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Sponsor Licence for a Recruitment Agency: a Guide

UK employment and recruitment agencies can apply for, and be granted, a sponsor licence to recruit foreign workers legally. However, these migrant workers must work directly in any department of the recruitment company involved.

Contact us at 0333 305 9375 for more information on how to apply for a sponsor licence or any other immigration matter. You can also reach us online at Immigration Advice Services or via email.


What Does the Sponsor Licence for Recruitment Agency Entail?

UK recruitment agencies must obtain a Sponsor License if they want to sponsor non-European and non-EEA nationals who wish to work in the UK on a skilled worker visa basis. Obtaining a Sponsor License is an important step for recruitment agencies, as it will allow them to easily identify genuine job candidates from abroad and help workers from other countries gain access to the UK workforce.

It’s an essential opportunity for providing equal access to employment opportunities. The Sponsor License promises to be an essential part of the recruitment process, making the process more efficient and compliant with the government’s regulations.

If you are an employment agency, the Home Office requires that you have a skilled worker visa Sponsor License to sponsor migrant workers who will be employed directly by you. You may not use your Sponsor License to supply labour to another organisation, even if a genuine contractual agreement exists between the two parties.

It is important for employers to understand the restrictions on their Sponsor License and adhere to the requirements set out in the immigration guidance. Sponsors who do not comply with these rules can face serious consequences, including suspension or revocation of their license.

How to Apply For a Sponsor Licence For Your Organisation

1. Preparation of Supporting Documents

There must be a clear demonstration of ownership of genuine employment operating legally in the UK. This is to prevent illegal working by ensuring that all UK employers offer genuine employment to migrant workers. Also, the documentation required here depends on your application route and the company type. However, most employment agencies supply documents such as:

  • The latest financial report or audited annual report;
  • The most recent set of fully audited accounts;
  • Certificate of current VAT return and VAT registration;
  • Evidence of ownership or hire of the business premises;
  • Proof of employers’ liability insurance (with a minimum of £5 million);
  • Proof of registration with the Customs and HM Revenue for national insurance functions and PAYE.

If there is a need for an affidavit or any statutory declaration, this must be done in the presence of a solicitor or any other qualified person. All the supporting documents must also be supplied within 5 working days from the date of application for the sponsor licence. Therefore, we advise that you prepare all the necessary information before the completion of the online form.

2. Designation of Key Personnel to Key Roles

There are certain offices that you need to nominate some key personnel to fill. The aim is to ensure that there is a smooth relationship between the Home Office, other parties involved, and your employment agency during and after the application to sponsor foreign workers.

A. Authorising Officer
The authorising officer is the senior person responsible for strictly adhering to all the sponsor duties an employment agency must meet. This same person shall also be responsible for selecting workers with full access to the sponsorship management system.

B. Key Contact
This officer serves as the nexus or intermediary between the Home Office and your business enterprise. Hence, this officer plays a vital role in making your employment agency a certified sponsor licence holder.

Depending on your organisation’s size, it may be wise to nominate one person to occupy more than one role. You can also appoint a Level 1 user to help coordinate the sponsor management system. However, you need to evaluate their suitability for your agency, including whether they reside in the UK, or if they are free of any bankruptcy declaration or criminal convictions.

3. Completion of the Online Application

Your application for a sponsor licence is not successful until you complete the online application and the type of details required to fill out the form depends on the type of sponsor licence you’re aiming at. That is, whether you’re hiring temporary workers or skilled workers. However, every applicant has to give the following information:

  • The number of certificates of sponsorship needed and the rationale for the number. If granted, you’ll be provided that specific number of certificates for the financial year;
  • Which officers are designated to the key roles.

You are also expected to provide full information on the type of employment agency you’re running and its mode of operations, such as:

  • Its category of organisation and size;
  • Its location and areas of operation (if it has branches or subsidiaries); and
  • The number of years it has been operating in the UK economy.

Further information may also be required of any individuals earmarked for sponsorship as skilled workers. For example, whether they have a valid skilled worker visa, their job description, hierarchical structure, occupation code, qualifications and experience, and how they were chosen.

IAS can assist you in acquiring your Sponsor Licence. Let’s clear up anything you’re unsure about.

Required Standards For the Application for Sponsor Licence

The simple objective of this application process is to convince the Home Office that you’re eligible and suitable for a sponsor licence. Thus, a specific team at the Home Office will conduct the eligibility, suitability, and genuineness standards on your employment agency. The application will be rejected if it fails any of these standards. On the other hand, there is no restriction to the type or size of the organisation that can possess a sponsor licence or sponsor foreign workers.

1. Eligibility Test

  • Genuine and Legal Operation in the UK

It is not enough that your organisations offer genuine employment; it must also be proven that they are operating legally in the UK economy. Hence, it must be a bona fide business entity duly registered by the appropriate body.

  • Fully Based in the United Kingdom

If there is no evidence of physical or trading presence in the UK, your application will end up rejected. In order to be successful in your sponsor licence application, you must demonstrate that your organisation operates legally and genuinely in the UK. To do this, you need to make sure that the business premises used are owned or leased by the organisation itself. This ownership or lease should also be evidenced through documents such as tenancy agreements, title deeds or other similar forms of proof.

If your organisation operates online with no physical presence in the UK, you can still meet the Home Office requirements. You need to show that the organisation operates lawfully by adhering to relevant laws and regulations. This includes being compliant with any tax obligations or other requirements for conducting business in the UK. Furthermore, you should also ensure that the organisation has a legal presence in the UK and is operating lawfully by adhering to relevant laws and regulations. This includes being compliant with any tax obligations or other requirements for conducting business in the UK.

2. Suitability Test

The Department of UK Visas and Immigration of the Home Office will also vet a potential sponsor of foreign workers by determining if they adhere to the following requirements:

  • They Must Offer the Skilled Worker a Genuine Contractual Arrangement

The arrangement must also fit into the description or criteria of foreign workers, and the Home Office may confirm this by requesting more information to ensure that the role truly exists. Similarly, job descriptions that are overblown in a desperate attempt to meet the skill level requirements may raise suspicions.

  • They Must Have a Higher Rate of Sponsorship Compliance Success

The Home Office may investigate if the applicant has highly-qualified HR managers, recruitment personnel, and other measures in place to ensure that the duties and responsibilities revolving around the award of a sponsor licence are observed. This can be done by physical inspection of the site, both before and after the sponsor license is approved.

  • They Must Be of Good Conduct and Moral Standings

This means that the business owner, directors, and other essential personnel must be dependable, honest, and reliable. For example, they must all be free of any unspent criminal convictions. The Home Office would also ensure that none of these workers poses a threat to immigration control or the UK economy at large.

3. Genuineness Test

Here, the Home Office Guidance requires that you provide reasons why you need a sponsor licence and foreign workers for the vacancies. If this could be done convincingly, you would fulfil the genuineness test. The genuineness test can be conducted at any point during the lifespan of your sponsor licence – while making the application, during an inspection for compliance, or when you put in for a Certificate of Sponsorship.

If the Home Office is not convinced of the genuine contractual arrangement, you may be requested to provide more information. The visa applicant can also be directed to further scrutiny, such as a physical interview or provision of additional details, often within a range of 28 days.

Do you need help with an immigration issue? Our lawyers can assist you.

Duties of Employers After obtaining the Sponsor Licence

An employment agency applying for a sponsor license must understand that the eventual attainment is a call to service. Some administrative duties must be observed, and the end goal here is to prevent illegal working.

1. Record Keeping

Any entity seeking to sponsor migrant workers must keep a proper record of the workers alongside their right-to-work status in the UK. According to Appendix D, the employment agency must retain copies of the Biometric Residence Permit, Passport, Contract of Employment, and other documents associated with immigration status. Failure to observe this duty can lead to enforcement action and monetary penalty.

2. Monitoring and Reporting

All the concerned employment agencies should have reliable processes and systems to check the sponsored workers within 10 days, especially when the migrant worker:

  • Is absent from work for 10 consecutive days;
  • Terminates the contract of employment earlier than expected;
  • Fails to show up at work as and when due.

3. Absence Monitoring

The sponsor must ensure that all the sponsored workers are allowed and recorded to be absent from work. This could be due to annual leave, sickness, overseas trips, or study leave.

4. Informing the Home Office of Sudden Changes

To sponsor workers in the UK, you must ensure that all workers covered by your sponsor licence remain under your watch, and any change must be reported to the UKVI through SMS. If your employment agency changes its premises, you must inform the Home Office of the changes.

How Can IAS Help You?

At the Immigration Advice Service, our team of experienced immigration experts is on hand to provide you with tailored advice and assistance. Whether you are a business looking to apply for a sponsorship licence or an individual seeking help with any other corporate immigration issue, we can guide you throughout your application process.

Our priority remains to ensure your organisation continues to remain compliant with UK immigration law. We have a wealth of resources and knowledge at hand to make sure that you are up-to-date on any relevant changes in the industry, allowing us to provide you with the best advice and assistance.
We understand how important it is for businesses to get their sponsorship application right, and we strive to ensure that the process is as stress-free as possible. From offering step-by-step guidance throughout the application to liaising with Home Office on your behalf, we will ensure that all your questions are answered, and your queries are addressed promptly.

Contact us today at 0333 305 9375 to find out how IAS can help you with your application for a sponsorship licence or other corporate immigration issues. Our team of professionals will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have and provide the necessary advice and assistance.

We can help you if you need help with your visa application or immigration case.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Once approved, a sponsor license is valid for four years. However, the employer must make an application for renewal as the expiry date of the old licence draws closer to prevent problems with the visa validity of the sponsored workers.

The application process takes about six weeks, but employment agencies should note that more time should be committed to preparing and submitting the relevant documents. However, there’s an option for premium processing where you pay an extra £500 to get a result on your application within 10 days.

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