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Sponsor Licence Processing Time

If you are sponsoring workers from outside the UK, it’s essential to understand how long it takes to process sponsor licence applications. This information can be helpful in your recruitment plan.

For more information on sponsor licence applications, including how to apply and how you can fast-track your application, call us today on 0333 305 9375 or contact us online.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Sponsor Licence?

It usually takes less than 8 weeks from the date of submission for the Home Office to process a sponsor licence application. However, delays can occur, such as issues with the documentation submitted during the application, which might make the process take longer.

It’s important to consider the time involved in obtaining a sponsor licence, as it can impact your recruitment process. If there are delays with obtaining your licence, you may not be able to hire your candidate on time and might risk losing them to another employer.

Sponsor licence applications also face the risk of being refused or rejected. This situation will require an affected organisation to begin the application process again, leading to more expenses and further delays than anticipated in obtaining the sponsorship licence.

Therefore, preparing your application correctly is advisable to give your organisation the best chance of obtaining its sponsor licence on time.

The estimated time of 8 weeks is the standard service processing time. If this period is too long for your business to wait, you might be able to use the pre-priority service or fast-track option to get your licence within 10 days.

Factors Influencing the Application Process

Certain factors affect the sponsor licence application process and may cause a delay in the processing time. Some of these factors include the following:

Changes in the Home Office Processing Status

Although the standard time to process sponsor licence applications is 8 weeks, the processing time at the Home Office may change for different reasons. One common reason is a surge in applications.

Under the UK’s new immigration system, UK-based companies are now required to hold sponsor licences to hire EEA workers, and EEA workers are required to hold visas, like a Skilled Worker visa, to work in the UK.

As a result, there has been a surge in work visas and sponsor licence applications.

Asides from Brexit, the labour shortage across several sectors in the UK has led to more organisations seeking migrant workers, meaning more sponsor licence applications need to be processed quickly.

Quality of Information Submitted

Sponsor licence applications have specific requirements that are complex. Not following these requirements is a common reason for a delayed application.

For instance, sponsors must appoint key personnel to manage the Sponsor Management System (SMS)  and provide the Home Office with this information when applying for a licence.

Following the specified requirements and submitting the data gives the Home Office the necessary information to decide on an application on time.

Complexity of Application

Depending on the structure of your organisation and the nature of your application, you may be required to submit certain documentation.

For instance, for a Skilled Worker sponsor licence application, there is extra information listed on the government website that you must provide. Also, if you’re applying under the Secondment Worker route, you must show evidence that you have a total contract worth at least £50 million.

This will require more documentation to be assessed, which might lead to a longer processing time if the information is not provided to the Home Office on time.

Pre-sponsor Licence Compliance Visit

Sometimes, the Home Office conducts compliance visits or audits before granting a sponsorship licence. These inspections allow them to see the business premises and assess if they have the appropriate systems and policies to comply with sponsor licence duties.

Processing of sponsor licence applications might take a long time if the Home Office decides to conduct a compliance visit. However, you can minimise your chances of being subject to a visit by ensuring your application submission complies with sponsor licence requirements.

Pre-licence Priority Service For Sponsor Licence Application

The Home Office introduced the pre-licence priority service as part of several reforms to help expedite the sponsor licence processing time.

Under the priority service, sponsor licence applicants can request a fast-tracked decision by paying £500 in addition to the standard sponsor licence fee, and their application will be processed within ten working days.

UK employers that have already identified their candidates can take advantage of the fast-track service to speed up end-to-end processing, receive their sponsor licence on time, and start assigning Certificates of Sponsorship.

This could help prevent any disruptions to their business arising from vacant positions not being filled on time.

Who can Use the Pre-licence Priority Service?

The pre-licence priority service is limited to a small number of applications every working day. A maximum of 30 slots are allocated each day based on a first come, first serve basis in the order in which the applications arrive.

To be eligible for the priority service, you must have submitted a valid sponsor licence application by completing the UKVI ‘online sponsor application registration.’ Then you’ll be able to assess the ‘Sponsor application log in’ page, where you must complete the online application form and submit specified documents to prove you are eligible and suitable.

Be aware that employees looking to sponsor skilled workers on the Global Business Mobility and Scale-up visa routes are not yet eligible for the pre-licence priority service.

Get in touch with our expert immigration lawyers to receive assistance on your Sponsor Licence Application Processing.

How to Apply for the Priority Service

When the Home Office accepts your sponsor licence application, you will receive an email offering you the opportunity to apply for the priority service. You can choose to take up this offer by sending an email to [email protected].

The email should contain your completed priority service request form, electronically signed submission sheet, and other relevant documents.

The priority service is open from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays. As such, requests made outside these hours will not be considered.

It’s important to submit your request on time because if your application is already in progress or assigned to a caseworker, you will not be able to use this service.

What Happens After Applying?

If your pre-licence priority application is successful, you will receive:

  • An email from the priority service team notifying you that your request has been accepted, along with further instructions.
  • A second email containing a payment link

You will have 72 hours (including weekends) from receiving the second email to pay the relevant fee. If the Home Office doesn’t receive your payment within that time, your priority request will expire, and you will have to apply for the service again to be considered.

However, if you do not receive a response after applying, you should assume that your application was not successful. Some reasons why your request was unsuccessful may include the following:

  • Your request is not eligible for the priority service
  • The Home Office has reached its daily allocation limit
  • You submitted a priority request outside operating hours.

Pre-licence Priority Service Processing Time

Your requests will be considered within ten working days if you have successfully paid for the priority service. The 10-working day period will begin when the Home Office receives your submission sheet, supporting documents, and payment.

If your request is complex or extra assessments are required, you may not receive an outcome within the 10 working days period. The Home Office will email the authorising officer listed on your application, notifying them of the situation.

If you are required to provide more information within the 10-working day period, and you do not, your application may be refused, and no refund will be issued. However, if your application is delayed for certain reasons, for instance, technical errors, you may receive a refund.

Irrespective of the Home Office’s decision, the authorising officer will receive an email notifying them of any new situation that arises from the application.

Applying for the pre-licence priority service does not guarantee that your application will be considered. Similarly, receiving an acceptance email after applying does not guarantee that your request will be approved.

If you have any questions about your Sponsor Licence Application Processing, our team is happy to assist.

Getting Your Application Right the First Time

Many sponsor licence applications are delayed and even rejected for not following the specified application requirements. This can happen irrespective of whether a sponsor uses the standard or the priority service.

However, you can improve your chances of receiving your sponsor licence approval without lengthy delays if you comply with the sponsor licence requirements. Here are some steps you can take to improve your chances of a successful outcome:

Check That Your Business is Eligible

To apply for a sponsor licence, your business must be eligible to hire foreign workers, and you must meet all the requirements for sponsorship.

To be eligible, you must not have any unspent criminal convictions against you. These could include immigration offences and fraud or issues with money laundering.

Similarly, the key personnel you appoint to manage the Sponsorship Management System must not have any unspent criminal conviction against them. Except you’re applying under the UK Expansion Worker route, the key personnel must be based in the UK.

You will also be required to have the appropriate systems in place to monitor sponsored workers and meet your sponsorship duties.

Apply for The Right Type of Licence

Employers must be aware of which sponsor licence to apply for as it may have an impact on the kind of roles for which the organisation can hire a migrant worker. The two types of sponsorship licence are:

  • Worker licence: for skilled or long-term employment
  • Temporary worker licence: for certain kinds of temporary employment

The type of licence you should apply for will be based on your organisation’s needs, such as the type of skills you need to hire.

Appoint Appropriate Key Personnel

As part of your application, you will be required to appoint key personnel to manage your systems through the Sponsorship Management System. These key personnel include:

  • Authorising officer: This must be a senior person responsible for the staff and ensuring compliance with sponsorship duties.
  • Key contact: This person is responsible for communicating with the UKVI when required.
  • Level 1 user: They will handle the daily management of the Sponsor Management System.

Your key personnel should be trained to handle their duties and ensure compliance with sponsorship responsibilities.

Check Your HR Systems and Processes

The Home Office might decide to conduct a site audit before granting you a sponsor licence.

This process involves checking your HR systems, policies, structures and documents to ensure you have the ability to hire foreign workers and meet up with the duties of a sponsor licence holder.

It’s advisable to assess your HR structure before making your licence application to ensure your organisation is compliant in the 

If you have any questions about your Sponsor Licence Application Processing, our team is happy to assist.

Submit an Application

You will need to apply online for the sponsor licence application. You must send supporting documentation and the signed submission sheet within a few days of completing the online application form and paying the relevant fees.

However, before beginning your online sponsor licence application, it’s best to have all the necessary documents ready. Submitting the documents quickly with your online application can help you avoid delays in processing your application.

Ensure That Your Information is Accurate

An application submitted with ambiguous and incorrect information may prompt the Home Office to request further information from you, causing delays in the process. It can also result in a refusal of your sponsorship licence.

Ensure that every information you provide during your application is correct and up to date. It can help you avoid needless delays.

Apply for the Priority Service

If you receive an offer to apply for the priority service, you might want to take advantage of it to expedite your application process.

To increase your chances of receiving your sponsor licence on time, make the application as soon as you receive the email and follow all instructions regarding documentation carefully. Also, ensure to pay the service fee within the 72-hour timeframe.

It’s advisable that your authorising officer check their email regularly, including spam or junk folder, so as not to miss the email with the payment link. Otherwise, you might lose the opportunity to use the priority service the first time around.

Provide all Additional Information Within the Allocated Timeframes

Sometimes, after applying for the priority service, the Home Office may request further information via email to support your application. A failure to provide the required information can lead to a delay or refusal of your application.

To prevent such issues, you must ensure again that your authorising officer checks their email regularly, including spam or junk folder, to always keep up with new notifications. Also, ensure to provide the Home Office with any additional information requested on time.

How Can IAS Help You?

Our lawyers at IAS are experts in UK immigration law and understand the complexity of sponsor licence applications.

If you choose IAS, you will have one of the best immigration lawyers working on your case until you achieve your desired results. Your dedicated adviser will guide you through the application processes and help you prepare the right documents to ensure there are no unwanted delays.

If you need to meet a strict-time frame with your sponsor licence application, your lawyer can help you increase your chances of being accepted on the priority service.

For more information on how we can help you, call us on 0333 305 9375 or contact us online today.

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

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