- What Is a Sponsor Licence?
- Routes to Sponsor Workers
- Eligibility Requirements for a Sponsor Licence
- Sponsor Licence Documentation Requirements
- Are Original Copies of Documentation Required for the Sponsor Licence Application?
- Key Personnel for the Licence Application
- Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
- How to Submit an Online Sponsor Licence Application
- Sponsor Licence Application Fee
- How Can IAS Help?
What Is a Sponsor Licence?
A sponsor licence (formerly called Tier 2 sponsor licence) permits UK employers to hire skilled workers from EU and non-EEA countries or within the UK (when applicants switch from other visa routes into the Skilled Worker route).
An approved sponsor licence application is valid for four years with a renewal option. To kick-start the application process, you will need to fill the online application form on the Home Office website. Get ready to provide evidence supporting your eligibility to obtain the licence by proving you meet the sponsorship licence application requirements.
Eligibility Requirements for a Sponsor Licence
Only organisations can obtain a valid sponsor licence in the UK. Private individuals cannot obtain the licence except if they operate a sole-proprietorship. To meet the suitability criteria for a licence application, your business or organisation must be legally operational in the UK.
UK employers operating virtually may also apply for a sponsor licence, but they must be able to verify their ability to perform their sponsor duties and obligations. By applying for a sponsor licence as a UK employer, you are accepting all sponsor licence holder responsibilities towards the intending visa applicant.
One skilled worker sponsor licence may cover all your UK entities if you run many branches but your situation may require obtaining a sponsor licence for each branch of your business.
In some cases, the sponsor licence requirement includes registering with or getting approval from a regulatory body to legally operate in the UK. You will need to provide proof of compliance to proceed with your licence application.
Fortunately, the Resident Labour Market Test now makes it possible to apply for a licence before having a candidate or job title in mind. UKVI is willing to consider any UK employer who meets the eligibility and suitability criteria.
Sponsor licence applicants who are interested in the pre-licence priority service must first complete the UKVI registration which will grant them access to the log-in page to complete the online sponsor licence application form. This opportunity is not available for sponsor licence applications that have been assigned to caseworkers.
The Home Office may conduct pre-licence visits if they have any reasons to be concerned about the evidence you provide or know little about you. Among other things, they must be able to confirm that you are offering genuine employment. The visit may be conducted with your authorising officer if you operate a virtual model or have little physical presence.
Sponsor Licence Documentation Requirements
Appendix A by the Home Office is the sponsor guidance on the mandatory documents for all sponsor licence application process including UK expansion worker route. In most instances, you are required to provide a minimum of 4 documents or a combination of 4 documents where stated.
The specific document you will submit depends on the entity you are representing which may be a start-up, SME, franchise or a public body. Exceptions to these requirements exist for companies that are listed on the London Stock Exchange major market and any public body already recognised by the UK government in the corporate report.
Documents for Specific Bodies and Organisations
|Type of Organisation||Documents Required|
|Public bodies not recognised by the U.K. government|
Documents for Start-Ups, Franchises, Charities and Organisations
|Type of Organisation||Documents Required|
|Businesses requiring a statutory body registration, inspection or monitoring, such as nursing/care homes and other businesses, financial or insurance businesses and healthcare and medical providers|
Documents for Route-Specific Documents
|Government Authorised Exchange|
|T2 (Minister of Religion)|
|GBM: Senior or Specialist Worker|
|GBM: Graduate Trainee|
|GBM: UK Expansion Worker|
|GBM: Secondment Worker|
Table 4 Other Required Documents
Are Original Copies of Documentation Required for the Sponsor Licence Application?
Proof of registration and evidence of registration documentations issued by HMRC must be original or certified copies. However documents can now be emailed to the Home Office and the sponsor licence application process can be initiated online. This has created a long-term change to the procedures for licence applications.
Once a foreigner meets the required skill level, experience and qualification, they can become sponsored workers. There are two main routes to employ skilled workers that are foreign nationals; the worker routes and the temporary worker routes.
The Worker Routes
Skilled worker visa route: The minimum requirement for skilled worker sponsor licence is level 3 on the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) for the UK and Northern Ireland. Its equivalence is the A-Levels for other countries according to the new Skilled Worker route which replaced the previous Tier 2 (General) route.
Global Business Mobility: Formerly known as the Intra-Company Transfer route, it involves senior managers or specialist foreign workers in multinational companies who are available for job openings that cannot be filled by the settled or EEA workers.
Minister of Religion (Tier 2): It refers to foreigners who have a job offer for an opening in a faith-based community as a minister to engage in pastoral activities, preach, function as missionary or belong as a member of a religious order.
International Sportsperson: They are reputable foreigners who have received job offers as elite sportspersons or coaches in the country. Their contribution would further benefit UK sports at the highest level.
The Temporary Worker Routes
Charity worker: Sponsor licence holders can sponsor a foreigner for voluntary work with a non-profit organisation. The validity period for this immigration route is one year maximum.
Creative worker: This is the route for creatives who want to work in the UK as an artist, musician, dancer, entertainer, or a fashion model. Its validity period is at most, 12 months, but there can be an extension by 12 months for the same sponsor.
Global Business Mobility (GBM) routes: Some updates were made on the UK immigration rules for sponsors of temporary workers following this route as follows:
- Graduate trainee – formerly Intra-Company Graduate Trainee route
- UK Expansion Worker – replacement for the unsponsored Sole Representative provisions of the Representative of an Overseas Business
- Service Supplier – replacement for the provisions for contractual service suppliers and independent professionals on the International Agreement route
- Secondment Worker – A new immigration route for sponsored workers working in the UK temporarily as part of a high-value contract or investment by their overseas employer
Other temporary routes include government authorised exchange, international agreement, religious worker, scale-up (also a new route) and seasonal worker.
Key Personnel for the Licence Application
Appointing key personnel within your organisation to liaise with the Home Office is among the sponsor licence requirements. The appointees should be resident in the UK and pass Home Office’s character and background checks. The main roles include:
- Authorising officer – The most important role that should be overseen by a senior employee within the HR department
- Key contact – This person becomes the first point of contact with the Home Office and is best suited for a legal representative.
- Level 1 user – Manages the licence through the sponsorship management system (SMS) online portal.
- Level 2 user – Has access to the sponsor management system but fewer permissions than level 1 users
Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
The Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is a confirmation issued by the UK employer to their migrant worker. It is a reference number to indicate that the supporting documents and other necessary requirements have been met. Certificate of Sponsorship exists in two forms:
Applicable when the skilled worker visa applicant lives outside the UK and will also apply for entry clearance.
Applicable for migrant workers already in the UK who are applying for a skilled worker visa to remain in the UK.
How to Submit an Online Sponsor Licence Application
While the application form must be submitted by the authorising officer using the submission sheet, your legal representative should supervise the entire process to ensure compliance. The submission sheet and other supporting documents must be sent to the Home Office by email within five working days.
Sponsor Licence Application Fee
The sponsor licence fee depends on the type and size of your organisation and is as follows:
|Type of Licence||Fee for Small Organisations||Fee for Medium or Large Organisations|
|Worker and Temporary Worker||£536||£1,476|
|Adding a Worker license to an existing Temporary Worker license||–||£940|
|Adding a Temporary Worker license to an existing Worker license||–||–|
How can IAS Help
The introduction of the new points-based system has enlarged the scope of migrant workers that can be sponsored to work in the UK. With this possibility, you need to secure your access to the best talent in your field.
Whether you need a skilled worker or a temporary worker, you want to be sure you meet the eligibility requirement, suitability criteria and submit the right documentation to clear your path to become a sponsor.
Last modified on September 7th, 2023 at 1:39 pm
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