Sponsorship License

Obtaining a Sponsor Licence

As a business that wishes to employ skilled workers from outside the EU, you must first apply for a Sponsor Licence. Once you have successfully obtained a Sponsor Licence you are then able to offer a job to non-EEA nationals before they can apply to come to or switch into the Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa category. You will require a Sponsor Licence even if it is top employ workers for unpaid or charity work.

Requirements of a Sponsor Licence

In order to qualify for a Sponsor Licence, you will need to demonstrate that:

·     You are a genuine business operating lawfully within the UK

·     You can prove a skilled worker from outside the EEA or Switzerland is needed for the position

·     You have a legitimate business or organisation and that you have a genuine need for the migrant worker(s) you intend to employ. The Home Office may validate this by visiting your company during your application.

·     You can offer genuine employment that meets the Tier 2 skill level and appropriate rate of pay for the job(s) you are offering.

·     You are capable of carrying out your sponsorship duties

The exact requirements and documents you will require in support of your application will very depending on the type of organisation you are and the tiers under which you wish to sponsor the migrant worker.

 UKVI will assess how effective your current human resources and recruitment systems are in order to make sure that you are able to fulfil your sponsor duties.

There are also increasing costs associated with obtaining a sponsor licence and it is important for the organisation to understand what costs are payable as part of your application.

Before applying for a Sponsor Licence

One of the first things to consider when applying for a sponsor licence, is the types of workers you are wanting to recruit. Tier 2 workers are skilled who are being offered a long-term job whereas Tier 5 workers are skilled temporary workers. You may decide you want to apply for a licence covering either tier or both. 

Since sponsor licences are granted for four years, you need to consider how you will use the sponsor licence. After the four years you will be required to apply for a Sponsor Licence Renewal.

A decision on the application is usually made within 8 weeks.

It is vital that your application is prepared and submitted correctly as there is no right of appeal if your application is refused. If you fail to meet the sponsorship responsibilities, you could lose your licence. 

Which sponsor licence does the company need, Tier 2 or Tier 5?

It is important to understand and decide on which sponsor licence you require in order to request the correct amount of allocation of certificates of sponsorship, as there is an annual limit on the number of certificates of sponsorship available.

Tier 2

Tier 2 is for skilled workers who you want to employ long-term or permanently. It’s split into:

·     General - the role must meet the job suitability requirements

·     Intra-Company Transfer - for multinational companies which need to transfer employees to the UK

·     Minister of Religion - for people coming to work for a religious organisation (for up to 3 years)

·     Sportsperson - for elite sportspeople and coaches who will be based in the UK

Tier 5

Tier 5 is for skilled workers you want to employ on a temporary basis. It’s split into:

·     Creative and Sporting - to work as a sportsperson (up to 1 year), entertainer or artist (up to 2 years)

·     Charity Worker - for unpaid workers (up to 1 year)

·     Religious Worker - for those doing preaching, pastoral and non-pastoral work (2 years)

·     Government Authorised Exchange - work experience (1 year), research projects or training, for example practical medical or scientific training (2 years) to enable a short-term exchange of knowledge

·     International Agreement - where the worker is coming to do a job which is covered by international law, for example employees of overseas governments 

Completing your application and submitting the documents

An application for a sponsor licence is made online. Once submitted you only have five days in which you must submit the necessary supporting documentation to the Home Office. Preparation is essential, and it will be important to have prepared all of the relevant documentation by the time your application is submitted to the Home Office.

Although you will have a mandatory list of documents that you must supply, we may recommend further documents are included in support of your application.

To discuss your case and our full services with an immigration lawyer call us on 0207 887 1916 or complete the online form.

Sponsor Licence Management and Your Responsibilities

As a Sponsorship licence holder you are given access to the sponsorship management system which you use to create and assign certificates of sponsorship to prospective employees and report changes. 

 As a Sponsor Licence holder you are obliged to comply with the responsibilities, such as to check that your foreign workers have the necessary skills, qualifications or professional accreditations to their jobs, and to keep copies of documents showing this. You must have HR systems in place that let you monitor employees’ immigration status, keep copies of relevant documents and inform UKVI if your sponsored workers are not complying with the conditions of their visa. Your licence may be downgraded, suspended or withdrawn if you do not meet them.

You must also report any significant changes in your company circumstances within 20 working days, for example, if you stop trading, change the nature of your business, change address or are involved in a merger or take-over.

To register a change of circumstances, use the sponsorship management system (SMS).

Requests can take up to 18 weeks. You can register a change within 5 working days instead if you use the priority service.

Sponsorship Management Roles

As part of the management of your sponsor licence you are required to nominate individuals within your organisation to carry out certain duties. These individuals are known as key personnel and is made up of an Authorising Officer, Key Contact and Level 1 User.

Once your licence has been granted you will have the option of nominating employees as Level 2 users.

As part of the application process, you will be expected to understand the role each key personnel will play and who can be assigned such roles. Those that are designated to such roles will be subject to a background check by UKVI.You must also ensure there is an appointed Authorising Officer and at least one Level 1 user in place at all times. 

If the appointed personnel leave the organisation and there is a failure to appoint someone else to the role, UKVI has powers to downgrade your licence and charge for the opportunity to upgrade it again, or even revoke your licence altogether.  You can allocate any of the roles to a UK-based legal representative, apart from the authorising officer role. Your representative must be qualified to give immigration advice or services.

Certificate of Sponsorship

You must assign a certificate of sponsorship to each foreign worker you wish to employ. 

There are two options available – the unrestricted Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) and the restricted CoS.

Unrestricted Certificate of Sponsorship

An unrestricted CoS is used to recruit new employees with a salary of more than £159,600 or for those switching within the UK to the Tier 2 (General) visa and extensions.

When applying for your licence you will be asked to provide an estimate on how many Tier 2 certificates you will require for your organisation. A fixed allocation of unrestricted CoS, based on your request, will be granted on a yearly basis. 

The unrestricted CoS must be issued to your overseas employee within three months of the allocation, or nor later than 6 months from the date the vacancy was first advertised. Once the CoS has been issued, the employee must make a Tier 2 application within three months. 

Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship

A restricted Cos is needed to recruit new employees currently abroad who will be paid less than £159,600 per annum, are not in an inward investment post or dependents of Tier 4 student migrants who are wishing to switch to a Tier 2 visa.

 There is a limit on the number of restricted certificates available each month. Applications are considered on the first working day after the 10th day of the month, known as the allocation date. Available restricted CoS are allocated based on the highest points awarded, according to the Immigration rules. 

Once the CoS is granted, the employer should assign the CoS to the employee, who will then apply for entry clearance. Any restricted CoS that are not assigned within three months will be automatically returned to UKVI for reallocation.

How soon should I apply for a Sponsor Licence to be ready for the changes in January 2021?

The changes due to take place from January 2021 will make significant changes to a Tier 2 application. The minimum skill level for sponsorship of employees will be reduced to RQF level 3, dropped from RQF level 6. This would mean that sponsor licence holders will have the option to offer employment at the A-level standard instead of the Batchelor’s degree qualifications. There will also be the removal of the Resident Labour Market Test.

Organisations that foresee the likelihood of sponsoring individuals at this lower skill level can apply for a sponsor licence now as the Home Office has updated their sponsor guidance to provide such businesses the opportunity to get their applications submitted ahead of time.

How can Alexandra & Spencer assist with my sponsor licence application?

We provide a personalised end to end service, from relocation of individuals, complete teams or high-profile sportspersons or celebrities, whether this may be temporary or on a more permanent basis. We assist with individual company needs and support them in identifying and filling posts for overseas skilled worker; wherever you are in the process of the sponsor licence. With various packages and fixed fees, our expert lawyers can ensure a smooth transition from the initial sponsor licence application through to obtaining the visa for your employee(s).

Call us on 0207 887 1916 to discuss your requirements or complete the enquiry form.

UK Immigration rules are complex and challenging which is why we work to our client's best interest and understand what is at stake.

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