence

This is the most common type of UK Sponsor Licence, and it allows you to recruit employees from outside the UK who have a job offer from your company. This licence is split into skilled worker visa, specialist worker visas, ministers of religions, and international sportspeople. All of these categories have different requirements and restrictions.

2. Temporary Worker Licence

This licence is for people who want to come to the UK on a temporary basis and can be used for up to 2 years only.

Temporary Worker license is split into creative workerscharity workersreligious workers, graduate trainees, international agreements, service suppliers, UK expansion workers, secondment workers, and seasonal workers.

The main difference between the two licences is the length of time that your employee can stay in the UK, their job, and the level of skills or qualifications they must have. For example, if you are recruiting a creative worker then they need to work in the creative industry and you can get the worker licence for a maximum of 2 years only.

The Process of Applying for a Sponsor Licence

The process of applying for a sponsor licence in the UK is completely online.

The applicant will have to fill out the application form, provide all the necessary documents, along with the fee and submit it to the Immigration Department.

To start the process for a valid sponsor licence, visit the UK Visas & Immigration website and register online using your name and email address.

Once you have registered successfully, you’ll have to log in to the system and submit all the details and supporting documents.

Note that all the supporting documents must be in a PDF, JPEG, or PNG format only, have proper titles, and are high-quality in resolution.

You’ll also have to include a certified translation if your submitted documents are not in English or Welsh

If you are unable to scan and email the documents, please contact UKVI using the contact details on the submission sheet.

The cost of a sponsor licence depends on the type of business you have and the type of licence you’re applying for.

The sponsor licence fee starts at £536 and goes all the way up to £1,476.

What Happens After you Apply for the Sponsor Visa?

If your sponsor visa application is cleared by the UKVI then you will be able to issue Certificates of Sponsorship and assign a licence rating.

The different ratings used by the UKVI are:

  • A-rating
  • B-rating

If you have an A-rated licence, you can issue a certificate of sponsorship to any qualified migrant worker who meets the requirements of your business.

With an A-rated licence, you can also issue an unlimited number of certificates to any qualified worker who meets the requirements of your business

However, if you have a B-rated licence then you can only issue certificates to extend stay for foreign workers who are already employed by your business.

You will also need to pay £1,476 if you wish to upgrade to A-rating by following the ‘action plan’ provided by UKVI.

What Happens if the Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence Application is Refused?

If your application for a UK Sponsor Licence is refused, you can only request a review of your application against the refusal decision if you think the caseworker made a mistake while working on your application or if the supporting documents that you submitted were not considered.

This is done by submitting a form to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).

The form must provide reasons for why you believe that the decision is incorrect. You can only mention the information about the claimed error or evidence not considered by the caseworker.

Your request will not be considered if you’re disputing the overall decision to refuse your application.

If you do not have any grounds for an appeal, then there is nothing that you can do and you must wait until the 12-month period has passed before reapplying.

Reasons for Sponsor Licence Application Refusal

If your application for a licence is refused, it will usually be because the Home Office has identified one or more reasons why they don’t think you’re suitable to be a sponsor. These include:

Incomplete supporting documents

If your application is incomplete, the Home Office will refuse it. This means that they didn’t receive all of the necessary documents or forms with your application.

Falsified supporting documents

The Home Office is very thorough and will carry out numerous checks to verify the authenticity of any documents they receive. If they find that yours have been falsified or forged, your application will be refused.

Late filing of support documents

You may be refused a sponsor licence if you failed to file certain documents in time. The UKVI must receive all required supporting evidence within 5 working days of the date on which the initial application was made.
If you miss this deadline, you will need to apply again with all the supporting documents and applications.

Failed compliance visit

If UKVI does not think you have adequate recruitment practices, or if the key people in your organization are not trustworthy and capable of carrying out the sponsorship duties, the application can be refused.

How to Avoid Processing Delays or Refused Sponsor Licence Application?

Here are some important things to keep in mind in order to avoid processing delays or refused sponsor licence applications.

  • The UK Immigration Rules state that all applications for an employer licence must be made online on the UK government website
  • You will also need to submit evidence of your sponsorship duties and responsibilities

The sponsorship licence application process is complex, and you will need to provide evidence of your ability to meet the requirements. If you fail to provide this information, your application will be refused.


How to Reduce the Time it Takes to Sponsor an Employee

Applying for a UK Sponsor Licence is a big step, and we know you want to make sure you’re prepared. Here are a few tips to help you reduce the time taken in the processing of a sponsor licence application:

  • Be honest about your business: Your application will be much more likely to be accepted fast if it’s truthful and accurate, so don’t try to hide anything about your business.
  • Submit the right forms: It’s important that you use the correct form for your business type and situation, so check the list of eligible forms before submitting your sponsor licence application process. Also, don’t leave any blank spaces or skip any questions—if there isn’t anything you can answer, write “N/A” in the space provided so that there’s no confusion about what’s missing from the application.
  • Include all required documents: Your application will take a long time in processing and will be eventually denied if you don’t include all of the appropriate documents and forms, so make sure that you’ve included everything before submitting your application.
  • Submit your application on time: If you’re eligible for expedited processing, then make sure to request it when you apply and follow up with the appropriate government agency if they don’t get back to you within 30 days.

What is a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)?

A Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is a document that gives permission for a foreign worker to work in the UK. It must be obtained by the prospective employer and then submitted to the Home Office before an employee can start working.

The CoS confirms that the employer has agreed to sponsor the applicant and that they are able to support them financially during their stay in the country.

Workers who are assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship must apply for a visa within 3 months of being assigned the CoS, and they cannot apply more than 3 months before the start date listed on the certificate.

There are two types of Certificates of Sponsorship issued by the government — Defined and Undefined Certificates.

Defined certificates

If you’re applying for a visa from outside the UK, you must apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship through the sponsorship management system (SMS).

UKVI usually processes applications within one working day, but if they need to carry out further checks on the information in your application this may delay things. Once approved, certificates can be found in your SMS account.

Undefined certificates

These certificates are for workers from the UK and all other visa types. You will be asked to estimate the number of these certificates you will need for Workers and Temporary Workers when you apply for your licence in the first year.

Do you need help applying for a Skilled Worker Visa? Our lawyers can assist you.

Issuing the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)

Certificates of Sponsorship are issued by the UKVI once an application has been submitted via the Sponsor Management System (SMS). Your organization must hold a valid sponsor licence and have access to the SMS in order to apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship

To apply for a certificate of sponsorship (CoS), your nominated Level 1 or Level 2 sponsor should submit the relevant information about the role and post into the SMS. The UKVI will then issue a unique reference number that is used to track the application.

Applications are generally granted within one working day, but can take longer if the UKVI needs to check further information within the application.

Once your sponsorship licence is approved, you will be able to issue the certificate of sponsorship (CoS) to the relevant foreign worker. The CoS is required for most types of skilled worker visas, so it’s important that you make sure your employees have one before they apply for their visa.

As part of your sponsorship licence agreement, you’re also required to provide a detailed job description and job title on each CoS document.

Your Duties as a Sponsor?

Not only do you have to provide financial support, but you must also ensure that all your employees are working legally in the UK and pay tax on their earnings.

You must also ensure that any migrant workers who are sponsored by you will have the relevant work permit and visa before they start work. You are required to inform both UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and HMRC of any changes in the status of your sponsored employees.

If you do not comply with these requirements, your licence could be revoked.

You must also check that your employees have valid leave to remain in the UK and inform the Home Office if they do not. If an employee is found working without permission or working for another employer, then you can be fined or even disqualified from the sponsor management system and sponsoring future migrants.

We can help you if you need help with sponsoring an employee.

How can IAS help?

The process of sponsoring an employee in the UK is not a simple one.

It involves a lot of steps and can be quite challenging to complete. You need to make sure that you have all the mandatory documents and information, which can be a time-consuming process.

IAS Immigration Advice Service can help you make this process easier for you. We will take care of everything for you so that you don’t have to worry about anything else but your business.

We will guide you through each step of the sponsorship process, from gathering all the necessary documentation to completing all the necessary forms, so that your employee can get their skilled worker visa as soon as possible. If you need help right away, call us at 0330 311 6351. We’re available to assist you in person or by phone, or you can get in touch with us online.

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