A company will require a sponsor licence if they wish to employ workers from outside of the UK. We answer your frequently asked questions in this Sponsor Licence Application FAQ blog post and highlight some of the pitfalls to avoided.
What is a sponsor licence?
You may wish to recruit highly skilled individuals to work in a specific job role, in your business or company, under the Skilled Worker route. The Skilled Worker route replaced the Tier 2 (General) category on 1 December 2020 and applies to non-British citizens, and those who do not have a right to work in the United Kingdom (UK).
As an employer, you will require permission from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to hire individuals under the Skilled Worker route to undertake a role in an eligible skilled occupation. That permission will take the form of a valid sponsor licence.
Are there different types of sponsor licences?
The sponsor licence to be sought will depend on whether you wish to fill the job roles with:
- Long-term, permanent workers.
- Temporary or seasonal workers.
If you wish to recruit workers to fill job roles that are long-term and temporary, you can apply for a sponsor licence to cover both types of workers.
If you would like assistance with the Sponsor licence or Skilled Worker visa, or if you have any questions, contact us now at [email protected] or on +44 (0) 203 488 1061.
Who can be recruited under the sponsor licence?
The sponsor licence applies to employers wishing to recruit:
- European Economic Area (EEA) nationals who arrived in the UK after 11 pm on 31 December 2020.
- Non-EEA nationals who require or permission to enter the UK or remain on or after 1 December 2020.
The key here is whether the EEA nationals entered the UK after 11pm on 31 December 2020 (otherwise known by UKVI as the implementation period).
EEA nationals that entered the UK before 11pm on 31 December 2020 do not require sponsorship as they were exercising their freedom of movement. To solidify those rights, such EEA nationals must have applied for pre-settled status or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme on or before 30 June 2021. This applies to the EEA nationals qualifying family members.
As such, if you have employed EEA nationals or the qualifying family member of an EEA national, you may continue to do so without the need for a sponsor licence. If you are unsure, please contact us to seek clarification.
Do I need a sponsor licence to hire Irish nationals?
Although Ireland is part of the EEA, reference to EEA nationals include Swiss nationals. It does not include Irish nationals, as Irish citizens do not require permission to work in the UK. This is regardless of whether the Irish national entered the UK after 31 December 2020.
Therefore, you will not require a licence to hire Irish nationals.
How do I apply for the sponsor licence?
Applications for a sponsor licence are submitted online with specified documents being forwarded to UKVI by post.
The documents to be sent to UKVI by post are:
- the submission sheet at the end of the application.
- your supporting documents.
It is important to outline the reasons for applying for a sponsor licence within the application, as it will not be possible to make a speculative application for the sake of securing a licence.
Instead, you must tell UKVI about the vacant job role or new role that you wish recruit for, and for which you will be assigning the Certificate of Sponsorship. This includes details about:
- the job title and occupation code as listed in the Appendix Skilled Occupations.
- the duties that the job holder will be expected to perform once in the role. This will allow UKVI to assess whether the role is genuine and if it falls within the occupation code provided.
- where the job role sits within the hierarchy of the business.
- the minimum salary to be paid.
- The skills set, qualifications and experience needed to fulfil the duties of the role
In addition to details about the vacant role, you must provide details about your business and business sector. This is because UKVI will wish to understand the company’s structure and how the job role fits within it. For this reason, you must append a current organigram detailing the company ownership, board members and directors.
If the business has 50 employees or fewer, the names and job titles of each employee must be incorporated into the organogram.
One of the key reasons for the refusal of a sponsor licence application is the failure of the business organisation to submit the required information and documents. UKVI will assess whether the business is genuine and trading by reviewing the business’ financial dealings, employer’s liability insurance and details about the business premises, amongst other data. If in doubt about the documents to be submitted in support, we strongly recommend that you seek assistance with the sponsor licence application process at the earliest opportunity.
I have already identified someone for the role. Do I need to tell UKVI in the application?
If you have shortlisted or identified an individual to fill a vacant role that meets the requirements, as highlighted above, it is prudent to inform UKVI of this when making the application for a sponsor licence. We find that we are able to secure the licence by persuading UKVI of the business needs of the client.
If so, UKVI will consider how the business identified the individual so as to satisfy themselves of the genuineness of the application. If the person was found by way of the company’s recruitment process, you should include copies of job role advertisements, details of any applicants that applied and the reasons why the applicants were deemed unsuitable for the role.
If the individual already works for you, and you wish to recruit them without advertising the role, this need not be detrimental, though the intention should be declared. We have assisted clients that had employed Tier 5 Youth Mobility visa holders, and who wished to hire them on a permanent basis due to their skills set and knowledge of the business.
Information that you must include about an identified individual include:
- The person’s full name and date of birth.
- Details of their nationality, including if they have dual nationality.
- Their immigration status.
- They current job title and responsibilities.
- Details of their salary supported by their payslips covering the last 3 months, if applicable.
How long will the sponsor licence application take to process?
Applications for sponsor licences normally take up to 8 weeks to be processed by UKVI.
Can the application be fast-tracked?
It is possible to request the fast-track service for a premium. Sponsor licence applications will be processed within 10 working days.
I have a Tier 2 (General) sponsor licence. Do I need to apply for a sponsor licence?
If you hold a Tier 2 (General) sponsor licence, that was issued to the business before 1 December 2020, the sponsor licence will remain valid. UKVI will convert the Tier 2 (General) sponsor licence into a Skilled Worker sponsor licence.
That said, it is worth checking the expiry date of your Tier 2 (General) licence as it must be renewed if the expiry date falls within the next 90 days.
I have received the sponsor licence. When can I hire the recruit?
Once the A-rated sponsor licence is in place, you may immediately issue a Certificate of Sponsorship to the individual identified to fill the role (the applicant).
The individual may then apply for the Skilled Worker visa to take up employment with the company. UKVI will award 20 points of the requisite 70 points, towards the applicant’s visa application under the Skilled Worker route.
An additional 20 points will be awarded for a job role with the appropriate level of skill as listed in the Appendix Skilled Occupations.
Ten points will be awarded when the applicant demonstrates that they meet the English language skills on the Common European Framework of Reference for language at level B1 or higher.
A further 20 points will be awarded by UKVI for the proposed salary to be paid to the applicant for their role, and other factors such as their relevant academic qualifications, where applicable.
What are your sponsorship duties?
If you are granted a sponsor licence, you will be required to fulfil your sponsorship duties. This includes informing UKVI if:
- the Skilled Worker visa holder fails start their role.
- the Skilled Worker visa holder is absent from their role without/
- there are any significant changes to the nature of the visa holder’s employment duties or salary, or to your company.
What are the consequences of not complying with the sponsor licence duties?
If you are granted a licence, it is imperative that you comply with your sponsor duties. UKVI take this very seriously and may take the action against you such as:
- downgrading the sponsor licence rating.
- suspending your sponsor licence.
- Revoking your licence.
- Reporting you to the police or other relevant authorities.
Therefore, once the sponsor license application has been approved and you have issued the Certificate of Sponsorship, it can be sensible to retain the services of an immigration adviser to monitor and ensure that you are complying with your immigration obligations. We provide this service for many of our clients, which allows them to do what they are best at, serving their clients and customers.
We receive many questions about the sponsor licence application process, which we have sought to address in this blog post, together with some pointers about how to avoid common pitfalls. An assessment of your prospects of qualifying for a sponsor licence can be extremely beneficial. We also offer professional immigration assistance with preparing a sponsor licence application to help the process go as smoothly as possible.
Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration.
Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration assistance to individuals and families.
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If you have questions or concerns or you would like straightforward immigration advice, or help with applying for a sponsor licence, feel free to contact us.
Our processes are tried and tested and have proven successful. Yet, we know that each business has different requirements.
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