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Sponsorship Licences

Sponsor Licence Application

UK employers who wish to hire foreign workers must apply for a Sponsor Licence.

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Sponsor Licence Application

A Sponsorship Licence application is a necessary part of the process of employing certain foreign workers. If you intend to hire anyone from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) you must apply for a Sponsor Licence, including if you are a small business or charity.

There are certain employer Sponsorship Licence requirements you must meet before you can make an application. Before you can make a Tier 5 or Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence application, 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. This is called the ‘genuine business test’. Once this has been arranged, you can apply for a Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence. You can make this application online or by post – the whole process usually takes around three months in full. Once you have applied, UKVI will review your application and supporting evidence to ensure you meet the requirements for a Sponsor Licence. As part of this review, they may choose to visit your business site and meet all personnel who intend to be involved in the overseas recruitment process.

Sponsor Licence Application Help

The Sponsor Licence application process can be complex, and many employers are unsure of where to begin, particularly when it comes to assigning representative roles. As part of our service, you will be assigned a lawyer who specialises in corporate immigration law and who can closely guide you through each stage of your Sponsor Licence application process. Your lawyer will work with all company representatives, meeting with you in person, or through conference call or Skype, depending on what suits you. They will prepare you for the ‘genuine business test’ by organising your documents into a comprehensive application portfolio and writing a Letter of Representation on your behalf. Call us on 0333 363 8577 or make an enquiry to arrange your first consultation.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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 Tier 2 general skilled workers & relgious workers and Tier 5 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 Tier 2 only, £536 for Tier 5 only, and £536 – £1,476 for both.

The Home Office Sponsor Licence application fees are as follows:

For small businesses & charities:

  • Tier 2 – £536
  • Tier 5 – £536
  • Tier 2 & Tier 5 – £536
  • Adding Tier 2 to an existing Tier 5 – free
  • Adding Tier 5 to an existing Tier 2 – free

For medium & large businesses

  • Tier 2 – £1476
  • Tier 5 – £536
  • Tier 2 & Tier 5 – £1476
  • Adding Tier 2 to an existing Tier 5 £940
  • Adding Tier 5 to an existing Tier 2 – 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 Tier 5 or Tier 2 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 EEA.

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 EEA or Switzerland 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 EEA or Switzerland who is working in the UK using:

Depending on which type of worker you wish to employ, you need to make a Sponsor Licence application which is relevant to them.

The Tier 2 Work Visa is also the required route for ministers of religion and elite sportspeople.

If you are intending on transferring an employee from a foreign office to the UK, you will also need a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence.

You do not need to apply for a Sponsorship Licence if you are intending to employ someone on a Tier 1 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 tier (2 or 5) which you intend to employ foriegn 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 suspensionSponsor 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.

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;
  • advise you on the Resident Labour Market Test;
  • 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.