- Is my business eligible for a Sponsor Licence?
- What are the different types of sponsor licences?
- What is the Sponsor Licence application form and what are the fees?
- What are the Sponsorship Management Roles?
- Required Documents for a Sponsor Licence application
- Sponsor Licence ratings
- What are my responsibilities as an employer?
- Sponsor licence application rejected
- Frequently asked questions
UK Sponsor Licence Application
UK employers need to complete a sponsor licence application if they want to employ a skilled worker from overseas.
Typically, sponsor licences fall under the categories of a Worker Licence and Temporary Worker Licence. The type of job the organisation is hiring for will determine which sponsor licence the employer needs to apply for.
Organisations will need to fulfil a number of duties and obligations as the employer of a foreign worker, both before and during the employment. First, you must decide which company member(s) will be representing the company. Any members who represent you must be an executive/senior member of the company and not a shareholder.
As part of the application process, you will be required to prove that you are a legitimate business which needs the use of migrant talent. To make sure that your application is successful, you can seek the assistance of IAS. Call us on 0333 305 3612 to speak with our team.
Sponsor Licence Eligibility Requirements?
To be eligible for a sponsor licence, the employer must:
- Not have any unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences and other crimes such as fraud
- Have no history of failing to carry out sponsorship duties
The sponsor licence application process is complex and requires the employer to provide detailed information on their organisation.
Under the UK’s new immigration system, sponsors are no longer required to conduct a Resident Labour Market test but the Home Office may still expect the employer to provide sufficient evidence to prove that the employment of the foreign worker is necessary.
An employer can complete a sponsor licence application to sponsor either regular workers or temporary workers. The licence which the employer needs depends on the nature of work the employee will be doing.
If the employer’s sponsor licence application is accepted, the employer must assign a Certificate of Sponsorship to each foreign worker.
The organisation is obligated to fulfil a number of other duties and responsibilities as the employer of an overseas worker.
Types of Sponsor Licences
Worker Sponsor Licenses
The Skilled Worker Visa is for long-term skilled workers who have the right to work for at least three years, and usually five. Within the Skilled Worker Visa there are sub categories which include:
- Sportsperson Visa
- Minister of Religion Visa (Employees can work for up to three years under this subcategory)
- Senior or Specialist Worker Visa
Temporary Worker Sponsor Licenses
The Temporary Worker Visa is for skilled workers who will undertake temporary employment. The Temporary Worker Visa is divided into these subcategories:
- Creative Worker. Up to two years for eligible creative workers
- International Sportsperson. Up to 1 year for sportsperson, up to two years for an entertainer or artist
- Charity worker. Up to 1 year
- Religious worker. Up to 2 years
- International agreement worker. When work will be carried out which is covered by international law
- Government Authorised Exchange
How much does a sponsor licence application cost?
The employer will need to complete the Appendix A sponsor licence form for a sponsor licence application.
The fee for the application depends on the size of the organisation, as set out in the table below.
|Licence||Small or charitable sponsor fee||Medium or large sponsor fee|
|Worker and Temporary Worker||£536||£1,476|
|Worker added to existing Temporary Worker||£0||£940|
|Temporary Worker added to existing Worker||£0||£0|
What are the Sponsorship Management Roles?
You will need to appoint people within your business to manage the sponsorship process when you apply for a licence. The sponsor licence operations will be conducted via the sponsorship management system (SMS).
The specific roles which need to be filled are:
- The key contact. They will act as the main point of contact with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)
- Authorising officer. They must be a senior person. They will be responsible for the actions of the staff and representatives
- Level 1 user. This person will be responsible for the day-to-day management of the licence
These roles can be carried out by just one person if necessary. At least one level 1 user must be an employee of the company. However, other level 1 and level 2 users can be employed from third-party organisations.
Every person who works within the sponsorship process will need to undergo certain checks, which will include an analysis of any unspent criminal convictions and whether the person has been reported to the UKVI.
What are the Required Documents for a Sponsor Licence Application?
To support your case, you will need to send certain supporting documents. In most cases, you will need to provide at least four documents. The specific required documents vary depending on the nature of your business and the vacancy you are filling.
For example, if you are completing a Sponsor Licence application for a Skilled Worker Visa or Temporary Worker (Creative Worker Visa), you will need to include a document highlighting the endorsement from a governing body of the sport.
All documentation needs to be provided within five working days of the online application. The documents should be in their original form. However, the Home Office might accept certified documents.
The IAS have dealt with countless sponsor licence applications of all persuasions. With our sponsor licence guidance, we can ascertain which documents you need to include in your sponsor licence application. Call us now on 0333 305 9375 for more information.
What is the Sponsor Licence rating?
If your application is approved, your business will receive an A-rated licence and will be listed in the register of sponsors.
If you do not meet your duties as a sponsor, your licence could be downgraded to a B rating. In this situation, the UKVI will provide you with an action plan which you will need to follow to upgrade your licence back to an A-rating. The action plan costs £1,476.
You will not be able to issue new certificates of sponsorship until you prove that you have made improvements and upgraded back to the A-rating.
Your Responsibilities as a Sponsor
There are many responsibilities which an employer of an overseas worker needs to fulfil, both before and during the employment.
As an employer, you must:
- Ensure that your foreign workers have the necessary skills and qualifications for the role, with documents to prove this
- Only assign Certificates of Sponsorship to workers when the job is suitable for sponsorship
- Inform the UKVI if your employee is not complying with the conditions and terms of the visa
Sponsor licence application rejected
It can be a frustrating experience to have a sponsor licence application rejected. The most common reasons why an application might be rejected include the following reasons:
- Inaccurate or misleading documents
- Incomplete application
- The company has had a previous sponsor licence revoked
- The company has failed to furnish additional requested information within the given time limit
Companies are advised to avoid having their sponsor licence application refused wherever possible because the application fee is not refunded and companies are unable to re-apply until a cooling-down period has passed.
The length of time will depend on why the application was refused. Most companies will be unable to reapply until at least six months from the date of the refusal letter.
If your sponsor licence application is rejected, you do not have the right to appeal the decision. You may be able to request an administrative review of the decision, but this does not guarantee that the decision will be reversed.
The best way to prevent a rejection is to work with a qualified immigration solicitor to submit the strongest possible application, and in so doing, ensure that you can save time and money.
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There are several Sponsorship Licence requirements that you need to meet if you are an employer looking to find out how to get a Sponsor Licence and employ foreign workers.
How to get a Sponsor Licence for your business:
- Check that your business is eligible: to be eligible staff members must not have any history of immigration offences, crimes or past failure to meet sponsorship duties
- Decide the type of licence you require: this is determined by the type of worker you want to sponsor (this includes skilled workers & relgious workers and temporary workers in creative, sport, youth mobility and governmental exchange)
- Nominate the employees that will be responsible for managing your business’ sponsorship: these can’t be shareholders and they must be senior members of the company. You will need to choose at least two members to use the Sponsorship Management System (SMS)
- Apply online and pay the Home Office fee: this varies depending on the type of visa you want to sponsor and the size of your business — £536- £1,476 for Skilled Worker only, £536 for Temporary Worker only, and £536 – £1,476 for both.
The Home Office Sponsor Licence application fees are as follows:
For small businesses & charities:
- Skilled Worker – £536
- Temporary Worker – £536
- Skilled Worker & Temporary Worker– £536
- Adding Skilled Worker to an existing Temporary Worker – free
- Adding Temporary Worker to an existing Skilled Worker – free
For medium & large businesses
- Skilled Worker – £1476
- Temporary Worker – £536
- Skilled Worker & Temporary Worker – £1476
- Adding Skilled Worker to an existing Temporary Worker £940
- Adding Temporary Worker to an existing Skilled Worker – free
To qualify as a small business, you must:
- Have an annual turnover of £10.2 million maximum
- Employ 50 employees maximum
A Sponsor Licence number is a unique reference number or code which is issued to Sponsor Licence holders.
If you are a Skilled Worker or Temporary Worker employee, you can find your employer’s Sponsor Licence number on your Certificate of Sponsorship.
You need a Sponsor Licence before you can make a job offer to anyone from outside of the UK.
To be eligible you must meet the following criteria:
- You can prove you are a legitimate business
- You can ensure your sponsored employee(s) passes a personality test
- You can prove a skilled worker from outside the UK is needed for the position
- You do not have any unspent criminal convictions
- You do not have a history of failing to carry out sponsorship duties
- You can pay the appropriate rate of pay for the job(s) you are conducting.
You will need to prove that you have a legitimate business or organisation and that you have a genuine need for the migrant worker(s) you intend to employ. The Home Office may validate this by visiting your company during your application.
You will need a Sponsor Licence if you want to employ anyone from outside of the United Kingdom who is working in the UK using:
- a Skilled Worker Visa; or
- a Temporary Work Visa.
Depending on which type of worker you wish to employ, you need to make a Sponsor Licence application which is relevant to them.
If you are intending on transferring an employee from a foreign office to the UK, you will also need a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence.
You do not need to apply for a Sponsorship Licence if you are intending to employ someone on a business visa, for example, an Exceptional Talent Visa.
Please note that Tier 3 Unskilled Worker Visas have been suspended. This means that you cannot apply for a Sponsor Licence for non-EEA nationals taking on unskilled roles.
To make an application for a Sponsor Licence, you need to meet the requirements for sponsorship as an employer.
Below are the employer Sponsor Licence requirements at a glance:
- You need to be a genuine organisation or business, or a sole-trader
- You need to be legally operating from within the UK
- Your company or any of its key personell cannot pose any sort of threat to UK immigration control and there must be no evidence of this (for example, if any staff member has a history of immigration violations)
- You must be able to nominate at least three members of your staff to fulfill the roles laid out on the SMS
- You must be able to keep up-to-date and organised HR systems and records
- You must be able to produce all the documents required for your Sponsor Licence application
- You must meet other Sponsorship Licence requirements according to the specific category which you intend to employ foreign workers under
If your application is successful, you will be awarded a licence rating by the Home Office and placed on the UK Sponsorship Licence register.
After this, you will be able to issue Certificates of Sponsorship to any non-EEA or Swiss nationals if you have jobs that are suitable for sponsorship.
Upon the date of issue, your licence will be valid for four years. If you do not adhere to your duties as a sponsor, you could face Sponsor Licence suspension, Sponsor Licence revocation, or the possibility of receiving a Civil Penalty from the Home Office.
There are number of reasons why the Home Office refuse Sponsor Licence applications and Sponsor Licence renewals each year. The most common reasons include:
- the business’ failure to pass the Home Office’s Compliance Audit;
- the business’ failure to retain sufficient documentation on sponsored migrant workers;
- the business has not informed the Home Office of significant changes to their migrant workforce;
- the business has not responded to the Home Office’s enquiries on time;
- the business does not pass its ‘genuineness test’; or
- the business does not comply with the Home Office’s security standards.
If there are any significant changes to your organisation, you must inform the UKVI within 20 working days. Your sponsor licence could be affected if you fail to inform the UKVI of changes to your organisation.
Significant changes might include:
- Business has become insolvent or stopped trading
- Nature of business has changed substantially
- Involved in a merger or take-over
If your business moves premises or allocated roles change, you must also inform the UKVI. These changes can be amended on the SMS system.
A Sponsor Licence lasts for 4 years and it is possible to extend the licence if the sponsor meets the eligibility requirements. After four years, the sponsor must renew their licence if they wish to continue employing non-UK workers.
The Home Office will issue automatic notifications to organisations to remind them that the licence needs to be renewed. However, it is the responsibility of the business to ensure that they comply with all deadlines.
Sponsors can access all the information relating to the length of their licence in their sponsorship management system (SMS) account.
To renew a Sponsor Licence after four years, the sponsor should submit an application via the SMS and pay the required fee. Organisations can apply to renew their Sponsor Licence no sooner than three months in advance of the expiry date.
It is not recommended to let your Sponsor Licence expire without renewing it. The immigration status of your employees will be at risk, and there be disruption to your business’s operations if the licence expires and you continue to employ non-UK workers. The Home Office may take enforcement action against individuals who do not hold the correct immigration permission.
It is crucial that an appropriate person in the business regularly monitors the SMS to ensure that the organisation is meeting all its regulatory requirements.
IAS have some of the best immigration lawyers in the UK who are happy to assist you through the process of making a Sponsor Licence application. We will:
- ensure that your business is eligible to obtain a Sponsor Licence;
- ensure that you have all the required up-to-date employee records and HR documents;
- ensure that all time-frames are met;
- correspond with the Home Office on your behalf;
- prepare you for a visit with Home Office officials;
- make sure your business is compliant with all Home Office standards; and
- complete your application to the highest standard before submitting.
At IAS, we offer a tailor-made Sponsor Licence Application Package which encompasses these services. We also offer general Immigration Consultancy services, which are designed to assess and improve a UK company’s HR methods. With this, we provide an Immigration Audit, which allows our advisers to locate and resolve any issues or gaps in your records of sponsored employees. Contact us now by using our online form or calling 0333 363 8577 for more information.