Importance of a Sponsor Licence
A sponsor licence permits a UK-based business to employ skilled overseas workers to work for their company. It is essential to obtain a sponsor licence from the Home Office if you are looking at sponsoring an international employee within your organisation.
After EU free movement ceased in the UK, a change to UK immigration rules meant it was made essential that all EU and non-EU skilled migrant workers looking to work in the UK must be sponsored by a licenced employee with the relevant sponsor licence. To do so, the employer must submit a sponsor licence application to the home office.
It is important to note that sponsoring somebody with your sponsor licence does not guarantee that they will be granted a Skilled Worker Visa to work for you in the UK. This decision will come from the Home Office and not the sponsor licence holder. The sponsor licence simply allows you to allocate a certificate of sponsorship to each foreign national you wish to employ.
After you have sent off your sponsor licence application, if and when a sponsor licence is granted to an organisation, it is the responsibility of the company to ensure that sponsor licence duties are being met at all times.
Am I eligible for a sponsor licence?
In order to submit a sponsor licence application and to be granted a sponsor licence, you must be able to meet the following eligibility criteria set out by the Home Office:
- You must have no unspent criminal offences for immigration breaches or any other crimes such as fraud and money laundering
- You need to have appropriate systems in place to monitor your sponsored employees and the bodies that manage your sponsor license in the organisation
It is essential to ensure these criteria are met prior to submitting a sponsor license application to the Home Office. Sponsor licence holders must be prepared for UK Visa and Immigration to make a compliance visit work premises to ensure that requirements for the sponsor license are met to a satisfactory level.
What type of sponsor licence do I need?
As an organisation, the type of job you are hiring for will determine the type of sponsor licence your organisation needs to acquire from the Home Office. Typically, there are two categories of sponsor licence which include the worker licence and temporary worker licence.
Regardless of what type of sponsor licence you require, you must demonstrate your intentions of providing genuine employment to migrant workers that meet the minimum salary thresholds. You must specify which type of sponsor licence you need within your sponsor licence application.
Worker sponsor licence
The sponsor licence allows UK employers to hire skilled workers for short-term or long-term work. Usually, those with a skilled worker visa can work in the UK for a minimum of three years. The skilled worker sponsor licence is further split into the following categories:
- Sportsperson visa
- Skilled worker visa
- Minister of religion visa- for those coming to work for a religious organisation
- Senior or specialist worker visa- formerly known as intra-company transfer visa
Temporary worker sponsor licence
A temporary worker sponsor license allows organisations to employ overseas workers on a temporary basis- typically for voluntary workers or those participating in job-shadowing. There are several sponsor licence categories which determine which type of temporary worker you are;
- Charity worker (up to one year)
- Creative worker- including but not limited to artists and entertainers (up to two years)
- Religious workers (up to two years)
- Government Authorised Exchange- work placement (up to one year)
- Seasonal worker-e.g. fruit picking (up to six months)
You will need to determine which type of sponsor licence you need before proceeding to submit your sponsor licence application with supporting documents and application fee. A lawyer trained in the immigration system can assist you should you have difficulty. They will have ample experience in the sponsor licence application protocol.
Sponsor licence requirements
Obtaining a sponsor licence from the Home Office comes with strict responsibilities that must be followed at all times. These sponsor license responsibilities are as follows:
- You must check that the foreign nationals you are employing are competent and have the necessary qualifications to carry out their job. You must keep supporting documents as proof of this.
- Only assign a certificate of sponsorship if the job is suitable for sponsorship
- You must notify UK immigration and visas should your sponsored employees not be complying with the conditions of their visa or the sponsor licence.
- You must have HR systems in place to ensure that you can monitor your sponsored employees’ immigration status, passport and other documents and their attendance.
- You should notify the Home office if any changes are made to your business in any way
- You must retain sufficient documentation to prove your workers have the right to work in the UK in accordance to the immigration system
Should you fail to comply with the sponsor licence guidelines set out by the Home Office, you could face having your sponsor licence revoked or downgraded. By submitting a sponsor licence application, you are agreeing to these rules. A trained legal representative can advise you further on the terms.
UK immigration and visa reserve the right to undertake a compliance visit at the UK employers’ business premises to ensure sponsor licence requirements are being met.
How can I get a sponsor licence?
A sponsor licence application must be made online. In order for your sponsor licence application to be considered by the Home Office, it needs to be submitted with the required supporting documents and a covering letter outlining the company’s background and desire for a sponsor licence, also payment of the sponsor licence application fee. Home Office guidance states that the sponsor licence application must be submitted by the sponsor. A key contact from the organisation applying for the sponsor licence must also be supplied to the Home Office.
The sponsor licence supporting documents to accompany your sponsor licence application can be sent via the email given on the application form.
Those submitting a sponsor licence application can expect to hear back from the Home Office in up to eight weeks. Once granted you can begin to sponsor skilled workers.
Please note that the application fee may vary based on the type of sponsor licence you are applying for.
If the status of your application is ‘sponsor licence application refused’ based on a mistake in your application, you can request a review. However, you cannot do so just because you don’t agree with the Home Office decision to decline your sponsor licence application.
How can IAS help?
At IAS we have a team of professional immigration lawyers who can help you acquire a sponsor licence. We have years of experience in assisting clients with UK Visas sponsor licence application. Our lawyers can even deal with the Home Office on your behalf. To make the sponsor licence application process as easy as possible, consider contacting an IAS lawyer today.
If you meet the eligibility criteria and you require further assistance from a legal representative in being granted a sponsor licence for your organisation, get in touch with our friendly team on 0333 305 3779.
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