If you wish to employ a skilled worker from outside the UK (including those from the EU from 2021), you must first apply for a Tier 2 and/or Tier 5 sponsorship licence. A sponsorship licence is permission given by the Home Office to you as an organisation/business to sponsor migrants to work in the UK. If you want to maintain staff levels following Brexit and do not have a sponsorship licence, you will urgently need to have a Tier 2 sponsorship licence secured.
The government recently stated “…employers not currently approved by the Home Office to be a sponsor, should consider doing so now if they think they will want to sponsor skilled migrants, including from the EU, from early 2021…”
At present, non EU potential employees must have a job offer from an organisation/ business that has obtained a sponsorship licence before they can apply to travel, enter, remain or work in the UK. This requirement will also be necessary for EU nationals from 2021.
To obtain a sponsor licence you must satisfy the Home Office that:
- Your business is a genuine organisation that is operating lawfully in the UK. This must be evidenced by submitting required documents relating to your business. The required documents will depend on the type of business/organisation that you are and the tiers that you wish to utilise as a sponsor.
- You are honest, dependable and reliable. The Home Office will look at your history and background and the same for your key personnel to determine these requirements.
- You are able and capable of carrying out your sponsor duties, including evidencing your compliance in a timeframe and manner that is required by your sponsorship duties.
- If you are applying under Tier 2 (General), you must offer genuine employment that meets the Tier 2 (General) required skill level and the appropriate level of remuneration.
In addition to the evidence you provide, the Home Office will check your current recruitment and human resource procedures and practices in order to ensure you are able to satisfy and adhere to your sponsor duties. They will also look at the role that you are seeking to employ a foreign national in and the way/extent this role and position assists your business/organisation.
When you submit the sponsor licence application the Home Office may visit your organisation/business to check and ensure you satisfy the sponsorship criteria.
The application process
There are a number of steps your need to take in order to process your application. It is important to understand how this process will work to ensure you have all the necessary documentation in place.
- You must submit your sponsorship licence application online at gov.uk
- You would have normally been required to print off all pages of your original submission sheet from the online application (signed and dated by the authorising officer) and submit the same with the correct supporting documents to the Home Office. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic the Home Office will now accept pdf and digital signatures. Moreover until recently, the documents had to either be originals or certified copies. Again, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Home Office have relaxed this rule where documents in support of an application for a sponsorship licence can be emailed as pdf documents/files. These documents should all be sent together within 5 working days from the date you completed the online application (this strict requirement has also now been relaxed in light of the Covid-19 pandemic).
- Your application should be processed within 4 to 6 weeks.
- If your sponsor licence application is approved, you will be granted an A-rated sponsor licence and will be listed on the register of sponsors. You will then be able to assigning Certificates of Sponsorship to migrants that wish to work for your business.
- As a sponsor you will be granted access to the Sponsorship Management System (SMS). The SMS is an online portal where you will manage your licence and comply with your reporting duties.
- Your sponsorship licence will be valid for 4 years. You will need to apply for a sponsorship licence renewal just before your sponsorship licence expires.
- You must meet all your sponsorship licence duties and comply with the Immigration Rules or you could lose your licence.
Please note when applying for a sponsorship licence, if you submit any items that are incorrect or if you fail to submit required documents, your application will be invalid. Invalid applications will be rejected by the Home Office and your fee should be refunded. If your sponsorship licence is refused there is no right of appeal and you might not be able to apply again for five years depending upon the reasons for refusal. It is of paramount importance that your sponsorship licence application is prepared with the upmost care.
Author Ayan Yalchin
is a business immigration director at Duncan Lewis Solicitors with more than 19 years’ post-qualification experience acting on behalf of individuals and businesses in a variety of immigration related proceedings.
Ayan continues to be recommended by Legal 500 2019 for his immigration work in London. He specialises in Tier 1, Tier 2, and sponsorship licences for companies including renewals and advising on processes and compliance, Tier 4 (students) and Tier 5 (temporary workers), as well as all types of entry clearance, FLR, settlement, EEA and ECAA applications.
Contact Ayan on 020 7275 2011
or at email@example.com
Duncan Lewis Business Immigration Solicitors
Our Immigration department is ranked as a top-tier practice in Immigration: human rights, appeals and overstay matters in The Legal 500 2019. As leading immigration specialists we advise on business immigration, right to work in the UK, Tier 2 visa applications, student/graduate visas, spousal visas and visa overstays.
Our broad practice provides a full service to SME business clients across the UK in relation to the Points Based System (PBS); Sponsorship license applications and immigration strategy/compliance advice. Our specialist solicitors are also able to advise businesses and individuals on any changes to UK immigration law as a result of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.
For expert legal advice call Duncan Lewis immigration solicitors on 020 7275 2011