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UK Sponsor Licence

UK-based businesses who wish to hire international workers may need to apply for a Sponsor Licence.

Call us on  0121 667 6530 for immediate help and assistance. We offer advice and application support in person, over the phone, or via Skype.

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    What Is A UK Sponsorship Visa?

    UK-based organisations who wish to employ non-EU or EEA visa applicants on a skilled or temporary worker Visa, must have a valid Sponsor Licence issued by the Home Office. Once a Sponsor Licence has been issued, international workers can apply for a Skilled Worker visa or a temporary worker visa, depending on their personal circumstances. You must submit a Sponsor Licence application online to get consideration and approval from the Home Office.

    To obtain a valid Sponsor Licence, companies need to be equipped to meet the Sponsor Licence requirements set out by the Home Office. It is important to note that sponsoring an employee using your Sponsor Licence does not automatically guarantee that they will receive the visa that they apply for. The final decision on a persons visa permission will come from the Home Office directly.

    If you want to learn more about applying for a Sponsor Licence and a Skilled Worker visa, or if you need the help of an immigration professional, you can get in touch with our team by calling us at 0121 667 6530.


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      Who Is Eligible For A Sponsor Licence?

      To submit a Sponsor Licence application, UK-based employers cannot have:

      • Unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences or certain other crimes, such as money laundering or fraud
      • History of failing to carry out their sponsorship duties

      An appropriate system to monitor any Sponsor Licence employer must be in place and will be regularly checked by the authorities. The UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) will review your application forms and supporting documents, and may also need to visit your premises to make sure that you are capable of carrying out your duties. The Home Office can perform a compliance visit at any time with no pre-warning.

      How To Apply For A Sponsor Licence As An Employer?

      You can submit a Sponsor Licence application by using the online form. The Sponsor Licence application process includes the following steps:

      • Completing and submitting your Sponsor Licence application form online. If you need assistance, one of our immigration lawyers in Birmingham can help you with this phase.
      • Paying your Sponsor Licence application fee to the Home Office
      • Providing a bundle of documents to certify that you are a genuine business based and operating in the UK
      • Showing evidence of your eligibility
      • Choosing which type of licence, you need to apply for, based on the category of workers you need to hire.

      You must pay the correct Sponsor Licence application fee at the point of submitting your Sponsor Licence application.

      Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence

      Skilled Worker visa applicants are overseas workers who can be employed in the UK. The category has replaced the former Tier 2 visa scheme. This category includes the following permits:

      • Skilled Worker visa, for those who meet the job suitability requirements
      • Senior or Specialist Worker visa, for multinational companies which need to transfer their employees to their branch in the UK
      • Minister of Religion, for those coming to work for a religious organisation in the UK for up to 3 years
      • Sportsperson, for elite sportspeople and coaches who will be based in the UK for up to 3 years

      Temporary Worker Sponsor Licence

      Skilled workers who wish to remain in the UK temporarily, can apply for a Temporary Worker visa. This includes:

      • Creative and Sporting workers, such as sportspersons, artists and entertainers
      • Charity unpaid workers
      • Religious workers, doing preaching, pastoral and non-pastoral work
      • UK Expansion Worker (Global Business Mobility)
      • Secondment Worker (Global Business Mobility)
      • Graduate Trainee (Global Business Mobility)
      • Service Supplier (Global Business Mobility)
      • Government Authorised Exchange, for work experience, research or training
      • International Agreement, for those whose job is covered by international law, such as employees of overseas governments
      • Scale-up Worker
      • Seasonal Worker

      Job Positions That Qualify For UK Sponsor Licence

      The skilled worker license doesn’t cover all positions. Specific skill and salary thresholds must be fulfilled, and particular industries and specialties are not included. Any intended sponsored position needs to satisfy sponsorship criteria and achieve the necessary 70 points within the chosen visa pathway. Below is a list of certain qualities, the nature of the qualities in regards to necessity, and how many points they’re worth. Please note this list is subject to change in 2024:

      • Approved sponsor job offer – Obligatory – 20
      • Job at suitable skill level – Obligatory – 20
      • Proficient in required English level – Obligatory – 10
      • Salary £20,480 to £23,039 or minimum 80% of profession’s standard (whichever higher) – Exchangeable – 0
      • Salary £23,040 to £25,599 or minimum 90% of profession’s standard (whichever higher) – Exchangeable – 10
      • Salary £26,200 or above or minimum profession’s standard (whichever higher) – Exchangeable – 20
      • Job in Migration Advisory Committee’s shortage occupation list – Exchangeable – 20
      • Education qualification: Relevant PhD – Exchangeable – 10
      • Education qualification: STEM-related PhD – Exchangeable – 20

      The Duties Of Sponsor Licences

      When an organisation applies for a Sponsor Licence, it commits to specific administrative tasks that aim to prevent illegal employment. These duties involve maintaining accurate and current records, which sponsors must be ready to share with the Home Office for review whenever necessary.

      The Home Office assesses the Sponsor Licence employer’s capacity to fulfil these sponsor licence duties through the application process. These duties include keeping correct records, contacting the Home Office regarding any changes to circumstance with their employees, and tracking and reporting absences.

      Sponsors are required to maintain records regarding their sponsored employees and their eligibility to work in the UK. This includes relevant documents and current contact information.

      The employer must store duplicates of the following documents of their employees:

      • Passport
      • Biometric residence permit
      • Employment contracts
      • Immigration status documents, including the duration of their permission to stay in the UK
      • Right to work checks

      The Sponsor Licence employer must also conduct regular monitoring of their employees to check for:

      As an employer, you must:

      • Ensure that your foreign workers have the necessary skills and qualifications for the role, with documents to prove this
      • Only assign Certificates of Sponsorship to workers when the job is suitable for sponsorship
      • Inform the UKVI if your employee is not complying with the conditions and terms of the visa, such as they regularly miss work or have switched to another job or immigration category, quit their job, or not been at work for 10 consecutive days.
      • Ensuring sponsored workers meet visa criteria
      • Conducting right-to-work checks
      • Storing relevant recruitment documents and reporting specific events to the Home Office.

      If any of the above become apparent then the employer must contact the Home Office within ten working days.

      Get in touch with our expert immigration lawyers to learn how to get a Sponsor Licence. Contact us

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        Sponsor Licence Audit

        For companies with a Points-based System (PBS) Sponsor Licence, sponsor licence compliance and audits are crucial, as the Home Office may conduct visits to ensure adherence to immigration control. Failure to maintain proper procedures could lead to licence revocation and visa issues. To secure and maintain an A-rated sponsor licence, it’s essential to excel in areas such as monitoring immigration status, record-keeping, and recruitment practices.

        Your business must ensure compliance by keeping filings up to date, organising HR files, creating checklists, ensuring easy access to records, implementing systems for training and file improvements, and conducting mock audits and staff appraisals.

        Types Of Certificate Of Sponsorship (CoS)

        A sponsor licence number is a unique ID on a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), a digital document with job details for overseas workers applying for a work visa. To get a CoS, someone in your organisation applies via the Sponsorship Management System (SMS). Once approved (typically taking one day to be approved, but processing times for CoS may differ), the CoS is issued to the worker, confirming their job offer and allowing them to apply for a work visa. A CoS costs around £25 to £239.

        How To Appoint Your Sponsorship Management Roles?

        As a part of all Sponsor Licence applications, you need to appoint designated people within your business to manage the sponsorship process. Your allocated employees must be paid members of your staff or officeholders. This personnel will be able to use the Sponsorship Management System (SMS).

        You need to appoint the following roles:

        • Authorising officer, a senior position responsible for the actions of all the members of the staff and representatives who use the SMS
        • Key contact, who will be your main point of contact with the UKVI
        • Level 1 user, who will be responsible for all daily management of your licence through the SMS

        If necessary, you can appoint an optional level 2 user. This role has more restricted access to the SMS but can support the other representatives.

        How Does Licence Rating Work?

        You will get an A-rated Sponsor Licence if your application is approved, and your business will automatically be listed in the register of sponsors.

        Nevertheless, your licence may be downgraded to a B-rating at any time, if you fail to meet your sponsor duties.

        If this happens, you will not be allowed to issued new certificates of sponsorship, and you will only be able to extend the licences of workers you already employ until you are upgraded back to an A-rating. To get an A-rating licence, you must follow an action plan provided by UKVI and pay a fee of £1,476.

        You can only have two B-ratings in the 4 years that your licence is valid. If you get a third B-rating, you will lose your licence, and you will need to reapply for it.

        Get in touch with our expert immigration lawyers to learn how to get a Sponsor Licence. Contact us

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          What Is The Resident Labour Market Test?

          The Resident Labour Market, an essential part of the Tier 2 Sponsor Licence process, has since been dismissed and replaced by the Skilled Worker visa route.

          It is no longer a requirement for UK businesses holding or seeking a Sponsor Licence to satisfy the requirements of the Resident Labour Market Test and can employ and sponsor skilled migrant workers straight away.

          Instead of the RLMT, the new points-based system ensures that workers are suitable and the vacancy in question is genuine.

          What Are The Sponsor Licence Fees?

          Your Sponsor Licence application cost depends on the size of your business and the type of licence you need to get. The fee is applicable when you first apply and every four years after, should you choose to renew your licence.

          Type of Sponsor Licence Fee for Small Businesses Fee for Medium and Large Businesses
          Worker £536 £1,476
          Temporary Worker £536 £536
          Worker and Temporary Worker £536 £1,476
          Add an additional worker No fee £940
          Add an additional Temporary Worker No fee No fee

          What Are The Types Of Sponsorship Certificates?

          The different types of Sponsor Licence certificates are as follows:

          Unrestricted certificates: When you apply for your Sponsor Licence, you will be asked to provide the number of worker and temporary worker certificates you are going to need. There is no limit to the number of unrestricted certificated that you can require for your business, provided that you submit adequate evidence.

          Restricted certificates: These are for workers who are currently abroad and who will be paid less than £159,600 a year, or family members of Student visa holders who are switching to a worker visa. These Sponsor Licence certificates can be issued before the next allocation date only in exceptional circumstances.

          What Are My Responsibilities As A Sponsor Licence Holder?

          To be responsible and trustworthy Sponsor Licence holders, you must:

          • Check that all your international workers have the necessary skills and qualifications to do their jobs
          • Keep copies of your workers’ professional accreditations
          • Only assign certificates of sponsorship to workers who are suitable for the job
          • Tell UKVI if your sponsored workers are not complying with the conditions of their visa
          • Ensure the smooth running of your Sponsor Management System (SMS)- the Sponsor Management System is an online tool used by the Home Office to allow you to track and keep record of your sponsored employees

          If you fail to meet these responsibilities, your Sponsor Licence may be downgraded, suspended or withdrawn. The Home Office can perform a compliance visit at any time- it is important that you adhering to your responsibilities at all times, should you receive an unannounced visit.

          How Can Birmingham Immigration Lawyer Help?

          Birmingham Immigration Lawyers are experts in the immigration field. Should you require the assistance of a trained immigration solicitor, our team would be delighted to hear from you.

          Whether you require guidance with your existing Sponsor Licence, or you wish to apply for your first licence, Birmingham Immigration Lawyers have you covered.

          If you want to learn more about applying for a Sponsor Licence, or if you need the help of an immigration professional, you can get in touch with our team by calling us at 0121 667 6530.

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                    Frequently Asked Questions

                    First of all, the licence you need to apply for depends on whether the workers you wish to hire is applying for a Tier 2 Skilled Worker Visa or requires a Tier 5 Temporary Worker Visa.

                    Your staff will be checked to ensure that they are suitable for these roles. Eligible personnel must be based in the UK most of the time, and cannot have:

                    • Unspent criminal convictions
                    • Been fined by UKVI in the past 12 months
                    • Been ever reported to UKVI
                    • Broken the law
                    • Been a “key person” at a sponsor that had its licence revoked in the last 12 months
                    • Failed to pay VAT or other excise duties

                    If your application is successful, you will be given a licence rating. At that point, you will be able to issue certificates of sponsorship if you have any job that is suitable for it.

                    Your Sponsor Licence will be valid for 4 years. Nevertheless, you may lose your licence at any time if you fail to meet your responsibilities as a sponsor.

                    As a part of your sponsor licence application, you will need to pay an additional charge for each foreign worker you employ and who are coming to work in the UK for 6 months or more. This is called the “Immigration skills charge”.

                    Although you must pay the immigration skill charge if the worker is applying from within the UK (even if they are applying for less than 6 months), you will not be charged if you are sponsoring a worker who:

                    • Is switching from a Tier 4 (Student) Visa to a Tier 2 (General) Visa
                    • Has a tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Graduate Trainee Visa
                    • Will do a job with a PhD-level standard occupational classification (SOC) code

                    The SMS system will work out how much you need to pay for your immigration skill charge based on the size of your organisation and how long the migrant will be working for you.

                    You are usually a small business if:
                    • Your annual turnover is £10.12 million or less
                    • You have 50 employees or fewer
                    If you are unsure which category your company fits into, you can get in touch with our team of immigration lawyers in Birmingham. One of our advisers experienced in employment immigration law will be happy to review your situation and provide you with professional advice.

                    You can apply to correct a mistake with your application if you think it was refused because your supporting documents were not considered. This option is only available for businesses that submitted their forms on or after 1st April 2016.

                    It must be noted that you cannot apply for an appeal if you disagree with the Home Office decision. However, you can discuss your situation with one of our Birmingham immigration lawyers, and evaluate the best options to submit a new application.

                    You can sponsor under-18s for the following visa categories:

                    • Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme)
                    • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – International Agreement), if they will work as a private servant in a diplomatic household or in the household of an employee of an international organisation