If you want to sponsor overseas workers, including workers from the EEA (or EU) from 2021, you will need a sponsor license. This gives you the right to employ overseas workers, but does not guarantee that your workers’ visas will be approved. Once you have applied, the Home Office may visit your business to check it is suitable.
Step 1: Check your business is eligible
In order to get a licence you will basically need to demonstrate that you don’t have any unspent convictions for offences like fraud, money laundering or immigration offences, or a history of failing to carry out sponsorship duties.
You’ll also need to show that you have appropriate systems in place to monitor your sponsored employees. This includes things like having HR systems in place to monitor employees’ immigration status, retain copies of their documents which can be easily accessed, track attendance and contact details. You will also need to show you will be able to report any problems like a failure of your employee to come to work to UKVI.
Step 2: Choose the type of licence you want to apply for
Skilled Worker is best suited for long term employment and has replaced the old Tier 2 system.
Tier 5 is best suited for temporary employment although it is still only available for skilled workers. It is split into the following categories.
– Creative and Sporting – to work as a sportsperson (up to 1 year), entertainer or artist (up to 2 years)
– Charity Worker – for unpaid workers (up to 1 year)
– Religious Worker – for those doing preaching, pastoral and non-pastoral work (2 years)
– Government Authorised Exchange – work experience (1 year), research projects or training, for example practical medical or scientific training (2 years) to enable a short-term exchange of knowledge
-International Agreement – where the worker is coming to do a job which is covered by international law, for example employees of overseas governments
Step 3: Decide who will manage your licence
You will need to appoint people within your business who are responsible for managing the sponsorship process. You will need to fill the following roles.
– Authorising officer – a senior and competent person responsible for the actions of staff and representatives who use the SMS
– Key contact – your main point of contact with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)
– Level 1 user – responsible for all day-to-day management of your licence using the SMS. You may choose to use an immigration firm for this service.
Step 4: Apply online and pay.
Applications should be made online through the government website here. You will then need to print out the submission sheet and send it along with your supporting documents to UKVI, their address is:
Sponsor casework operations
Sponsor applications team
UK Visas and Immigration
PO Box 3468
The fee you will need to pay will depend on the size of your organisation and the type of license you are applying for. The relevant fee table is available on the government website.
80% of decisions are made within 8 weeks of application.
If successful you will get an A-rated licence. An A-rated licence will allow you to assign certificates of sponsorship and indicates you are meeting your sponsor duties.
This may be downgraded to a B-rating if you are found not to have met certain sponsor duties. This will mean you will not be able to assign any new certificates of sponsorship until you follow a UK Visas and Immigration ‘action plan’ to make improvements and restore your A-rated licence. This will set you back £1,476 and if you are unsuccessful you will lose your license and all the money involved in obtaining it so it is advisable to take meticulous care to fulfil your duties to the letter.
We always recommend getting professional advice to avoid negative and long-lasting repercussions as the result of innocent errors. UK Visas has years of experience managing both sponsor license applications and acting as level 1 users. If you would like to apply for a sponsor license or find out about the process please call us on 01403 801 801 or email us at [email protected]