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How To Sponsor Seasonal Workers: A Guide For Employers

You can hire seasonal workers from overseas to work for you if they meet the required eligibility criteria. However, they need a seasonal worker visa UK sponsorship to apply for a visa.

If you want to know how to sponsor seasonal workers from abroad or have any questions regarding visa sponsorship, contact us at +44 (0)333 305 9375 or message us online. We are available to answer your questions and guide you to get your desired overseas employee

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    Benefits of Choosing IAS for Your Sponsor Licence Needs

    Our dedicated UK corporate immigration lawyers deliver our services through a comprehensive and personalised approach suited to fit each business client that we work with.

    We can assist you in getting a UK Sponsor Licence, generating a certificate of sponsorship, and applying for a work visa for your employee. Whether this is your first application, your initial application was refused, or you were found to not be compliant in the past, we can help.

    With a successful track record, IAS eases the process for you so you can focus on other parts of your business. Here are more things you enjoy by working with us:

    Our lawyers will assess your Sponsor Licence case 1-1 to understand its unique aspects.

    We provide customised guidance for Sponsor Licence applications to increase chances of approval.

    We assist with maintaining compliance with the UK government’s rules for employing overseas workers.

    Our team offers detailed assistance in making any critical changes to the sponsor management system.

    Regardless of what your business immigration query might be, IAS is here to help and support you. Call us or enquire online to learn more about how we can help you.

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    UK Seasonal Worker Visa Sponsorship Overview

    The UK seasonal worker visa sponsorship permits UK employers to get hands-on employees from overseas to work for them on their farms. The seasonal worker scheme launched by the UK government served to tackle labour shortages in the UK.

    This seasonal worker route is under the temporary work sponsorship route.

    If you are a UK farm owner, you can employ workers from abroad to work on your farm temporarily. This visa sponsorship is for those well-versed in the horticulture sector and its related activities.

    As an employer, you can sponsor foreign nationals to plant or harvest flowers, vegetables or fruits for at most 6 months. The application in this category is open all year round.

    Employers can also sponsor foreign nationals who have experience managing poultry. You can only sponsor people from 2 October to 31 December in this seasonal worker scheme.

    Employer Requirements To Sponsor Seasonal Workers

    To sponsor seasonal workers to work for you in the UK, you need to meet some seasonal worker visa sponsorship UK eligibility criteria.

    Here they are below:

    Have Enough Funds to Pay the Seasonal Worker Skilled Worker

    It is essential that, as an employer, you assess your finances and ascertain that you can pay the seasonal worker(s) you want to employ from overseas. You must ensure you can pay the overseas worker the national minimum wage stipulated by the Home Office.

    Get Prospective Employees to Undergo Safety Checks

    Your prospective employees coming from overseas will need to undergo safety checks. This is to ensure that your employees won’t pose a threat to the UK. An example of a safety check is the enhanced DBS.

    Check if the Candidate is Suitable for the Role

    The sponsor is responsible for checking if the candidate they are employing is suitable for the role. The onus is on you as the employer to check if the candidate can do the work you are hiring them for.

    Hold a Valid Sponsor Licence

    Before getting anyone to come from overseas and work for you in the UK, you must have a valid sponsor licence. This licence permits and authorises you to employ people from abroad. If you do not have this licence, you must apply for it through the Home Office.

    Our immigration specialists can help you sponsor seasonal workers. Get in touch for help today.

    Applying for the Seasonal Sponsor Licence

    You must apply for a Temporary Worker Sponsor Licence to hire a seasonal worker. This licence gives you the right to employ overseas workers.

    Here are the steps to take to apply for a sponsor licence:

    Check Eligibility 

    The first step in this process is to ensure your business is eligible to employ seasonal workers from abroad.

    Register Your Company 

    The second step is ensuring your business is registered with the Home Office.

    Nominate Key Personnels

    The next thing to do is nominate key roles in your business. The role of these personnel is to manage sponsored employees. The Home Office requires that an arm of your establishment be dedicated to applying for a sponsor licence and managing sponsorship.

    Here are the key roles the Home Office expects your business to have:

    • The authorising officer will oversee everyone using the sponsor licence application platform. They are responsible for ensuring that the international seasonal workers being employed meet all eligibility requirements. In addition, they must also ensure that the business meets the employer requirements. It is mandated that the authorising officer be the most senior personnel in your establishment.
    • The key Contact officer acts as the bridge between your business and the Home Office. They must relay any news or directive from the Home Office to your company and vice versa.
    • The Level 1 officer is the employee in charge of the sponsorship management system (SMS).
    • If the Home Office approves your application for a temporary sponsor licence, you can add more level 1 or 2 users to the platform.

    Note that one person can perform all these roles. However, different persons can also take up the roles, but they must have been employees in your business.

    Applying for Sponsor Licence

    The Home Office accepts applications for sponsor licence through a platform known as the Sponsorship Management System. The authorising officer must access this platform and submit details about the business:

    • The kind of licence your company is applying for.
    • The details of the key contact officer in your establishment.
    • The organogram of the establishment.
    • The contact and address of your establishment.

    After submitting these details, the authorising officer must print and download the submission sheet attached beneath the application form. This form should be sent via email to the Home Office. The email address the officer is expected to send it to is written below the submission sheet.

    With this application form, you are expected to attach a receipt of your application fee payment and other supporting documents.

    Note that the application should be signed and submitted by the authorising officer.

    If you do not want to send your application via mail, you can send it by post.

    The address you should post it to is also written on the submission sheet.

    Your application to the Home Office must also bear the following details:

    • The industry your establishment is under.
    • The job description of the sponsored worker.
    • The contact of the authorising officer.
    • The wage you will pay the temporary worker. (This must meet the minimum wage rule set by the Home Office).
    • The particular role(s) you want to sponsor.
    • The organogram of the establishment showing the directors, managers and owner.
    • The position the employee will occupy in the establishment’s organogram.
    • The hours the employee is required to work. (This also has to meet the hourly rule set by the Home Office).
    • The education, skill or experience needed for the temporary worker to have.

    Documents Required for Sponsorship Application

    Here are the documents you need to submit to the Home Office when applying for a temporary sponsorship licence:

    • Insurance policy certificate that shows your establishment is insured.
    • Evidence that you are paying rent or that your premises belong to you.
    • Bank statement that shows your business turnover.
    • Audit account of the establishment for the immediate past financial year.
    • Evidence that your business has the proper registration and recognition in the UK.
    • Proof that you pay your taxes.

    If you are making your application by mail, you must ensure that your documents are in the correct format. The Home Office accepts only the following formats: PDF, JPEG and PNG. Any other format aside, these will be rejected.

    You must also name your documents correctly so that you do not confuse the official looking through your document. For example, if you want to attach your insurance policy certificate, name the document “insurance certificate.” It is essential that you embrace both clarity and brevity when you are naming your documents.

    Note that the title or name of your documents should not exceed 25 characters. The document should also be clear enough and legible.

    Your documents must be either in English or Welsh. You must submit them with a certified translation if they are in another language.

    If you need more clarity or guidance concerning the documents you should submit while applying, contact our immigration lawyers for assistance.

    Sponsorship Costs For Employers

    There are some fees that you have to pay to the Home Office when applying for a sponsor licence. Note that the sponsorship cost will depend on your business’s size or yearly turnover.

    Here is a breakdown of the fee you must pay depending on establishment size or turnover.

    Small Business

    • £536 for the sponsor licence application fee. If your business already has the sponsor licence for skilled workers, you do not need to pay this fee.
    • £182 as the immigration skill charge for 6 months.
    • £21 for any certificate of sponsorship (CoS) you issue.

    Big/Medium Business

    • £1,476 for the sponsor licence application fee. If your business already has a sponsor licence for skilled workers, you do not need to pay this fee.
    • £500 for the immigration skill charge for 6 months.
    • £21 for any certificate of sponsorship you issue.

    So, how can you determine if your business is small, medium or big according to the Home Office’s standards?

    Your business is small if at least 2 of the following conditions apply to your business:

    • Your company employs less than 50 persons.
    • Your business’ assets have never exceeded £5.1 million.
    • Your business’ yearly turnover has never exceeded £10.2 million.If your business does not fall into 2 of these 3 conditions, it is a medium-sized or big business.

    It will take the Home Office about 8 weeks to process your application and give you feedback. If the Home Office approves your request, you will get a valid licence for 4 years.

    Upon the expiration of the 4 years, you will apply for a renewal if you want to keep being a sponsor.

    An approval of your application means you have a licence “A” rating. This rating gives you the right to issue certificates of sponsorship (CoS).

    If you break the rules guiding sponsorships in the UK, the Home Office will drop your rating to a “B”. Employers and businesses with a “B” rating cannot sponsor anyone.

    Note that you cannot appeal the decision of the Home Office if your licence rating is downgraded. You will need to wait for 1 year to reapply.

    Contact our legal specialist team to help you legally recruit seasonal workers from overseas

    Employee Requirements And Criteria

    There are certain requirements that you must meet before you can apply for the seasonal worker visa. Here they are:


    You must show the Home Office that you are 18 or above by submitting your birth certificate.

    You Must Have a Valid Job Offer 

    Before you apply for a seasonal worker visa, you must have a valid job offer. Seasonal workers are needed to do horticultural work like plucking flowers and vegetables, picking fruits, or any other work one can do in an orchard.

    UK businesses can also need seasonal workers for poultry farms. However, note that you can only apply for a seasonal worker visa for poultry work if you are needed between 2 October and 31 December.

    You will not get a visa approval for this category if the poultry work does not occur within this time frame. The deadline for applying for seasonal worker visas in this category is 15 November.

    Note that you can stay in the UK on the seasonal worker visa for up to six months.

    You Need a Sponsor

    The following eligibility requirement is a valid job offer from a proper sponsor. Your employer must hold a valid sponsor licence and be able to issue you a certificate of sponsorship (CoS).

    You Have a Certificate of Sponsorship

    You can only apply for a seasonal worker visa if you have a certificate of sponsorship. This must contain details about your job, including how much you will be paid and how long you must work daily.

    The hours you are required to work daily or weekly and your salary must conform to the Home Office standards; otherwise, your application will be rejected.

    Also, note that you must apply for your visa within 3 months of getting the CoS. If you fail to do so, the CoS becomes invalid. And your employer will have to send a new one. You can apply for a visa as early as 3 months before your work is slated to start.

    Proof of Funds

    Another criterion for getting a seasonal worker visa is proof of funds. You must show the Home Office that you have enough money to care for yourself when you come to the UK. You typically prove this by showing you have held £1,270 for at least 28 days.

    Your employer can help you meet this requirement if they agree to pay you accommodation allowance. This must be explicitly stated in the CoS they’ll issue. Your employer can prove this by filling in the “sponsor certifies maintenance” part of the CoS right below “additional data”.

    Valid Passport 

    You need to have a valid passport. Validity here means the key extends beyond your stay in the UK. The ticket must also have an empty page with the visa attached.

    If you do not have a passport, you must show a travel document confirming your nationality and identity.

    Note that the Home Office reserves the right to request additional documents even after submitting these above.

    Again, you must get a certified translation if your documents are not in English or Welsh.

    Applying for a Seasonal Worker Visa

    To get a seasonal worker visa to the UK, you must apply online and submit all the supporting documents. You can use the checklist above to guide what you need to submit.

    Note that you must also pay an application fee of £259.

    You must submit your biometrics at a visa application centre close to you and then wait for a decision within 3 weeks.

    a skilled worker taking notes

    Criteria for Maintaining the Seasonal Worker Visa

    If you get a seasonal worker visa, there are criteria for maintaining your visa. Violating the terms would make the Home Office revoke your visa and have you removed.

    The first criterion is that you must ensure you work in the role described in the CoS. If you were designated to work in the poultry farm, it would be wrong if you were working in the horticultural field.

    You can also study in the UK but note that whatever course you are taking should not last for more than 6 months or the length approved for you to stay by the Home Office.

    You cannot take up a full-time job if you are on a seasonal worker visa. You are not also permitted to get another job besides the one you are doing.

    Seasonal worker visa holders are not entitled to public funds.

    Lastly, you cannot bring family members to the UK.

    If you give birth in the UK, you must apply for a dependent visa for your child immediately. You cannot leave and re-enter the UK if you do not do this.

    Before applying for the dependent visa for your child, you must first get a UK birth certificate which bears your name and the other parent’s name.

    Need help with your sponsor seasonal work visa? Allow our team to help you!

    Benefits Of Sponsoring Seasonal Workers

    Employers may not readily find those willing to work in horticulture and poultry in the UK. Thus, this is a means of getting people who can and are eager to do the work. It allows employers and businesses to hire from a vast talent pool worldwide.

    How IAS Can Help You Sponsor Seasonal Workers?

    We have an ever-ready team that can help you in your quest to sponsor seasonal workers. We can assist you in getting the sponsor licence from the Home Office and then guide you through getting an employee overseas.

    Our lawyers are experts in UK immigration and employment laws. So, we can assess your eligibility for the sponsor licence, ensuring you meet the requirements and guiding the authorising officer on how to apply correctly.

    We can also help your prospective employee apply for a visa without stress. We have assisted many employees and employers through this process and can assist you, too.

    If you need further information about the seasonal worker visa or any other kind of work visa, contact us at +44 (0)333 305 9375 or message us online.

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

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    A seasonal worker will earn a minimum of £10.42 per hour in the UK. This is the minimum wage set by the Home Office. Every employer must stick to this rule to avoid losing their licence

    The Home Office stipulates that each seasonal worker in the UK puts in at least 32 hours per week at their place of employment.

    You cannot extend your seasonal work visa. The longest you can stay on the visa is 6 months. It is also not possible for you to switch to another type of visa. Upon the expiration of your visa, you have to leave the UK. Even if an employer wants to hire you via the skilled worker route, you must leave the UK to apply.


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