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What Are The Requirements For A Company To Sponsor An Immigrant?

As an employer, you’ll need a sponsor licence to finance an employee outside the UK borders to work in your company. And there are specific requirements you need to comply with to get one.

For more information about the sponsor licence, the relevant requirements, and any other related questions you may have, we’re here to help. Reach out to our professional immigration advisors on 0333 305 9375 or contact us online.

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Overview Of The Sponsor Licence A Company Needs To Sponsor An Immigrant

A sponsor licence permits UK-based organisations to sponsor skilled employees to work for them.

These workers can be residing in the UK or overseas.

They include immigrants who arrived after December 31st, 2020, from Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland, Switzerland, and the EU.

Also, those involved in charity work are covered by this licence.

Moreover, this licence can only be issued to organisations but not individuals.

For that reason, Home Offices will have to rely on the sponsorship authorities to ensure the proper use of the immigration system and prevent illegal working.

Even so, there are several categories of people that requires no sponsorship. They include the following:

  • British citizens
  • Irish citizens with limited exceptions
  • British overseas territories citizens
  • Commonwealth citizens possessing the right of abode and can prove that.
  • UK Ancestry route-permitted commonwealth citizens
  • Individuals with indefinite leave to remain or enter the UK
  • Swiss, EEA, or EU nationals or their eligible family members with unrestricted work rights.

The sponsor licence you obtain has a validity of four years, after which you can renew.

Also, you should keep in mind that the worker you sponsor may need a work visa to work for you.

What Are The Requirements For You To Obtain A Sponsor Licence In The UK?

You need to meet several qualification requirements to get a sponsor licence in the UK. Hence, you must keep the various essentials in check throughout your sponsor licence application journey.

Step 1: Business Eligibility Assessment Requirements

Your business must satisfy the relevant authority that it’s eligible for the sponsor licence application. Here’s how.

  • Your organisation must be based in the UK and trading or operating within the stipulated laws governing such businesses in the region.
  • If you’ve branches in different parts of the UK, you can have one licence covering all your entities. Alternatively, you can apply for the licences separately for every branch, personalised to their prevailing circumstances.
  • You must provide proof of monitoring/inspection registration with the relevant body if you’re expected to be under a statutory body’s watch. Such regulatory bodies ensure that you operate under the laid down policies in the UK.
  • A local planning authority consent or appropriate planning permission is also necessary. Hence, you may need to prove that you’re a holder of the same to operate your type of business at the given address.
  • The business must satisfy the Home Office that you can genuinely employ skilled workers and pay them the correct rates per the body’s specifications.

Note that by applying for the sponsor licence, you are committing yourself to all the sponsor duties of a holder of that licence. Although individuals aren’t eligible for the sponsorship, there are exemptions for those operating as sole traders and needing an employee for their businesses.

There seems to be too much to consider when you want to apply for a sponsor licence. Right? You don’t have to overstretch yourself! Reach out to us for professional and result-oriented services concerning immigration laws in the UK.

Step 2: Job Eligibility Evaluation Requirements

You will need to check if the job you wish to sponsor a worker for has the appropriate skill level and pay rate and meets all the other requirements required for the visa. The specific roles’ suitability varies depending on the route. The different routes guidance includes the following.

Skilled Worker

The skilled worker route allows you to sponsor people in a specific eligible skilled jobs in the UK.

Global Business Mobility Worker

In this category, you can acquire a sponsor licence for workers in five routes, including the following.

  1.  Service Supplier
    This route has overseas-based organisation employees assigned to provide contractual services in the UK under the UK’s international trade agreements.
    The assignment can be done by a self-employed independent professional or a business.
    It works similarly to the International Agreement route’s contractual service suppliers and independent professionals provisions.
  2. Graduate Trainee:
    The route includes the overseas business employees under a graduate training program to become specialists or senior managers.
    The individuals are required to work as interns in a linked UK business.
    The program is working in place of the former Intra-Company Graduate Trainee route.
  3. Secondment Worker
    Workers in this route include overseas business personnel seconded to the UK for high-value investments or contracts.
    It’s a substitution of the previous ‘Sponsor an Intra-Company worker’ recommendations.
  4. UK Expansion Worker
    Specialist employees or senior managers in this route come to the UK from an overseas business to establish their subsidiary or a UK branch. This replaces the Overseas Business route sole representative provisions.
  5. Senior or Specialist Worker
    This group entails specialist employees and managers assigned to work in a linked UK organisation by an overseas employer. The route replaces its Intra-Company Transfer visa.

Government Authorised Exchange (GAE) Worker

A GAE sponsor licence allows you to sponsor a worker on this route temporarily.

These individuals come to the UK for a short period through an approved exchange scheme.

Therefore, they engage in short-term assignments such as job training or shadowing, fellowship or research undertaking, overseas government language programme participation, or job experience.

The maximum period of stay for these workers is 1-2 years, depending on the individual’s sponsorship scheme.

Seasonal Worker

This sponsor licence is suitable for an approved scheme operator in the horticulture sector. It lets you sponsor overseas temporary workers for up to 6 months on the Seasonal Worker Immigration Route.

However, you must be endorsed by Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to be approved and obtain a licence from Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority.

International Agreement Worker

You can sponsor a worker to come to the UK temporarily under the International Agreement route. This category includes individuals who wish to provide services subject to the international laws in the UK. Such people serve as international organisations and overseas government employees or diplomatic household private servants.

Currently, the Global Business Mobility – Service Supplier route covers the independent professionals and contractual service suppliers provisions.

Charity Worker

As a charity organisation worker, you can sponsor a worker temporarily, on the Charity Worker route.

This route is suitable for workers who want to volunteer to offer unpaid services in charitable organisations in the UK. The maximum period of stay is one year.

Additional Requirements for Some Routes

Some routes demand that you take extra steps before you can sponsor a worker. Let’s see how.

Creative Worker

The sponsor licence permits you to sponsor an overseas worker on the Creative Worker route.

Nevertheless, you must ensure that the beneficially can make an incredible difference in the rich cultural life of the UK and the sponsoring company.

Sponsored workers engage in activities such as dancing, TV and film performance, opera and theatre performance, and modelling.

The initial time of stay is one year but can be extended up to two years, where the employees remain under the same employer.

However, as a sponsor licence holder, you must comply with the creative workers code of practice, or the job must be on the shortage occupations list. If none of the cases applies, check if there is an eligible worker who needs no sponsoring.
When sponsoring an under 16 creative worker, you must have a child performance licence.

Nonetheless, this applies in cases where they participate in paid public performances such as concerts, plays, and films or if they perform in licensed places. The licence is also necessary if the job involves cash-earning modelling assignments.

Furthermore, you must ensure that the under 16 worker sends their application at least 21 days before the due date.

Religious Worker

There are guidelines on religious workers’ temporary sponsorship by religious organisations on the Minister of Religion and Religious Worker immigration routes.

Eligible candidates for this route are those with a vital role in the religious order or faith-based organisation in the UK. These individuals support religious institutions’ activities.

Nevertheless, you’re required to prioritize settled religious workers’ applications first before sponsoring one by advertising the job offer. Also, you must record when there is no need for an advertisement. Additionally, you’ve to prove that there isn’t a suitable worker for the task from the settled people.

Even so, non-essential positions or employees living with a religious order are exempted from this requirement. The worker can serve for a maximum of two years.

International Sportsperson Visa Worker

If your wish to sponsor international sportsperson or coaches in the UK, you can do so on the Sportsperson immigration route. The individuals can be elite sportspersons or professional sports coaches. Additionally, these workers must be internationally established and can add significant value to UK sports development.

The additional requirement you need before you get a certificate of sponsorship is an endorsement letter from a relevant body.

Requirements for Sponsoring Individuals Under 18

You can sponsor under 18s from overseas but only on the following routes:

  • Government Authorised Exchange visa- no minimum age
  • Creative Worker visa- no age restrictions
  • International Sportsperson visa- 16 years minimum

Step 3: Licence Type Selection Requirements

Your choice of licence depends on the nature of the job for which you want to sponsor the worker. In this case, two types of sponsor licences are outlined below.

  • Workers Licence
  • Temporary Workers Licence

If you wish to sponsor the two categories of workers, you can apply for one licence to serve both purposes.

Worker Licence

The licence is available for short-term, long-term, or skilled employee sponsorship. The specific duration depends on the worker’s visa. With this licence, you can fund different types of skilled labor.
What’s more, this licence is available in four categories, including:

  • Skilled Worker
  • Minister of Religion
  • International Sportsperson
  • Global Business Mobility (Senior or Specialist Worker visa)

Temporary Workers Licence

This sponsorship licence is issued to sponsors of specific types of temporary employees. Also, it covers job shadowing and volunteers.
The licence is classified into:

  • Global Business Mobility
  • Seasonal Worker
  • International Agreement
  • Government Authorised Exchange
  • Religious Worker
  • Charity Worker
  • Creative Worker

Moreover, you can apply for a Seasonal Worker visa and use it to sponsor pork butchery employees for a period not exceeding six months.

Step 4: Sponsorship Management Appointment Requirement

Choose competent personnel with your organisation to ensure the sponsorship process is up and running upon a successful application. The sponsorship management system (SMS) is a reliable tool you can have for the proper management of this process.

This team should include:

  • Key contact person: The individual serves as the link between UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) department and your company.
  • Organising Officer: A high-ranking and professional employee overseeing the SMS user representatives and the staff conduct.
  • Level 1 user: Manages your licence through SMS on a daily basis.

Note that you can have one person executing all the tasks or different employees for the three roles.

Also, you can select a level 2 user once you obtain the licence. However, the worker should have more restricted access than the level 1 user. For instance, the person should have no access to the certificate of sponsorship withdrawal.

What’s A Certificate Of Sponsorship (CoS)?

A CoS is an electronic document issued to the worker by the sponsoring employer to facilitate visa application and onboarding into the company. It’s generated by the SMS after the licence is processed. Licenced sponsors must assign this certificate to all their migrant workers.

As the sponsoring company, you should request this certificate from Home Office and send it to your potential migrant employee. It generates a unique reference number the individual uses in the visa application process.
There are two types of CoS: defined COS and undefined CoS.

Defined Certificate of Sponsorship

A defined CoS is issued by the Home Office to sponsor licence holders on a case-by-case basis. The employers will, in turn, issue the certificate to their migrant applicants for their entry clearance into the UK as Skilled Workers

After identifying the worker you’d like to sponsor, you can apply for this document on the SMS. It only takes one working day if there aren’t any additional details needed.

This certificate replaces the former restricted CoS, which required you to submit your request on the 5th and receive the response o 11th of that month. Also, the annual maximum number of defined CoS has been scraped.

Undefined Certificate of Sponsorship

An undefined CoS is suitable for workers residing within the UK borders. These individuals are either switching to the Skilled Worker visa or applying to a different visa route. Whichever the case, they must do so within the UK.

When making your sponsor licence application, remember to submit your request for this certificate. The deadline for application for the undefined certificate is the 5th of April every year.

Luckily, you can request several certificates before the deadline if you intend to extend an existing worker’s leave in the near future. You may also do so if you’ve identified a potential candidate you wish to sponsor and need an undefined sponsorship certificate.

Also, if you need more undefined CoS within the year or you missed the deadline, you can request for addition through the CoS platform. However, you need to convince the Home Office that you sincerely need it.

Sponsorship Management Team Suitability Checks

You and the staff you appoint for your sponsorship management must undergo a compliance audit to check whether you qualify for those roles.

You may fail to get a sponsor licence due to:

  • A UKVI fine charged in the past one year.
  • A pending UKVI report filed against you.
  • Failure to pay exercise duties like VAT.
  • You being a holder of a revoked licence, in the past year.
  • An unspent criminal conviction resulting from the guidance for sponsor offence.

Also, you and the select team must:

  • Spend most of your time in the UK.
  • Not have sponsor requirement non-compliance history
  • Not a victim of bankruptcy restriction undertakings/orders or debt relief undertakings/orders.

When appointing the HR contractors and agency staff, ensure that one level 1 user is your staff member.

You can appoint UK-based representatives in any role except the organising office. The representative must be experts who can provide immigration services and advice.

For such services, we’ve got you covered. Contact our leading immigration specialists for professional services.

Step 5: Licence Application Requirements

You must apply for the licence online, and once you’re done with the online application, send in the FINAL STAGE SUBMISSION SHEET with your SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS.

What Documents Do You Need For Your Sponsor Licence Application?

There’s an extensive list of documents you need to support your sponsor licence application. Nevertheless, the documents you need to send depend on whether your business is an SME, franchise, start-up, or public body.
The most common documents you’re required to submit include the following:

  • A VAT registration certificate
  • An up-to-date bank statement of your business.
  • Rent agreement, lease of business premises, or ownership evidence.
  • HMRC (PAYE and Accounts office reference number) registration proof.
  • A £5 million minimum employer’s liability insurance from an approved insurer.
  • Currently audited (a must-have for audited account obliged companies) or unaudited accounts.
  • Monitoring/inspection registration proof if your business is required to operate under a solicitors regulation authority.

If your documents include a statutory declaration or an affidavit, they must have a qualified, independent person’s attestation. These individuals can include the Commissioner for Oaths, Justice of the Peace, Notary Public, or a solicitor. A Councillor can also be a witness in Scotland.

How Do You Make Your Submission?

You make your submission by taking photos or scanning your supporting documents and the submission sheet and sending them to the provided email address on the sheet. Your files should:

  • Be of high quality for proper readability.
  • Have 25 or fewer characters descriptive titles.
  • Be in PNG, JPEG, or PDF format.

Furthermore, in case your submissions aren’t in Welsh or English, a certified translation must accompany them.

Also, if you’ve challenges scanning and emailing your documents, reach out to the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) through the details on the submission sheet. Alternatively, you can contact us for fast application support and advice.

Is There A Chargeable Sponsor Licence Application Fee?

Yes, there is a chargeable sponsor licence application fee when you apply for a sponsor licence. The payable amount varies depending on your company’s type and the licence you need. Below is the breakdown of the cost of the various licence categories.

License TypeSmall/ Charitable Sponsors Feemedium/Large Sponsors Fee
Worker£536£1,476
Temporary Worker£536£536
£536£ 1,476
Worker Licence addition to Temporary Worker LicenceN/A£940
Temporary Worker Licence addition to Worker LicenceN/AN/A

You are a small or charitable sponsor if your organisation at least two out of the three features listed below.

  • Your staff is 50 or below in total.
  • If you have £5.1 million or less worth of assets
  • £10.2 million or less is your turnover.

An essential requirement for this sponsorship qualification is the registration of your business. Hence, you must be a registered charity in Wales, England, Northern Ireland, or Scotland.

You’re also eligible for this licence if you’re an excepted or exempted charity, or a charity-oriented ecclesiastical corporation.
If it isn’t clear where your company lies, reach out to our dedicated immigration experts for advice.

Do you need help with sponsoring an immigrant? Our lawyers can assist you.

What Is The Application Processing Time Frame?

The application processing time frame is 8 weeks or less. The period is enough for the UKVI to visit your premises and conduct a compliance audit if need be. Thankfully, you can shorten the processing time to 10 working days by paying £500.

However, only a few applications can be processed under this service each working day, and the allocation is on a first-come-first-served basis.

Moreover, if you think your application was rejected due to a mistake, you can request a review. Even so, that can only apply where your documents weren’t considered or if your caseworker erred in the application process.

Your Duties as a Sponsor?

Not only do you have to provide financial support, but you must also ensure that all your employees are working legally in the UK and pay tax on their earnings.

You must also ensure that any migrant workers who are sponsored by you will have the relevant work permit and visa before they start work. You are required to inform both UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and HMRC of any changes in the status of your sponsored employees. If you do not comply with these requirements, your licence could be revoked.

You must also check that your employees have valid leave to remain in the UK and inform the Home Office if they do not. If an employee is found working without permission or working for another employer, then you can be fined or even disqualified from the sponsor management system and sponsoring future migrants.

How can IAS help?

There’s an endless list of requirements for a company to sponsor an immigrant in the UK. In every step of your sponsor licence application journey, there are essential conditions you need to meet for your application to go through. Failure to do so will get your application off the grid!

Luckily, IAS is here to maximise your chances of getting a sponsor licence.

We’re the leading immigration specialists in the UK offering professional advice and services you may need. If you have any queries related to migrant sponsoring in the UK, we’re here to assist you.

For more information about our services and how we can come in for your rescue, reach out to us at 0333 305 9375 or online.

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