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The Process of Applying for a Sponsor Licence
If an employer wants to hire a person who is not a settled worker or who does not otherwise have immigration permission to work in the UK, then they will need permission from the Home Office. If the Home Office grant an employer permission to hire foreign workers, then it will grant them a ‘sponsor licence’ which enables them to do so. An employer that possesses a sponsor licence (formerly a Tier 2 sponsor licence) is known as a ‘sponsor’.
Employers do not need a sponsor licence to employ certain categories of person, including:
- Irish citizens (with very limited exceptions)
- people who have been granted settled or pre-settled status on the EU Settlement Scheme
- people with indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK (also known as ‘settlement’).
The process of acquiring and maintaining a sponsor licence can be time-consuming and complicated. The following video provides an overview of the application process for a sponsor licence.
Get in touch for an initial consultation on telephone: 0203 5245439.
Types of Sponsor Licence
There are two types of sponsor licence and it is important for employers to know which sponsor licence to apply for as it can affect the roles in which their organisation are able to employ foreign workers. These two types of sponsor licence are:
- Worker: for skilled or long-term employment
- Temporary Worker: for specific types of temporary employment.
Worker routes allow employers to sponsor people in different types of skilled employment. Temporary worker routes enable employers to sponsor workers in a variety of temporary roles within that company to help satisfy cultural, charitable, religious or international objectives.
How Long does it take to Obtain a Sponsor Licence?
It usually takes less than 8 weeks for a sponsor licence application to be considered. However, employers should be aware that it can take between 2-3 months for the application to be processed as well as being recognised on the list of sponsors. To help speed up the process, you should consider providing a comprehensive overview of how you meet the requirements. You will also need to provide the necessary supporting information in the manner specified by the Home Office.
The Genuine Vacancy Test
The Genuine Vacancy allows the Home Office to scrutinise an application for a sponsor licence to determine whether the vacancy is genuine or has been created to help a migrant secure visa status.
Employers will need to demonstrate that in all cases, the role to be filled by the migrant worker is a “genuine vacancy”. There are a few factors the Home Office will consider when determining a genuine vacancy:
- Does the role actually exist?
- Has the description been exaggerated?
- Has the role been created primarily to enable an overseas national to come to, or stay in, the UK?
- If the role has been advertised, are the requirements listed inappropriate or incompatible with the business? Have they been tailored to exclude resident workers?
If the Home Office has concerns that the application is not meeting the genuine vacancy test, they may request the employer for additional information.
Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
After the approval of your sponsor licence application you will need to apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship:
- An undefined CoS is assigned to a worker who is applying from within the UK for a Skilled Worker visa, or for workers on all other routes including the Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) route
- A defined Cos is assigned to a worker who is based overseas for a Skilled Worker visa.
Types of Visas
Once a CoS has been assigned to the prospective employee, you will need to apply for either a Skilled Worker visa (previously Tier 2 General visa) or an Intra Company Transfer (ICT) visa for the applicant. In addition to meeting the Genuine Vacancy test, the applicant will also need to meet the maintenance and English language requirements.
Get in touch to speak to our specialist immigration team on how to make a successful sponsor licence application and avoid a sponsor licence application rejection. We can also assist with renewing your sponsor licence application or challenging a revocation of an existing sponsor licence.
For a step-by-step guide on the application process, take a look at our easily accessible guide at: Tier-2-sponsorship-licence.pdf (nalawsolicitors.co.uk).
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
You need a sponsorship licence if you plan on hiring employees from outside the EEA.
To meet the requirements, you must:
- be a genuine business or sole-trader which is legally operating in the UK.
- be able to demonstrate a genuine need for migrant workers.
- have no unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences, money laundering, or fraud.
- not pose any kind of threat to the UK via your company or any of its personnel.
- not have a history of failing to carry out sponsorship duties.
- have organised HR systems and records.
The Home Office fee depends on the type of business you have. For small businesses and charities the Tier 2 sponsorship fee is £536. For medium and large businesses the Tier 2 sponsorship fee is £1476. You are a small business if you have an annual turnover of £10.2 million and less than 50 employees.
Some of the most common reasons for Tier 2 sponsor visa rejection are:
- Non-compliance with the Home Office security standards
- Failing the genuineness test
- Failing to retain documentation on sponsored migrant workers
The Home Office will award you with a license rating. Your business will be placed on the UK Sponsorship Licence register. You will be able to issue Certificates of Sponsorship. Your license will be valid for 4 years.
Applying for a Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence is a lengthy and complex process. NA Law Solicitors can assist with your business immigration needs by managing the entire Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence application process. We can help you adhere to your duties as a Tier 2 sponsor and steer you towards a successful outcome. Subsequently, NA Law can assist with the following:
- Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence applications
- Audit existing HR and record keeping systems
- Acting as a key contact and/or level 1 user for your Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence
- Advising on Right to Work checks as set out by the Home Office guidance
- Applying for a restricted or unrestricted CoS and assigning it to the relevant workers
- Advising on how to deal with closure notices and civil penalty notices
- Assisting multi-nationals to bring their overseas staff to the UK via the Tier 2 Intra-company Transfer visa route
- Advising on Brexit-related issues faced by EEA national workers
- Advising on all other corporate immigration matters
During the sponsor licence application, the Home Office may come to conduct a compliance visit at the company premises. Our specialist team at NA Law Solicitors can conduct a mock audit for you. This will decrease the chance of an unsuccessful sponsor licence. Contact us for further information, advice or guidance.
Most applications are dealt with within 4 weeks. UKVI will contact the applicant once a decision is made.
Prior to making a decision on a Student sponsorship licence application or as a means to ensure a sponsor is adhering to its Student sponsor duties, UKVI may make an unannounced visit to inspect the sponsor’s HR policies and confirm they have sufficient measures in place to fulfil their obligations.