To sponsor someone from overseas you will need to undertake various processes and duties. Your company may already hold a Skilled Worker Licence. If you are unsure whether your company is already sponsored, please check on the UKVI register of sponsors.
There are several parts to the process of getting your chosen candidate to work in the UK:
- Apply for a sponsor licence – The sponsor licence is issued by the UKVI (immigration division of the Home Office). You will need to demonstrate you have the systems in place and compliance to qualify for the licence. Once approved the Skilled Worker Licence enables you to issue sponsorship to your chosen migrant.
- Sponsoring your worker – To sponsor your worker, you will need to assign a Certificate of Sponsorship. There are a number of requirements that will need to be met for the Certificate of Sponsorship to be assigned.
- Ongoing sponsorship duties and compliance – When granting the Skilled Worker Licence, the UKVI bestow a number of duties upon the employer to ensure they are compliant with the rules. Once granted the licence is valid for four years and allows you to sponsor nationals from overseas including Europe.
The complexities surrounding the sponsor licence, let alone the sponsorship licence duties that follow, are vast and while important can lead the prospective sponsor into thinking the process is all- consuming.
There are many facets to sponsoring an individual from overseas and the Sponsor Licence application is just a very small part within the immigration route. For instance, there are not just one but a number of sponsorship routes available under the new Points Based Immigration System for non-UK residents.
- Skilled Worker
- Global Mobility Business
- Health and care worker
- Temporary worker routes for example Government Authorised Exchange Scheme, Youth Mobility Scheme
We will be focusing mainly on the Skilled Worker route however, each of these routes requires the applicant to receive sponsorship from an employer.
The sponsor licence grants permission from UKVI to sponsor workers (nationals from outside the UK) in its organisation. The responsibility of the sponsor and UKVI is to ensure that the worker route system is not misused by unprincipled individuals. Therefore, the onus is on the sponsor to ensure their systems and processes exist and remain compliant. The UKVI has a right to audit any company at whatever stage of the application process and during the life of the licence.
Failure to meet the sponsorship and compliance duties may result in enforcement action. There are various actions which may be enforced depending on the gravity of the offence. These are a few:
- Fines for employing illegal immigrants (individuals who do not have a right to live and or work in the UK)
- All licences are initially granted with an A-rating. Downgrading of the licence from A-Rating to B-rating. B-rating would mean further hoops to jump through to regain the confidence of UKVI that you can maintain your duties. If you can demonstrate that you have improved your systems and compliance you may be elevated to back to an A-rating.
- Your licence is revoked – If your Skilled Worker Licence is revoked you will lose all sponsorship rights to those you are employing and therefore their leave will be curtailed, and they will be required to leave the country.
There are different criteria that need to be met for the UKVI to consider a Skilled Worker Licence to sponsor favourably.
- The organisation is a genuine entity operating in the UK lawfully. If the organisation is not trading or based in the UK, the UKVI will without question refuse the application.
- There is a resident of the UK, working in the UK for the organisation available to manage the application and sponsorship and are available to respond to any queries the UKVI may have.
- The company must offer a genuine vacancy which meets the Skilled Worker suitability criteria
- The UKVI may request further supporting information to verify whether the role and its duties exist and are aligned.
- Human Resources as with all businesses employing individuals are key. HR systems must be in place for recruitment processes and demonstrating compliance. As mentioned above the Home Office may at any time conduct a site inspection to ensure that this is the case.
- No unspent criminal convictions among the Directors and key personnel.
- You may not get your licence if any of the key personnel have:
- been fined by UKVI in the past 12 months
- been reported to UKVI
- broken the law
- been a ‘key person’ at a sponsor that had its licence revoked in the last 12 months
- failed to pay VAT or other excise duty
The Home Office will need to see reasons why you require a sponsor licence and a foreign national to fill the vacancy and if your reasons are genuine; it is very easy to demonstrate this.
The UKVI can usually look for genuineness through the Skilled Worker Licence application, a pre-licence audit whereby they may visit your premises or by the sponsor making an application for a Certificate of Sponsorship. The genuineness looks at the roles in which you are recruiting foreign workers for and how they fit within your organisation. Whether they fit in a standard occupation code. Whether the salary is relative to the type of work the individual will be doing. Looking at whether it is reasonable to employ someone for the specific role. Likewise for the chosen migrant worker, they may be invited to interview whereby the UKVI may question whether a migrant meets the genuineness also.
Making an application for a sponsor licence
You will find the sponsor licence application on the UKVI website via the sponsor management system.
The application is mainly focussed on the profile of the company and Key Personnel who will be managing the licence, you will also need to ensure you have the correct supporting documentation for the type of business you run.
Appendix A details the types of documents you may need to submit in support of your application. These documents will be used to demonstrate the eligibility, suitability and genuineness of your case. There are many variables for the different organisational types etc ,so it is important to provide the right documents.
Due to the importance of getting the application right the first time a lot of companies engage Legal representatives to manage the application for you however the appointed Authorising Officer will need to be the one who submits the application and documents to the Home Office.
If, you are initially applying for your licence the process from submission to an outcome from the Home Office is usually 8 weeks. Timelines vary however, when the application isn’t straight-forward the Home Office may take longer to consider it. In a lot of cases if the application has been prepared with accuracy and detailed in a way to meet the criteria without confusing the application with excessive documents, the timelines may be reduced. There is also a pre-licence priority service, subject to availability, whereby the application can be considered within 10 working days.
How much does a sponsor licence cost?
You will be required to pay a fee on submission of the sponsor application. The fee differs with the size of your organisation (no vat):
|Type of Licence||Fee for small or charitable sponsors||Fee for medium or large sponsors|
As mentioned above you can also apply to expedite your application by applying for the pre- licence priority service. If, you are successful you will be required to pay an additional £500 (no vat). The Home Office will email the authorising officer with their decision on your application and if you successful you will receive a licence for four years after which time the licence will be due for renewal. It is important to maintain the licence during the validity of all sponsored migrants’ visas. If the licence expires before their leave, you may be in breach of your responsibilities and subject to scrutiny.
If, in doubt or you find yourself in an arena of complex questions it may be useful to speak to one of our sponsorship experts; we specialise in sponsorship for employing overseas workers in the UK.
Wherever you are in the lifecycle of your licence or recruitment pipeline we can assist in all areas of the process as follows:
Our sponsorship licence services include:
- Complimentary initial consultation to discuss company background and to find a suitable route forward for your recruitment pipeline
- Sponsor licence application support
- Practice audit on your existing HR systems
- Briefing staff on their compliance duties and responsibilities
- Assessment of candidates whether they meet the criteria
- Advice on assigning certificate of sponsorship
- Licence renewal applications
- Dealing with sponsor licence refusals, revocations and downgrades
- Advice on other worker routes
To book your complimentary consultation please call us on 0207 836 8505 and speak to one of our specialists.