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Business Immigration

Sponsor Licence Application

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Sponsor Licence Application

Companies in the UK must have a valid sponsor licence in order to employ all skilled workers who do not have the right to work in the UK, including EEA and Swiss nationals and their family members, if they have not been granted settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

The Home Office has published new guidance for sponsor licence applications. This reflects changes made to UK immigration rules in December 2020, notably, the replacement of the Tier 2 (General) visa route for sponsored employment with the new Skilled Worker visa route.

Since the announcement of the Skilled Worker route, we at City Legal have also been assisting clients in obtaining a Skilled Worker sponsor licence (formerly Tier 2 General) to prepare them for the UK’s exit from the European Union. We can help you too. 

We are committed to not only assist you in your application for a sponsor licence but also to achieve long-standing compliance with all Home Office requirements. Despite the Home Office becoming increasingly strict about compliance, we continue to be successful in developing compliance procedures for sponsor licence holders.

We offer peace of mind, assurance and a better outcome by providing complete hand-holding support. We offer service to all aspects of sponsorship.

UK Sponsor Licence Application

Typically, sponsor licences fall under the categories of a Worker Licence and Temporary Worker Licence. The type of job the organisation is hiring for will determine which sponsor licence the employer needs to apply for.

Organisations will need to fulfil a number of duties and obligations as the employer of a foreign worker, both before and during the employment. First, 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.

An employer can complete a sponsor licence application to sponsor either regular workers or temporary workers. The licence which the employer needs depends on the nature of work the employee will be doing. If the employer's sponsor licence application is accepted, the employer must assign a Certificate of Sponsorship to each foreign worker.

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. To make sure that your application is successful, you can seek the assistance of City Legal. 

Sponsor Licence Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible to apply for a sponsor licence, your organisation must have a UK presence and be operating or trading lawfully in the UK. If you have multiple UK branches you may apply for one licence to cover all your linked UK entities – alternatively, you might apply for separate licences for each branch, depending on your circumstances.

If you are required to be registered with or inspected/monitored by a statutory body to operate lawfully in the UK, you will need to submit proof that you (and any branches covered by the licence) are registered with the appropriate body. You may also need to supply evidence that you hold the appropriate planning permission or local planning authority consent to run your class of business at your trading address.

The Home Office must be satisfied that you are able to offer genuine employment in a skilled occupation and that you will pay the correct rate of salary, as specified by the Home Office.

As part of your licence application, you are agreeing to accept all of the duties associated with being a sponsor licence holder. You should be able to carry out an adequate assessment of the overall profile of any identified migrants, ensuring that they are a competent person for the role assigned 

Private individuals are not normally eligible to be recognised as sponsors, but an exception applies if the individual is a sole trader who wishes to sponsor someone to work in their business.

You should also be able to allocate a suitable role and pay a suitable rate in compliance with the codes of practice set out by the Home Office and evidence HR and/or recruitment systems in place to comply with strict reporting duties on sponsors

We have an in-depth understanding of Sponsor Licence applications and are professional and results-focused. For assistance with any UK immigration law concerns contact us. We’re here to help!

Sponsor Licence Suitability Checks

You and your allocated staff will be checked to make sure you’re suitable for these roles. You may not get your licence if anyone involved in sponsorship has:

  • An unspent criminal conviction
  • Been fined by UKVI in the past 12 months
  • Been reported to UKVI
  • Broken the law
  • Been a ‘key person’ at a sponsor that had its licence revoked in the last 12 months
  • Failed to pay VAT or other excise duty

You and your allocated staff must also:

  • Be based in the UK most of the time
  • Not be a contractor or consultant contracted for a specific project
  • Not be subject to a bankruptcy restriction order or undertaking, or a debt relief restriction order or undertaking
  • Not have a history of non-compliance with sponsor requirements
What are the Required Documents for a Sponsor Licence Application?

To support your case, you will need to send certain supporting documents. In most cases, you will need to provide at least four documents. The specific required documents vary depending on the nature of your business and the vacancy you are filling.

All documentation needs to be provided within five working days of the online application. The documents should be in their original form. However, the Home Office might accept certified documents.

The required document list is extensive and will depend on whether you are representing a public body, start-up, franchise or SME. Some easy to obtain documents may include:

  • Latest business bank statement.
  • Employer’s liability insurance of at least £5 million from an authorised insurer.
  • Certificate of VAT registration.
  • Evidence of registration as an employer with HMRC – i.e. PAYE and Accounts Office Reference Number.
  • Proof of ownership or lease of business premises or rent agreement.
  • Latest audited or unaudited accounts (audited accounts are mandatory if your company is legally obliged to file audited accounts).
  • If you are required to be registered with and/or inspected/monitored by a regulatory body to operate lawfully in the UK, evidence of your registration.

If you are applying for the Intra-Company Transfer sponsor licence subcategory, you will also be required to submit evidence of common ownership between the company in the UK and the company overseas.

There are several types of sponsor licence and each type of licence will require different supporting documents to be submitted. Provided the requirements are met and the correct evidence is submitted, it is possible to apply for multiple subcategories of sponsor licence at the same time.

At City Legal we have dealt with countless sponsor licence applications of all persuasions. With our sponsor licence guidance, we can ascertain which documents you need to include in your sponsor licence application. Call us now on for more information.

What are Certificates of sponsorship?

A Certificate of sponsorship (CoS) is an electronic document generated on the Sponsor Management System (SMS) after a licence is granted.

In order to sponsor a migrant worker, the company must first request a Certificate of sponsorship from the Home Office through the SMS. Once this is granted, the company will need to assign it to the migrant worker they intend to sponsor to generate a unique reference number for the candidate to submit during their visa application.

The advantages of a sponsor licence (formerly Tier 2 sponsor licence)

Once an organisation acquires a sponsor licence, they become registered with the Home Office as a sponsor and can begin to issue Certificates of sponsorship (CoS) to skilled non-UK staff subject to meeting the requirements.

For many companies, being able to hire overseas skilled worker is essential to the successful operation and growth of their business. This ability is vital especially with the end of freedom of movement following the UK’s departure from the EU, meaning that a significant portion of the UK workforce would require sponsorship from January 2021 if they failed to secure their status in the UK before the deadline.

At City legal, we have extensive experience of helping companies acquire and maintain their Skilled Worker sponsor licences.

How much does a sponsor licence application cost?

The fee for a sponsor licence depends on the size and type of organisation. This application fee is payable every time the sponsor renews their licence (every four years). Fees are usually reviewed annually by the Home Office which publishes them on its website.

Organisations classified as “medium” and “large” are required to pay a sponsor licence fee of £1,476. This fee would apply to all organisations which do not meet the definition of a “small” sponsor.

An organisation would normally qualify as a small sponsor if two of the following apply:

  • your annual turnover is £10.2 million or less
  • your total assets are worth £5.1 million or less
  • you have 50 employees or fewer

Registered Charities are also considered to be “small” sponsors.

Organisations classified as “small” sponsors are required to pay a sponsor licence fee of £536.

Steps to obtain a sponsor licence

To obtain a sponsor licence, UK employers need to follow the below steps:

  • Check your business is eligible, i.e. can you provide the specified documents to show your company is genuine and actively trading in the UK?
  • Choose the type of licence you need.
  • Decide who will manage sponsorship within your business. This person is also known as the Authorising Officer. Usually, this person is the most senior person responsible for recruitment within the company, which can be a company director or an HR manager. Upon the grant of the licence, the Authorising Officer will be responsible for overseeing the SMS and ensuring the sponsorship duties are complied with. You will also need to appoint a level 1 user. This is the person with access to the SMS (sponsor management system) and does not necessarily need to be the Authorising Officer. This person will be responsible for reporting any changes within your organisation as well as requesting and assigning CoS to migrant workers on the SMS. The first level 1 user must be an employee or an office holder of the organisation. However, once the licence is granted, the level 1 user will be able to request for additional level 1 users such as legal representatives to be added.
  • Apply online and pay the fee. The application fees differ depending on the size of your organisation as defined under the Companies Act 2006. If you are a charitable or small organisation, the sponsor licence application fee is £536. If you are a medium or large organisation, the fee is £1476.

Call our experienced team today and discuss how we can make the sponsor licence application simple for you 

Assisting a skilled worker you've sponsored with their home office application

Once you have become a sponsor and are able to recruit skilled workers from outside of the UK we would highly recommend that you assist the skilled worked with their visa application. You can imagine the soft benefits that would give your organisation in terms of employee morale, first impression and engagement which could translate to higher productivity however there are other reasons as well why you would benefit from assisting the skilled worker with their application. 

The process can be complex, time consuming, very paper heavy and results in a lot of employees making mistakes. This is the same if the skilled worker is currently in the UK and switching visa or they are making the application from outside the UK. Once you've issued a CoS ( Certificate of Sponsorship) ideally they have to then make an application to the home office. You assistance can help with avoiding mistakes, making the process stress free and ensuring the application is made on time with the correct fees being paid.

An error made by them could potentially impact your business plans with not having the skilled worker in the place and time you want them to be. 

Our team can help with this as as well ensuring your employee's skilled worker application process is handled without any stress on your business and the employee. If you hire many employees on a regular basis speak to us about our retainer services as this can save you a lot of cost and you can get priority assistance with your requirements.

Why do you need professional immigration lawyers?

You can save time and effort which in itself should be good enough reason to employ the professionals however more importantly we can help in avoiding very costly mistakes as well. If you are doing this yourself and don't fully know the  in's and out of the application process or the compliance process in addition to financial implications you may even lose your job. We've seen this happen many times and we know how to avoid them. You can continue focusing on your business outcomes while we take care of the entire sponsor licence process for you, assist with sorting out skilled worker applications for your employee and even manage the various ongoing commitments you will have as a sponsor

What makes us different?

We are experienced. Having handled hundreds of applications and getting the visas approved makes us an ideal partner for your firm. We've delighted all our clients and gone the extra mile always to ensure the entire process is hassle free for them. Many sectors are currently facing shortage of talent to recruit and it's vital for any ambitious organisation to have this ability. We can help you with this without making any costly mistakes. We work on fixed fee basis with no hidden cost and we pride ourselves at being extremely transparent. We are committed to the core. Once you've trusted us with your requirements we do not rest until you are entirely satisfied. Contact us today and let us tell you how we are the right choice for you. 

Legal Representatives & Sponsorship Licence

It is common practice for businesses to appoint professional immigration lawyers to carry out the paperwork required for an application to obtain a valid licence. The benefits of doing so are clear; however, it is important that businesses are aware of restrictions that apply in terms of representation to avoid failure. Our specialists can assist sponsor licence applicants to:

  • Understand the licensing process and identify the appropriate licence type to sponsor migrant workers and/or students;
  • Provide specific advice on eligibility requirements, compliance duties and required action plan to ensure the application's success;
  • Provide UK employers with Business & HR consultancy services to ensure sponsor licence applicants are granted within the right level for sponsorship;
  • Conduct Mock HR audits with the Key Personnel in preparation for UKVI compliance visits and provide detailed advice on how to issue certificates of sponsorship and operate sponsorship management systems;
  • Prepare Organisation and Authorising officer any Home Office Compliance Inspections as part of the licence application process
  • Assist the organisation in making the sponsor licence application online and work with the authorising officer to submit this in an efficient and timely manner;
  • Preparing a compelling business case evidencing that the applying business is a genuine organisation and explaining the organisation's need for a sponsor licence.
Getting Started

We are a multi award winning law firm and pride ourselves in being approachable, innovative and always going that extra mile to make sure our clients receive the individual attention they deserve. We have the privilege of working with some of the most well-known companies in the world. Our Immigration team maintains a high reputation and is committed to provide clear, transparent and reliable advice to our clients. Call us today and let our team explain how we can take your application forward. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to get sponsorship licence?

Most applications (8 out of 10) are dealt with in less than 8 weeks. UKVI may need to visit your business for compliance inspection and that may add a further delay. UKVI has introduced a new priority service where you may be able to pay £500 to get a decision within 10 working days. This service is limited to 10 applications per day and hence may prove extremely difficult to get

What can I do if my sponsor licence application is unsuccessful?

If the sponsor licence application is refused, the organisation will be given written reasons for the same. The organisation may re-apply immediately, if there has not been any reasons that may trigger a cooling off period. The cooling off period may be 6 months or 12 months and depends on the basis of refusal reasons. We may be able to assist organisations if the decision has been made as a result of a case working error; however a full reconsideration is not possible. The organisations may however challenge the decision by the way of a Judicial Review.

Can I hire both foreign workers outside the UK and from within the UK?

It is possible for organisations to recruit any foreign workers, immaterial of their location. Different processes apply for those who are overseas and seeking to enter the UK as opposed to those who are in the UK and eligible to be sponsored. Our corporate immigration team will be happy to assist the organisations in determining the right route and strategy for the licence application and/or employee’s skilled work visa application.

Do I need to advertise the vacant position I intend to sponsor?

Skilled worker visa applications after 1st Dec 2020 are not required to advertise the vacant positions however you must still retain evidence of any recruitment activity you have undertaken. If you did not advertise the role, you must be able to explain how you recruited the worker. This information will help home office establish, where necessary, that the role is a genuine vacancy.

How do I submit the supporting documents?

Following COVID-19 Pandemic, the Sponsor Licence Application Team has now changed its guidance to enable the prospective sponsor to submit all supporting documents via email. This service allows for the authorising officer to use a digital signature on the submission sheet. All documents must now be submitted within five working days from the submission of the online application form.

What is the Home Office fee for sponsor licence applications?

The Home office fees for a Sponsor licence application depends on the size of the organisation and type of the licence. At the time of writing, in Aug 2021 the Home Office fees for Sponsor licence application for small or charitable business is £536 and for medium or large business is £1476. A small business is one with an annual turnover of £10.2 million or less and has 50 employees or fewer.
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