In order to employ skilled workers from outside the EU, UK employers must first apply to UK Visas and Immigration for a sponsor licence. Workers must have a job offer from an employer that has made a successful sponsor licence application before they can apply to come to, or remain in, the UK for work.
What are the main eligibility requirements for a Sponsor Licence?
In order to obtain a sponsor licence, you will need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration that:
• Your company is a genuine organisation operating lawfully in the UK;
• You are honest, dependable and reliable;
• You are capable of carrying out your sponsor duties and evidencing your compliance in an appropriate timeframe and manner;
• You can offer genuine employment that meets the appropriate skill level and appropriate rates of pay.
In order to establish that you are a genuine organisation operating lawfully in the UK, you will need to submit a number of company-related documents. The exact documents will depend upon the type of organisation that you are and the tiers that you wish to sponsor migrants under.
UKVI will assess whether you are honest, dependable and reliable by looking at your history and background, as well as that of the key personnel named on your application and any people involved in the day to day running of your business.
UKVI will examine your current human resources and recruitment practices in order to make sure that you are able to fulfil your sponsor duties.
Under the genuineness test, UKVI will look at the role that you are seeking to recruit foreign nationals for, and the extent to which this role fits within your organisation as a whole.
What else do I need to know about making a Sponsor Licence application?
You can apply for a sponsor licence online. At the end of the application, you will need to print out the submission sheet and post it to UK Visas and Immigration, along with the correct supporting documents.
Most sponsor licence applications are processed within 8 weeks.
As part of the sponsor licence application process, UK Visas and Immigration may visit your business premises in order to check if it satisfies the sponsorship criteria.
It is important that your sponsor licence application is prepared carefully, as there is no right of appeal if your licence application is refused. If you are refused a licence, you may not be able to apply again for up to five years, depending on the circumstances.
Once your application has been approved, you will be granted an A-rated sponsor licence, following which you can start assigning Certificates of Sponsorship to migrants who wish to work for you, and you will be listed under the register of sponsors.
You will be given access to the Sponsor Management System (SMS). This is an online portal where you can manage your licence. You must also use the system to report certain events, such as if a migrant fails to report to work.
A sponsor licence is valid for 4 years, after which you will need to apply for a Sponsor Licence Renewal.
If you fail to meet your sponsorship responsibilities, you could lose your licence.
A Sponsor Licence is required by any employer wishing to employ a worker or volunteer from outside the EU, making them responsible for a number of duties including the following:
• Assessing when a role is suitable for sponsorship and whether the prospective worker is suitably qualified for the role on offer
• Ensuring that any foreign workers employed by the business are fully compliant with UK Immigration Law
• Maintaining appropriate records and providing Home Office prescribed reports to the government via the online sponsor management system.
• Working with the Home Office to prevent abuse of the immigration system