It is imperative that licence holders understand sponsor duties and responsibilities because if compliance is not met, the Home Office can suspend or even revoke your Sponsor Licence.
Sponsor Licence Application
The companies who wish to employ foreign skilled workers for long term or temporary workers for short term must first apply for a sponsor licence with the UK Home Office. This applies to all non EEA nationals and those EU nationals coming to the UK from early 2021 and the organisations can apply for a Tier 2 and/or Tier 5 sponsor licence.
Sponsor Licence key eligibility requirements
In order to obtain a sponsor licence, the company will need to satisfy the following key requirements.
The company would need to provide a set of mandatory and optional documents along with required additional information to the Home Office to prove that they are genuinely and lawfully operating in the UK and are able to meet the sponsor obligations. The company is required to appoint an Authorising Officer, a Key contact and Level 1 user as part of the application to undertake sponsorship management, once the licence is granted. Upon application submission, the Home Office may conduct a premises audit to examine the current human resources and recruitment system in place and may interview the Authorising Officer. This premises visit by the Home Office compliance team may be announced or unannounced.
The sponsor licence application process normally takes upto 8 weeks and is granted with either an A rating or B rating for a period of 4 years. It is important that the sponsor licence application is prepared carefully, as there is no right of appeal if the licence application is refused. It is also possible that organisations may not be able to immediately re-apply due a cooling-off period imposed by the Home Office.
The UK educational institutions looking to enrol international students may apply for a Tier 4 sponsor licence, but must satisfy a different set of criteria.
How can we assist?
Our Immigration lawyers at City Legal have immense experience in assisting small businesses and multinational companies in sponsor licence matters including new applications, dealing with suspensions and revocations, HR & Compliance audits with action plans and training, sponsoring migrant workers as well as dealing with day to day sponsor licence obligations.
Our service extends to all aspects of sponsorship, including:
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
The UK government has recently announced that there will be a new points based skilled route from January 2021. It is not yet clear if this will definitely go ahead due to the Covid-19 pandemic, as the Immigration bill has not been passed by the UK parliament at the time of writing. Either way, the UK government is encouraging businesses to apply for a sponsor licence as soon as possible, if they wish to employ and sponsor foreign migrant workers including those from the EU after early 2021.
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.
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.
There is no legal requirement for organisations to use a lawyer for the sponsor licence application. The way the licence procedure is laid out, if the organisations make any mistakes, this may result in most cases a ban from further applying for a period of 6 months. The sponsor guidance is a lengthy document around 209 pages and appointing an Immigration lawyer that specialises in sponsor licence will save the organisations a huge amount of time going through guidance and preparing for the applications, and rather focus on their business. It will also give a further peace of mind that an expert is handling the matter and reduces the risk of a refusal.
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 May 2020 the Home Office fees for Tier 2 licence application for small or charitable business is £536 and for medium or large business is £1476. The fee for Tier 5 licence for all business sizes is £536. A small business is one with an annual turnover of £10.2 million or less and has 50 employees or fewer.
The Home Office takes the view that as employers benefit directly from sponsorship, they must play their part in ensuring the system is not abused.
From April 2017 employers face the payment of an Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) for sponsoring migrant workers.