We outline the process for obtaining a UK Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence
Does your business need to recruit workers from overseas? The Skilled Worker visa sponsor licence and the Senior or Specialist Worker visa sponsor licence are needed to hire foreign workers in the U.K. for the long-term.
An employer can apply for both sponsor licences at the same time. The advantage of the Senior of Specialist Worker visa sponsor licence over the Skilled Worker version, is that the hired employees do not need to pass the English language test. However, unlike the Skilled Worker visa category, the Senior or Specialist Worker visa does not usually lead to indefinite leave to remain, or residency, in the U.K.
Since the U.K. introduced the points-based visa system and the new Skilled Worker visa to replace the Tier 2 visa, you no longer need to carry out the Resident Labour Market Test. However, it would be a good idea to advertise the position to satisfy the Home Office that the vacancy is genuine. It may also make it easier if you already have details of the person that you wish to sponsor.
A U.K. company applying for a Sponsor Licence does not need to be of a particular size or have been trading for any particular period of time. It should be operating and have a resident employee to answer queries from the Home Office, although newer businesses are likely to be scrutinised more closely. Since the pandemic, there has been a big increase in home-based businesses obtaining a Sponsor Licence.
The U.K. company will need to fill three sponsor management roles to apply for a sponsor licence – an authorising officer, a key contact and a level 1 user, all of whom must be living in the U.K. The person appointed as the level 1 user must be a British citizen or a permanent U.K. resident while the others may be temporary residents. One person can fill all the key personnel roles or three people separately.
The Level 1 user has access to the sponsor management system and cannot assign Certificate of Sponsorships to themselves, to a close relative or a partner. So, if you wish to employ a relative or a partner, it may be best to appoint a level 1 user who is not a relative of the person you wish to employ when applying for a sponsor licence.
A holder of a U.K. work visa cannot be a Level 1 User for the Sponsor Licence with the ability to assign Certificates of Sponsorship for visa employees.
If you are a small business employing only one or two people or a new business, U.K. Visas and Immigration at the Home Office may pay you a visit before granting you a Sponsor Licence or send you a long list of additional questions.
After the sponsor licence application is approved the business will appear on a publicly available register of sponsors. To sponsor applicants, the employer will need to remain on the register of licenced sponsors with U.K. Visas and Immigration at the Home Office. The sponsor must also accept considerable responsibilities once the sponsor licence is approved.
You can send copies of documents via email within five working days of submitting the online application. You need a minimum of four documents from the list of documents mentioned in the online Sponsor Licence form. These include:
- Lease or rental agreement for office premises can be provided if relevant. All signatures should appear in the document.
- Business bank statements, usually for three months. You can also provide a letter from a U.K. bank setting out the dealings it has had with you, including the nature and duration of those dealings.
- VAT Certificate. You may login with your business HMRC account, download the VAT certificate, and then send it via email to the Home Office.
- HMRC document that could be a web page confirming that the business is registered for PAYE and National Insurance contributions. The document should include both the PAYE Reference Number & Accounts Office reference number. It should be possible to obtain this by logging into the business’ HMRC account.
- Latest annual accounts. It is usually acceptable just to have a link to the accounts on the Companies House site.
- Employers’ liability insurance certificate with a cover of at least £5 million
- Latest acknowledgement of a Company Tax Return CT620, or as an alternative the completed CT600 tax return together with the CT603 notice.
The following documents should also be provided:
- Covering letter from the employer to the Home Office
- An organisation chart detailing owners, directors and board members. If the business has 50 employees or less, then all employees should be listed with their names and titles. All unfilled vacancies including details of the position to be filled by the visa applicant should also be a part of the chart
- Curriculum vitae of the people to be hired
- Job description
- Job advertisement usually on a well-known recruitment site or relevant site for the vacancy.
- Some pages from the business website or promotional literature of the company
- Qualifications of the applicant
- In unusual occupations, documentation relating to the occupation to be filled by the applicant.
If you are keen on obtaining a sponsor license for your business or Skilled Worker visas, please do get in touch with Visa Kings Global. This is one of a series of articles on obtaining a sponsor license for Skilled Worker visas.