Starting from 1 January 2021, the new UK Immigration System requires all UK-based organisations who are looking to sponsor foreign skilled workers or students (including EEA Nationals and Swiss citizens) in the UK to apply for a sponsor licence.
The criteria to be met for a successful licencing process are rather complex, as it is essential for the UKVI to ensure that the applying organisation is:
Potential sponsors must ensure to make a valid sponsor licence application by following a straightforward licensing process, which comprises of:
The business will be mandatorily required to appoint 3 key personnel to operate the sponsor management system, and it is vital for the success of the application that the business appoints competent individuals who are themselves compliant with the eligibility criteria set out in the sponsor licence requirements. Key personnel positions are Authorising Officer, Key Contact & Level 1 user. If the sponsor licence application is successful, all three individuals are equally responsible for complying with the sponsorship duties; particularly with ensuring that migrant workers are compliant with regulation set out by the immigration control. It is possible for one employee to cover all the three key personnel positions at the same time.
Upon the submission of the application, the UKVI may conduct a compliance visit to examine the organisation's HR, operations & recruitment system. Usually, the person responsible to attend the audit will be the Authorising Officer. The Home Office's compliance visit may be unannounced, as such it is vital for the business to be prepared and have a clear understanding of their sponsorship & employment duties.
The processing times for a sponsorship licence to be approved can take up to 8 weeks and is granted with either an A rating or B rating. The initial grant is valid for a 4 years period of time, and successful applicants will see their business's details listed in the Register of Sponsors - ready to follow a separate application process in order to issue a certificate of sponsorship and employ a non-resident worker. The UKVI also has a priority processing service for sponsor licence applications determined in 10 working days with an additional fee of £500.
It is common practice for businesses to appoint professional immigration lawyers to carry out the paperwork required for an application to obtain a valid licence. The benefits of doing so are clear; however, it is important that businesses are aware of restrictions that apply in terms of representation to avoid failure. Our specialists can assist sponsor licence applicants to: