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Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence: Application Help

An employer in the UK that needs to sponsor skilled worker employees must obtain a skilled worker sponsor licence.

At the Immigration Advice Service, we have the expertise and resources to help employers apply for a licence. We can guide applicants through every step of the process, from submitting an application to providing advice on record-keeping and compliance requirements. Get in touch with us today. Call us on 0333 414 9244, or contact us online.

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What is a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence?

The Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence allows UK employers to sponsor skilled foreign workers for jobs that cannot be filled by British citizens.

The licence is valid for four years and allows the holder to sponsor an unlimited number of workers. To be eligible for a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence, employers must have a valid UK business address.

They must also demonstrate that they are able to meet the needs of their sponsored workers, including paying the correct salary and providing suitable working conditions.

To apply for a Licence, employers must complete an online application and pay the application fee. If successful, they will be issued with a licence number which they must use when sponsoring workers.

Do You Need a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence?

If you are an employer in the UK who needs to recruit foreign workers for specific roles, then you must obtain a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence.

This is the only way to guarantee that your sponsored worker will be eligible to live and work in the UK.

As such, any employer wishing to employ skilled workers must have a valid Sponsor Licence before they can start recruiting.

You will need to apply for a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence if:

  • You have a vacancy that cannot be filled by any British or settled workers.
  • You require the services of a skilled worker in order to meet the needs of your business.
  • You are able to meet the salary and working conditions.
a skilled worker employee working in a computer

What Are The Eligibility Criteria for Roles, Employers & Workers?

Overview

For an employee to be eligible for sponsorship under the Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence scheme, they must meet certain criteria related to their role and qualifications.

Eligibility of the role

The role must meet the following requirements:

  • It is a skilled role at or above Regulated Qualifications Framework level 3 or above, or an approved Skilled Worker Apprenticeship.
  • The role matches one of the standard occupation codes (SOC) in the Skilled Worker Shortage Occupation List.
  • The role requires a minimum salary of £20,480 per annum or the going rate for the job (whichever is higher).
an employee drinking a coffee

Eligibility of the sponsor

To be eligible for a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence, the employers must:

  • Understand the general requirements for sponsoring a worker.
  • Be satisfied that the worker can meet the immigration requirements for this route.
  • Only sponsor workers in genuine employment which meet the skill-level and salary requirements of this route.
  • Assign a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to the worker they wish to sponsor and pay any relevant CoS fee and Immigration Skills Charge.
  • Ensure they understand the difference between a ‘Defined CoS’ and an ‘Undefined’ CoS.
  • Keep records for each worker they sponsor, including information on how you recruited the worker.
  • Have eligible key personnel in place to manage their licence and assign or apply for CoS.
  • Understand and comply with all of your sponsor duties.

To get a sponsor licence as an employer, you cannot have:

  • Unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences or certain other crimes, such as fraud or money laundering;
  • Had a sponsor licence revoked in the last 12 months.

Eligibility of the worker

  • The worker must have a valid visa and/or work permit for their country of residence.
  • The worker must have a valid passport and be able to demonstrate that they can speak English to an intermediate level.
  • They must also have the necessary qualifications and experience for their role.
  • If applicable, they may also need to show that they are registered with a professional body in their country of origin.
  • The worker must have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) issued by the Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence holder.

Are you aiming to obtain a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence? We would be happy to assist you.

What are the Requirements?

Overview

To successfully apply for a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence, employers must demonstrate that they meet certain criteria related to their organisation and compliance with sponsor duties.

Genuine organisation operating lawfully

Employers must show that their organisation is genuine and operating lawfully in the UK. This may include evidence of registration with Companies House, proof of ownership or directorships, and accounts from auditors or accountants.

Genuine employment

The employer must also show that the Skilled Worker’s employment is genuine and not just a way to gain access to the UK labour market. They must provide evidence of job descriptions, contracts between them and Skilled Workers, and proof of payment for the Skilled Worker’s services.

Compliance with sponsor licence duties

The Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence holder must demonstrate that they understand their responsibilities as a sponsor and are complying with all relevant immigration laws.

This may include showing evidence of policies and procedures in place to ensure that sponsored employees are not working illegally or underpaid.

The employer must also provide evidence of monitoring Skilled Worker absences and ensuring the sponsorship rules are being adhered to at all times.

Honest & reliable

The Skilled Licence holder must show that they have a good track record in terms of employing Skilled Workers and honouring their obligations as an employer. This may include providing references from current Skilled Workers or showing that they have a good record of employment under the Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence.

Sponsor Licence Suitability Requirements for Employers

Overview

The Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence holder must also show that they have adequate HR systems and procedures in place to ensure compliance with the rules and regulations governing Skilled Work Visas.

This may include providing evidence of recruitment processes, staff training on immigration law, monitoring Skilled Worker absences, and other policies related to Skilled Workers. Home Office will be assessing the following:

HR systems & procedures

The employer must show that they have a clear HR system in place to ensure Skilled Workers are managed in line with all relevant immigration laws. This may include evidence of staff inductions, training and monitoring of Skilled Worker absences.

Compliance visits

As part of their application for a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence, employers may need to demonstrate that they are willing to cooperate with Home Office inspections and comply with Home Office requirements and guidance for sponsor licence holders.

This includes being willing to allow Home Office compliance officers access to their premises for visits and providing documents related to Skilled Worker sponsorship as requested.

Background checks

The employer must also show that they are carrying out appropriate background checks on Skilled Workers prior to offering them employment.

This may include checking the Skilled Worker’s right to work in the UK, verifying their qualifications, and ensuring they have the skills and experience necessary for the job.

The Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence holder must be able to demonstrate that these checks are being carried out regularly and consistently across all Skilled Workers employed under this licence.

an employer looking at a document

Not sure if you’re suitable for Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence? Call us today for assistance.

two employees handing documents

What is a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)?

A Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is a document issued by the Home Office that confirms that an employer has met all the requirements to become a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence holder and that the employer is willing to employ a Skilled Worker.

The CoS contains information about the Skilled Worker, including full name and date of birth, details of the job on offer and when it will start.

The CoS is required as part of the Skilled Worker’s visa application and must be issued by the employer before the application can be submitted.

What is a defined Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)?

The term ‘defined Certificate of Sponsorship’ or ‘CoS’ is used when referring to a CoS which has been specifically assigned to a foreign Skilled Worker for a specific job, as opposed to a generic CoS which can be used by any Skilled Worker.

The defined CoS will provide the Skilled Worker with details of the job they are applying for, including salary and any other conditions.

What is an undefined Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)?

The annual allocation of undefined CoS runs from 6 April to 5 April each year and is based on the number of certificates allocated to an employer by the Home Office for that period.

It is important to note that undefined CoS cannot be used for a specific job and must be allocated to a Skilled Worker before they can apply for a visa.

Want to apply and obtain a Certificate of Sponsorship? Our expert immigration lawyers are here to help.

What are the Language Requirements?

All Sponsor Licence applicants must provide evidence that they can communicate effectively in English.

This may include providing test results from an approved English language test, documentation of past qualifications in English, or evidence of living and working in a majority English-speaking country.

Skilled Workers must also demonstrate that they are able to read, write and understand the job role and workplace instructions given to them.

Having either at least the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages CEFR level B1 in reading, writing and speaking is required to ensure Skilled Workers have the necessary language skills.

an employee writing in a paper

What is the Process for a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence Application?

Overview

To apply for the skilled worker sponsor licence, you must fill out an online form on the Sponsor Management System and provide all the necessary documents. The Sponsor Licence application process involves several steps:

Appoint your key personnel

As part of the licence application, you have to assign the following roles to nominated individuals:

Authorising officer

This is someone who is authorised to make decisions on behalf of the organisation about Skilled Workers. Also, the authorising officer is the senior most staff a will be for the actions of the staff and representatives.

Key contact

This is someone who has been appointed as the main point of contact for Skilled Workers, sponsors and UKVI. This individual should be able to provide advice on Skilled Worker sponsorship matters.

Level 1 user

This is an individual who is responsible for the Sponsor Licence-related administrative tasks, such as managing Skilled Worker applications and sponsorship duties.

Level 2 user

This is an individual who can access the Sponsor Licence records to carry out Skilled Worker sponsorship activities.

SMS & compliance

As part of the skilled worker route, employers must comply with SMS & compliance. Sponsorship management system (SMS) & compliance is a term used in the UK to describe the process and regulations by which employers must abide to sponsor skilled workers.

This includes duties such as record-keeping, monitoring and reporting, absence monitoring, and duty to notify. Failure to comply with SMS & compliance can result in sanctions against the employer, including loss of sponsorship licence.

Record-keeping

Employers must keep records of all Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence activities, such as applications and SMS & compliance requirements. This includes maintaining documents that support evidence of SMS & compliance.

Monitoring and reporting

Employers are responsible for monitoring the performance and progress of their sponsored Skilled Workers and reporting any changes or breaches to UKVI in a timely manner if the sponsored individual:

  • Fails to start work when expected.
  • Has 10 days of consecutive unauthorised absence.
  • Has their contract terminated earlier than expected, i.e. resignation.
  • Moves into another immigration category or nationality.
  • Suffers a change in their salary or working conditions.

Absence monitoring

Employers must keep track of the absences of their Skilled Workers and ensure that they do not exceed 10 days consecutively without authorisation. If this occurs, SMS & compliance regulations dictate that the employer must notify UKVI as soon as possible.

Do you wish to apply for Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence? We are here to assist you.

Duty to notify

Employers are obliged to inform UKVI of changes in circumstances that may affect SMS & compliance, such as changes in contact information or termination of employment. It is essential that SMS & compliance requirements are adhered to maintain a valid Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence.

By meeting SMS & compliance requirements, employers can ensure that their Skilled Workers are compliant with immigration regulations and working according to the terms of their licence.

This is especially important as failure to comply with SMS & compliance may result in the loss of the organisation’s Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence.

As such, employers must ensure that SMS & compliance is a priority to protect their Skilled Workers and remain compliant with UKVI regulations.

Home office site inspections

Sponsors are subject to Home Office site inspections which will assess SMS & compliance. The purpose of the inspection is to examine SMS & compliance procedures and ensure that they meet all UKVI standards.

During the inspection, sponsors must provide evidence of SMS & compliance and demonstrate their ability to manage Skilled Worker sponsorship effectively.

Inspectors may also examine SMS & compliance records, including documents that prove SMS & compliance requirements are being met.

If SMS & compliance procedures are not up to standard, the Home Office may take action against the sponsor and impose sanctions or even remove their Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence.

How to submit the application

The Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence application can be submitted through the Government Digital Service portal. All necessary documents and information must be provided to complete the application process, including evidence of SMS & compliance.

Once UKVI receives the application, it will be checked to ensure that all requirements are met and the applicant has provided sufficient evidence of SMS & compliance. If the application is successful, the applicant will receive an email confirming their Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence and outlining all applicable SMS & compliance requirements.

It is important to note that to remain compliant with UKVI regulations, employers must ensure they stay up-to-date with any changes to SMS & compliance. The Home Office website is an excellent source of information and guidance on SMS & compliance which can help employers remain compliant with all relevant regulations.

If you have any questions in getting a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence, our team would be happy to assist you.

writing a checklist note

Sponsor Licence Application Supporting Documents Checklist

When applying for a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence, employers must provide all relevant documents to prove that they meet the SMS & compliance requirements.

The following is a checklist of the necessary supporting documents:

  • Evidence that the sponsor/business has coverage for employer’s liability insurance up to £5 million.
  • Certificate of VAT registration and PAYEE reference number.
  • Evidence of registration as an employer with HM Revenue and Custom.
  • Recent bank statement or a letter from the bank setting out dealings with the organisation.
  • Proof of ownership or lease of the business premises.
  • Organisational chart outlining the structure of the business.
  • Evidence that the organisation has appointed a contact person, such as a key worker or authorised representative.
  • A signed copy of the Code of Practice outlining SMS & compliance procedures.
  • Copy of the Human Resources (HR) policy manual.
  • Details of any existing sponsorship arrangements and the names of sponsored Skilled Workers.
  • Training and development policies.
  • Copy of records showing the number of Skilled Worker applications received, approved and rejected.
  • Absence monitoring procedures.
  • Evidence of how the sponsor will manage any changes to SMS & compliance.
  • Relevant company insurances.
  • Financial records
  • Payroll records
  • Employment contracts
  • Health and safety policies

It is important to note that all documents must be up to date. Furthermore, employers must provide evidence of SMS & compliance to prove that they are adhering to all UKVI regulations.

How Long Does a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence Application Take?

The length of time it takes to process a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence application may vary depending on the complexity of the application and whether all necessary documents have been submitted.

Generally, it can take up to 8 weeks for UKVI to assess an application and determine whether SMS & compliance requirements are being met. During this period, employers will be required to update any documents that are necessary to remain compliant.

Once the application is successful, employers will receive an email confirming their Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence and outlining all applicable SMS & compliance requirements.

How Much is the Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence Application?

The cost of a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence application depends on the size of the company and the number of sponsored workers. Generally, organisations with up to 50 sponsored workers will pay £536 for their application. For organisations with more than 50 sponsored workers, the cost is £1476.

In addition to this sponsor licence application fee, employers must also pay an Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) of £1,000 per year for each sponsored worker. This fee is payable in advance and must be paid before the start of the visa application process.

Finally, employers may also be required to pay a Home Office premium fee if they are applying for a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence with access to the Expedited Visa process. This fee is dependent on the specific visa application and can range from £500 to £1000.

Applying for a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence can be complex. Let us guide you through the process.

What Happens After I Apply?

Once the application is submitted and all necessary documents are provided, UKVI will assess the application and determine whether it meets all SMS & compliance requirements. If successful, an email will be sent confirming that a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence has been granted and outlining all applicable SMS & compliance requirements.

a person working in a laptop

What Happens After My Application is Approved?

Once a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence has been approved, employers must continue to monitor and update their SMS & compliance requirements to remain compliant with UKVI regulations.

Additionally, they will be required to keep a record of all sponsored workers and report any changes in circumstances or breaches in compliance. The employers can also start to assign Certificates of Sponsorship to migrants and begin the visa application process.

What If My Application is Refused?

If an application for a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence is refused, employers can appeal the decision by submitting additional documents or evidence to prove their SMS & compliance. UKVI may also schedule an interview to assess the application further.

It is important to note that any appeals must be submitted within 28 days of receiving the refusal notice. If still unsuccessful, employers must wait 6 months to reapply for a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence to sponsor migrants.

Get an expert advice from our immigration lawyers. We will guide you and ensure a seamless application

Your Responsibilities as a Sponsor (Employer)

As a Sponsor (Employer), you must ensure that you meet all applicable SMS & compliance requirements. This includes keeping detailed records of sponsored workers, reporting any changes in circumstances or breaches in compliance, and paying the appropriate fees associated with the Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence.

Additionally, you must ensure that your documents remain up to date and that your sponsored workers are always in compliance with UKVI regulations.

Failure to comply with all SMS & compliance requirements can result in serious consequences, including suspension of your Skilled Worker Sponsorship Licence and/or fines. It is, therefore, important to ensure that you meet all requirements and adhere to the terms stated by UKVI.

Things to Avoid with your Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence Application

The UKVI has strict requirements with regard to sponsorships and applications. It is important to ensure that you fully comply with all SMS & compliance requirements before submitting your skilled worker route application. Avoid the following to ensure the best chance of success:

  • Submitting an incomplete application.
  • Providing false or misleading information.
  • Not paying the necessary fees associated with the licence.
  • Not adhering to UKVI regulations and requirements.

How Can Immigration Advice Service Help?

At Immigration Advice Service, we understand how complex and challenging the process can be. Our team of legal experts are here to guide you through the entire Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence application.

We will provide tailored advice and assistance to ensure that you meet all SMS & compliance requirements and submit a successful application.

Here are some of the services we offer:

  • Assessment of eligibility.
  • Advice on necessary documents and evidence.
  • Preparation and submission of the Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence Application.
  • Help with appeals if your application is refused.
  • Regular updates regarding your application status.
  • Representation at interviews.

We strive to provide a comprehensive service that will ensure a successful application. Contact us today on +0333 414 9244 or find us online to find out more about how we can help you with your Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence application.

We offer immigration advice sessions as face to face appointments at all of our UK offices, or via the phone.

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Frequently Asked Questions

It is not necessarily difficult to get the UK Skilled Worker visa, however it can be a complex process. Employers must meet all applicable SMS & compliance requirements and provide necessary documents and evidence.

The processing time for a UK Skilled Worker visa can vary depending on the complexity of the application. Generally, it takes 3 weeks, if you’re outside the UK, and 8 weeks if you’re already in the UK.

If your Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence application is refused, you have the right to appeal the decision. It is important to note that any appeals must be submitted within 28 days of the decision being received.

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