What is a Sponsor Licence?
All UK employers must have a Sponsor Licence if they wish to employ skilled workers from overseas.
There are a number of sponsor licences available depending on the type of job that is being offered. If a company is planning to recruit a temporary worker then they will need a Temporary Worker Licence.
Companies and organisations will need to ensure they can meet a number of obligations as the employer of a overseas worker – before recruiting and once they have become a employee.
The sponsor licence requires a company member to be the point of contact and that person must not be a shareholder but must hold a senior position within the company.
Sponsor Licence Timescale
According to Home Office guidance it takes up to eight weeks to process a sponsor licence. However, this is not a guaranteed timeframe and it could take longer to be granted a sponsor licence.
If there are delays then it can have a significant impact on a firm’s ability to attract the world’s most skilled workers as they may opt for an alternative employer who already have a sponsor licence in place.
Therefore, it is vital to ensure when applying for a sponsor licence that all paperwork submitted is correct otherwise it could be rejected and have to be resubmitted – leading to further delays.
It is advisable to seek advice from professional immigration lawyers before starting the application process to avoid any potential issues.
It is also worth noting that the sponsor licence processing time of 8 weeks is the given time for the standard processing route. There is the option to opt for a pre-priority service or fast-track option that speeds up this time frame significantly – with the latter offering a turnaround time of 10 days.
Demand for Skilled Workers
There are a number of issues that do arise when companies make a sponsor licence application and it is vital to be aware of any potential problems before embarking on the process.
One of the most common problems is the change in the Home Office processing times. While 8 weeks is the guidance given this can increase and reduce depending on the current demand. For instance, following Brexit there has been a rise in processing times because UK-based companies became required to hold sponsor licences to recruit EEA workers. In addition, EEA workers are required to hold visas, like a Skilled Worker visa, to work in the UK.
Labour shortages, especially within the health and care sector, have resulted in more applications from organisations wanting to recruit migrant workers.
Meeting the Sponsor Licence Requirements
In some cases applications can be rejected or refused because incorrect information has been supplied or vital details have been omitted from the application process. It is vital to ensure when applying for a sponsor licence that the online application form is completed correctly and all requested information is given.
The exact documentation needed can vary depending on the nature and type of application. For example, if you are applying for a sponsor licence under the Secondment Worker then you will need to provide evidence of a contact worth in excess of £50 million.
Failing to provide supporting evidence can often lead to delays so you may wish to seek advice from a immigration expert to double-check your application.
Pre-sponsor Licence Compliance Visit
In some cases, the Home Office may wish to carry our a visit or audit before deciding whether to grant a sponsor licence. The aim of these compliance visits is to ensure that a company or organisation is following the required systems and has the correct policies in place to recruit migrant workers.
The Home Office visitor will be looking at many aspects of an company including record-keeping, employee tracking, employee data as well as ability to meet general sponsor duties.
If a compliance visit does need to be conducted then this can obviously add extra processing time to an application but it is important to agree to such visits otherwise it is highly likely the sponsor licence application will be refused.
Pre-licence Priority Service
The Home Office has introduced a new pre-licence priority service to help speed up the process of sponsor licence applications.
Opting for the priority service means sponsor licence applicants can request a fast-tracked decision by paying £500 on top of the standard sponsor licence fee. This means the application will be processed within ten working days rather than the standard 8 weeks.
Companies who wish to sponsor skilled workers via the the Global Business Mobility and Scale-Up Visa routes are not able to apply via the pre-licence priority service.
Fast Tracking Sponsor Licence Application
The fast-track service is for UK employers that have identified their candidates and want to issue Certificates of Sponsorship as soon as possible. There are also a number of other restrictions for those wanting to take advantage of the pre-licence priority service.
Only 30 priority slots are available per working day and they are allocated on a first come, first serve basis. Once the slots have been filled, any applicants will have to try again the following working day.
Those applying for the priority service will need to have completed a UKVI online sponsor application registration and then complete the online application form via the Sponsor Application Log-in.
Last modified on December 19th, 2022 at 2:45 pm
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Every licensed sponsor must comply with specific duties, set by UK immigration law, which are:
- Preventing any abuse of the assessment procedures;
- Do not discriminate any of your migrant workers;
- Report any employee behaviour that may cause concern;
- Monitor compliance with Immigration Rules;
- Keep up-to-date records of your international workforce.
One of your responsibilities as an employer is to check if each job applicant is allowed to work in the UK. Part of being a Sponsor Licence holder is that you ensure you:
- Check the applicant’s original documents;
- Make and keep copies of the migrant’s record;
- Check the employee’s right to work and live in the UK online, if you are provided with a reference number.
If the migrant is unable to show any document because of an outstanding visa application, you must ask the UKVI to check the employee’s immigration status. Before you can employ the migrant, you must wait for a Positive Verification Notice from the Home Office.
If your foreign employees’ right to work is time-limited, you will need to recheck their documents when they obtain a visa renewal.
It is possible to apply for a single licence that covers all offices. When applying, the UKVI will ask for evidence that the head office is linked to any branch listed.
If the head office has its licence suspended, the revocation will apply to all branches.