UK Visa Sponsorship Licence for Employers
As an employer, you need a UK Visa Sponsorship Licence to sponsor employees who are not UK settled workers to work for you. The Immigration system has been re-framed to accommodate system changes following Brexit. This system treats both EU and non-EU citizens equally if they are to come to work in the UK. Therefore, you will also need a Sponsor Licence to employ all non-UK settled workers, including EEA and Swiss new entrants to the UK after 1 January 2021. EEA and Swiss citizens who have status under the EU Settlement Scheme are treated as UK settled workers to continue working in the UK without sponsorship.
Application for a Skilled Worker or Intra Company Transfer Sponsor Licence
If you are not already a Home Office registered sponsor you may wish to sponsor migrants to work for you in the UK. In this case, you will need to become a licenced sponsor. The UK Home Office recommends four main steps to obtain your Sponsor Licence.
Following are the summarised steps:
- Assess if your company is eligible:
- Ensure that the people you want to hire are eligible under the Skilled Worker / Intra Company Transfer routes.
- Ensure that you can provide the necessary and correct supporting documents for your Sponsor Licence application. You need to provide at least four originals or certified copies of documents. The types of documents required are dependent on the type of your organisation/company (for example, start-ups, franchises, organisations subject to regulations or inspections). For example, if you are a company listed on the London Stock Exchange Main Market, you may be exempted from sending documents to the Home Office.
- In addition to the documents, you need to provide information regarding why you are applying for a Skilled Worker sponsor licence. Additionally, what sector you are operating in; your operating hours and other relevant information regarding your organisation. You will also supply information in relation to the vacancies that you wish to fill in.
- Ensure that you do not have unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences or other criminal offences (such as dishonesty, bribery, money laundering, etc.).
- Choose the type of Sponsor Licence you want to apply for:
- Identify the sponsoring purpose. For example, you may be sponsoring an employee for general purposes or a specific purpose, such as ICT. Alternatively, you may also apply for a licence covering both purposes. Unless you have no overseas offices, we would suggest applying for both.
- Ensure that your organisation/company can manage its licence:
- You need to appoint key personnel within your organisation/company to manage the sponsorship process through the Sponsorship Management System (SMS) when you apply for a licence.
- The roles that you will need include an Authorising Officer to be responsible for the actions of all SMS users; a Key Contact as the main point of contact with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI); and Level-1 users for the day-to-day management of the Licence. The same person or different people can fill the roles.
- Applying for a Sponsor Licence:
- Your application for the Sponsor Licence will be made online; application fees are payable to the Home Office at submitting the application.
- The application fee is dependent on the type of Licence you are applying for and the size of your organisation/company. For example, the Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence application fee for small sponsors will be £536, whereas for medium or large sponsors will be £1,476. (You will be considered a small business if two of the following apply: 1) your annual turnover is £10.2 million or less; 2) your total assets are worth £5.1 million or less; 3) you have 50 employees or fewer.
- The application process may take up to 8 weeks from the submission of your application. You can also use the Home Office’s Priority service to expedite processing of Sponsor Licence applications for £500 fee and get a decision within ten working days.
- Send your supporting evidence and documents to UKVI by email.
- As part of the process, you will need to confirm the number of staff you plan to recruit through your sponsorship licence for the current financial year. The Certificate of Sponsorship for each employee will cost £199.
If your application is approved, you will be granted a Sponsor Licence by the Home Office. This will remain valid for four years. However, if your application is refused, you will need to wait six months from the date of the UK Home Office’s decision letter before making another application.
How can we help?
Our experts assist numerous organisations in applying for new licences as well as Home Office audits. We also help with renewals of their licences. On this, please read our article HERE to know more about how to renew your licence and the compliance requirement on record keeping HERE. If you need legal assistance with your licence application, skilled worker visa application or wish to organise a mock compliance check, please contact Taylor Hampton’s immigration solicitors today on 020 7427 5972 or submit an enquiry HERE.
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