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Sponsor Licence Application – How to apply

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Sponsor Licence Guide is split into the following sections:

Coronavirus and New Points System Sponsor Licence Update:

Since the new post-Brexit points system was introduced on 1 December 2020 far more people at lower skill levels from RQF Level 3 (about equivalent to A Levels) can come under the Skilled Worker visa system.  In addition, there are no restrictions on shareholdings of Skilled Worker visa applicants and so business owners can more easily come under the Skilled Worker visa category.  Previously, Skilled Workers were limited to a ten percent shareholding unless they were paid at least £159,600 per year or applied under the Intra-Company Transfer route.  Intra-Company Transfer visa applicants cannot usually apply for indefinite leave to remain at the end of five years in the UK.  Intra-Company Transfer visa holders can since 1 December 2020 switch to to the Skilled Worker visa category. 

Due to the current situation documents can now be emailed to the Home Office for a Sponsor Licence application.  There is no need to send original or certified copies of documents.  We do not know how long this concession will last for.  Also in many cases Skilled Worker visa applications that previously had to be made from abroad can due to current travel restrictions be made from within the UK.

For visa applicants in the UK who have applied for a Skilled Worker visa before their visa expired and are waiting for a decision you can start work immediately for the employer.  This applies where the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) has been assigned and the job is the same as in the CoS.  This is a temporary measure due to the current COVID-19 situation and possible delays in processing visa applications.

Sponsor Licence Introduction

A UK based organisation that wishes to employ a non EU or EEA visa applicant in the UK on a Skilled worker visa must have a valid sponsor licence, but many sponsor licence applications are rejected every year due to errors – such as failing to provide the correct documentation and information required, or failing a site visit from Home Office officials – meaning lost working hours and repeat applications.  Employing someone on a visa is expensive, with various Government fees having to be paid.

In many cases if the application is refused you will not be able to apply for a Sponsor Licence again for the same company for six months if not longer. If the application is rejected because not all the necessary documents have not been provided you should be able to immediately apply for another Licence.  The alternatives to a visa with a UK employer Sponsor are somewhat limited, and in reality in most cases are not feasible.

Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence or Intra-Company Transfer or both

There are two types of Sponsor Licences.  The Skilled Worker sponsor licence and Intra-Company Transfer sponsor licence.  The employer can apply for both at the same time or apply for them at different times.  The advantage of the Intra-Company Transfer sponsor licence compared to the Skilled Worker version, is that for companies with an oversea office wishing to transfer the employee to the UK it is frequently quicker.  However, unlike the Skilled Worker visa category, the Intra-Company Transfer visa does not usually lead to indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

In many cases to employ applicants on a Skilled Worker visa the employer also has to do a Resident Labour Market Test.  This is not necessary under the Intra-Company Transfer visa scheme.  In some cases to save time you may wish to apply for a sponsor licence immediately.  On 6 October 2019 ahead of Brexit the number of occupations in the Shortage Occupation List was greatly expanded.  it is now easier for Engineers, IT staff, chefs, and more people in healthcare occupations to gain entry to the UK. 

Workpermit.com's team of visa experts can show you how to obtain a Sponsor Licence by meeting all the conditions of your Sponsor application first time.

Sponsor Licence Business Requirements

There is no requirement that the business in the UK needs to be at a particular size to apply for a sponsor licence, or that it should have been trading for any particular period of time. The business should be operational, and there should be someone resident in the UK and available, to deal with any queries from UK Visa and Immigration at the Home Office.

In practice the business would probably have say one or two or more people working in the business already.  While not strictly necessary it may be an idea to have a separate office for the business. There should be a genuine need for the visa employee. The employee sponsored as a visa employee cannot be a Level 1 User for the Sponsor Licence with the ability to assign Certificates of Sponsorship for visa employees. Sponsor Management Service users for the  Sponsor Licence also cannot sponsor close relatives including their husband, wife, partner, brother, sister, father, mother, etc. 

Probably for very small businesses employing only one or two staff UK Visas and Immigration at the Home Office there is a bigger risk that they may wish to visit you before granting a Sponsor Licence.

Sponsor Licence Applications

In order to sponsor applicants, an employer will need to be on the register of licenced sponsors with UK Visas and Immigration. The Registration process can be quite difficult.  The employer will need to submit an online application and provide a number of documents via email, in order to apply for a Sponsor Licence, and must accept a considerable number of responsibilities as a Sponsor.  In addition, the employer should send a detailed covering letter probably several pages long to UK Visa with the documents to the Home Office answering various questions. UK Visa does not make it easy to find out which questions they want answered!

Sponsor Documentation Requirements

Due to the coronavirus situation, you can send copies of documents which can be sent via email within five working days of submitting the online application.  In many if not most cases employers make mistakes when submitting documents to UK Visa and Immigration.  The documentation requirements as stated n published UKVI guidelines are confusing and difficult to understand. Please see below details of typical documents required for a Sponsor Licence application.

Usually, you will need to have at least four of the following (accounts can be provided via a link to the Companies House site) to submit to the Home Office:

1) Lease or rental agreement for office premises.   All signatures should appear in this document.

2) Business bank statements. Perhaps over three months.  The letter from the UK bank should set out the dealings it has had with you, including the nature and duration of those dealings.

3) VAT and/or NI and PAYE registration document.   It may be possible to have documents certified if documents are online or enclosed as attachments in emails.

4) Latest Annual accounts.  It is usually acceptable just to have a link to the accounts on the Companies House site.

5) Employers liability insurance certificate (at least £5 million)

You need a minimum of four documents.   It may be possible to provide alternative documents in some cases. 

Certificate of Sponsorship

The sponsor will need to assign the applicant a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) before they can apply for leave to enter the UK, or remain in the UK, under a visa. The Certificate of Sponsorship is confirmation by the employer that they wish to employ a visa migrant and that the employee will be paid at the salary as stated in the CoS.  The employer will meet their obligations under the visa system.  It is easier if the employer wishes to employ someone currently based in the UK who is able to switch to a visa from within the UK.  In most cases visa applicants who can apply from within the UK for a visa need an undefined CoS. If the visa applicants needs to apply for a visa from outside the UK, or if the applicant wishes to switch from a Tier 4 dependent visa to a visa, then the employer will need to apply for a Defined Certificate of Sponsorship. visa applicants also need to make sure that they gain enough points under the visa points system.

Sponsorship Duties

The Sponsor has a number of record keeping and reporting duties for the applicants that it sponsors.

1. Record Keeping Duties:

  • Copy of the identification page of the applicant's passport.

  • If the applicant had to apply for entry clearance to work for the employer, evidence of date of entry to the UK.

  • UK immigration status document if not in the passport

  • Copy of Migrants Biometric Residence Card

  • Migrant's contact details

  • Copy of the Migrant's National Insurance Number

2. Reporting Duties:

UK Visas and Immigration must be informed of the following:

  • If a sponsored migrant does not turn up for his or her first day of work

  • If a sponsored migrant is absent from work for more than 10 working days, without the sponsor's reasonably granted permission

  • If a sponsored migrant's period of employment has ended as a result of the migrant resigning or being dismissed

  • If any registration that the sponsored migrant needs to work in the UK (such as with a governing body) is ended

  • If the sponsor stops sponsoring the migrant for any other reason (eg if the migrant moves into another immigration route that does not require a sponsor)

  • If there are any significant changes in the migrant's circumstances (eg change of job or salary excluding annual pay rise)

  • If the Sponsor has any information which suggests that the migrant is breaching the conditions of his or her leave

  • If the Sponsor has any information which suggests that the migrant may be engaging in terrorism or other criminal activity (The Sponsor must also pass any such information to the Police).

 

Workpermit.com's team of UK Sponsor Licence and visa experts can help with Sponsor Licence applications in the following ways:

  • A consultation to determine if a sponsor licence application is the best choice for your business

  • Completing and checking your sponsor licence application online form.

  • Managing and submitting all the appropriate supporting documents for your Sponsor application

  • Preparing a lengthy and detailed covering letter dealing with the additional information required 

  • Guidance on your employment and HR practices to make sure they comply with UK Visas and Immigration's Sponsor conditions

  • Advice on passing UK Visas and Immigration tests and site visits– both before and after your Sponsor application

Workpermit.com's team of specialists has over thirty years of experience in international visa services, and have helped thousands of people to study and work in the UK. We work in conjunction with OISC registered advisers who can submit your UK sponsor licence application and visa application to UK Visas and Immigration at the Home Office. 

For more information and advice on UK immigration law and UK visa applications please contact us on 0344 991 9222 or at london@workpermit.com

 

Frequently Asked Questions: 

Should you apply for a Sponsor Licence?

If you are an employer and wish to employ skilled workers from outside the EU then it is likely you will need a sponsor licence.  You need to have a sponsor licence to employ Skilled Worker visa and Intra-Company migrants.  Now that the Brexit transitional period has ended you will now need a sponsor licence to employ newly arriving EU migrants.

How long will it take to obtain a Sponsor Licence?

This will vary enormously.   However, in most cases the sponsor licence is granted within three or four weeks.  It seems in practice very small businesses with say one or two staff face a bigger risk of being visited by the Home Office before a sponsor licence is granted, and so processing times in these cases may be longer.

What are the basic requirements for a Sponsor Licence?

Usually a business that is already trading in the UK should be able to provide the necessary documents.  You need to have at least one person already resident in the UK that can be trusted completely who will take on roles for the Sponsor Management System such as Level 1 User, Authorising Officer, and Key Contact.  Typical documents that are provided include proof of PAYE registration, employers liability insurance document, bank letter or statements and rent agreement.

Should I apply for a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence or Intra-Company Transfer Sponsor Licence?

If you wish to have the option of employing the visa applicant permanently on a long term basis it would probably be best to apply for a Skilled Worker sponsor licence.  Intra-Company Transfer visa holders usually need to switch to a Skilled Worker visa to eventually be eligible for indefinite leave to remain.  Skilled Worker visa holders can in many cases apply for indefinite leave to remain at the end of five years in the UK. You do have the option of applying for both types of sponsor licence at the same time.