A Sponsor Licence is generally required by an employer who wishes to employ a skilled worker from outside the UK. As of 31 December 2020, a licence is also required to hire non-settled EEA nationals.
Types of Sponsor licence
There are two types of licences available.
The first type of licence is a “Worker licence” and is suitable for employers who have long-term job offers. This licence is split into four different categories depending on the type of vacancy available. These categories are:
- Skilled Worker – the role must meet the job suitability requirements as set out in Appendix Skilled Worker. Essentially, the job offered must be at a suitable rate of pay and skill level.
- Intra-companies visas – this includes Intra-company Transfer and Intra-company Graduate Trainee.
- Minister of Religion – suitable for people coming to work for a religious organisation.
- Sportsperson – for elite sportspeople and coaches.
The second type of licence is a “Temporary Worker” licence which allows employers to employ people on a temporary basis. This is also split into six different categories.
When applying for a sponsor licence, an employer will need to select the most appropriate type of licence and category based on its business needs. It is possible for an employer to hold a sponsor licence under more than one category.
To apply for a sponsor licence, the employer must provide evidence to the UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) that the business is lawfully trading and has a genuine vacancy. It must also satisfy UKVI that the business has the required HR and recruitment process to monitor its employees and in particular any sponsors employees.
An employer seeking a sponsor licence must also be able to show that there are no unspent criminal convictions or immigration offences or certain other offences such as money laundering and fraud and that no sponsor licence has been revoked in the last 12 months.
UKVI assess each application against a rigorous criterion to ensure that any prospective sponsor can comply with duties that come with a sponsor licence. In some cases, UKVI will expect to see the policies and procedure on a physical visit of the licenced premises.
UKVI Compliance visit
In many cases prior to deciding on a sponsor licence application, UKVI may visit the organisation to carry out a compliance review to determine whether the prospective sponsor is capable of offering genuine vacancies and carrying out its sponsor duties.
As part of a compliance visit, UKVI can carry out several checks, including a review of the organisation’s current practices, policies and HR procedures in order to ensure that it has suitable systems in place for hiring and monitoring workers.
If following a review, UKVI has any concerns, the application can be refused. It is therefore essential that the organisation reviews relevant systems and policies prior to submitting a sponsor licence application.
Applying for a Skilled Worker Licence
Any employer wishing to apply for a licence to sponsor workers must submit the appropriate online application form and pay the application fee depending on the size of the business.
An employer must also submit the appropriate supporting documents within 5 working days of submitting the application form. The documents required are set out in Appendix A of the Sponsor Guidance. Generally, a minimum of four documents is required to support any sponsor licence application. The type of documents required can depend on the type of business. All prospective sponsors are nevertheless required to show that they are actively and lawfully trading.
Duration of a licence
Any licence granted will generally be valid for 4-years, starting from the date of the grant. A licence must be renewed before this 4-year period is over.
How we can help
UKVI will carefully scrutinise an application for a sponsor licence application. If it does not consider that an organisation is genuine, or it considers that any of the other requirements have not been met, the application will fall for refusal. It is therefore essential that the application is prepared thoroughly and carefully.
We are experienced in preparing sponsor licence applications to ensure a successful outcome and will provide expert guidance and assistance to organisations throughout the process.
If your organisation requires legal assistance or you would just like to discuss your situation with one of our experts on a no-obligation basis, please give our team a call or make an online enquiry below.
For further help or information Get In Touch