To hire non-UK resident workers, your organisation must hold a valid sponsorship licence.
If your business has ever thought about submitting an application to the Home Office to become a sponsor licence holder, then read on for some of the key considerations.
Why might a business need a sponsor licence?
There are many reasons why UK employers might be considering applying to the Home Office for a sponsor licence. For example, they want to continue employing the international student who recently graduated on a full-time basis, or there has been a recent merger/ takeover and there are TUPE or similar protections which necessitates a sponsor licence.
Which type(s) of sponsor licence(s) is/ are required?
There are various types of sponsor licence, though the most common is a combination of the Skilled Worker and/or Intra-company Transfer sponsor licence. The former allows employers to recruit all foreign nationals. The latter only allows the recruitment of foreign nationals from linked overseas entities.
Consider time limits
Where you already employ a foreign migrant, an important consideration will be the type of visa they have, when their current visa will expire, and whether they need to leave the UK to apply for a new visa. If their visa will be expiring soon, this may impact your ability to continue employing them in the interim.
A sponsor licence application can take the Home Office up to 8 weeks to make a decision. If a licence is required urgently, it is possible to pay a premium which usually results in a decision being made within 10 working days.
If your business has recently or will be involved in TUPE or similar protections, and there are sponsored migrants, there is a requirement to apply for or extend the scope of the sponsor licence within 20 working days.
If you have previously applied for a sponsor licence and were refused one, you may still be subject to a cooling-off period – if so, your application will be refused.
Are the necessary systems in place?
In most cases, established employers will already have the appropriate policies, procedures, and systems in place. Even so, these may have been introduced purely from an employment law perspective and should be checked for appropriateness, in preparation for applying for a sponsor licence.
Should the Home Office carry out a compliance audit and your systems are not sufficiently robust, this could potentially lead to the sponsor licence not being granted and/or being revoked. It is important to ensure from the outset, and throughout the life of the sponsor licence, that employers comply with the sponsor licence duties and responsibilities.
Who will be the Key Personnel?
When applying for a sponsor licence, it will be necessary to name the individual(s) who will fill the roles of Authorising Officer, Level 1 user, and Key Contact. These can be filled by the same person or a combination of different people. However, there are numerous qualifications such as being: a paid staff member/ office holder, a settled worker, permanently based in the UK.
Will the role(s) be amenable to sponsorship?
Whilst you are trying to fill a genuine vacancy, it is necessary to ensure that it is one that can be sponsored. For example, is it on one of the approved lists? Is the job at the appropriate skill level and will you be paying the appropriate minimum salary threshold?
Under the Skilled Worker route, jobs must be pitched at a minimum of “A-level” or above, usually with a minimum gross annual of salary of £25,600. However, the Intra-company Transfer route requires the job to be pitched at “graduate” level or above, and paying a minimum of £41,500 gross per annum.
A sponsor licence will be valid for 4 years and the application fee will be up to £1,476. There are also additional costs such as £199 to assign a certificate to each migrant, and the Immigration Skills Charge which will be up to £5,000 per migrant.
Applying for a sponsor licence can be an exciting opportunity for your organisation. However, there are also numerous factors to consider and address, some of which have been set out above.
If you have any questions and/or would like tailored advice on any UK immigration matter, please speak to Vincent Chung of Dixcart Legal Limited at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Vincent specialises in the practise of UK immigration lawyer and is a dual qualified solicitor in Scotland, and England & Wales.