Since the planned changes in immigration rules will make it more expensive to hire foreign workers from April, it may be worthwhile to apply for a Sponsor Licence at the earliest
Does your business need to recruit workers from overseas? If it does, you will need to obtain a Sponsor Licence that allows businesses to hire workers from other countries through Skilled Worker visas. While the planned changes in immigration rules announced recently will make it more expensive for businesses to use foreign employees it may still be helpful to understand how to obtain a Sponsor Licence.
To be able to apply for a sponsor licence, an organisation must be based and have started trading in the U.K. It must have one or more people resident in the U.K. to fill the three management roles required for a Skilled Worker sponsor licence — the sponsor management role, authorising officer and key contact. If the business has started recently, it may be good to show that the business is viable. Longer established businesses are likely to find it easier to obtain a sponsor licence.
It is important to get the documentation right because if the application is refused a new application for a Sponsor Licence cannot be submitted again for six months. If the application is rejected at an early stage because not all the documents were provided you may still be able to apply immediately for another licence.
For a business trading in the U.K. the list of required documents includes employers’ liability insurance, bank statements, evidence of PAYE registration, link to annual accounts, VAT certificate, etc. Any four of these may be provided. You also need one or more people resident in the U.K. to fill the key personnel roles in the sponsor management system. Make sure that the sponsor is paid a high enough salary and meets the English language requirements to gain enough points.
Once you have the documents ready, you can complete the online form and pay the Sponsor Licence fee of £536 for smaller companies and charities or £1,476 for larger companies. You may also apply under the ten working day pre-licence priority service that costs £500. There are thirty applications available for the priority service each day on a first come first served basis.
The Authorising Officer, one of the key personnel roles, then needs to sign, date and tick the submission sheet. Please note that the signature needs to be a "wet ink signature". You then have five working days to send all the relevant documents to the Home Office via email. Ideally, documents should be sent in the pdf format, although JPEG and PNG files are also accepted. It should be easy to tell from the file name what the contents of the file are. Unless the priority service is used, the application process is likely to take about two months.
Some applicants are sent a long list of questions by the Home Office after the application is submitted. If the questions are not answered with relevant supporting documents within seven days, then the application is likely to be refused.
Since the new points system was introduced after Brexit on 1 December 2020, many more people, including those at lower skill levels starting from RQF Level 3, that is equivalent to about A Levels, can enter through the Skilled Worker visa system. The Skilled Worker visa replaced the previous Tier 2 visa scheme. It is important to make sure that the proposed U.K. visa applicant gains enough points. In most cases the Skilled Worker visa applicant will need to take an English language test approved by U.K. Visa and Immigration to gain enough points.
Due to the lockdown during COVID-19, it was decided that documents for the sponsor license application could be emailed to the Home Office instead of original or certified copies of documents being sent. This has become a permanent change to the procedures for applying for a sponsor licence. In addition, more Skilled Worker visa applicants can apply from within the U.K. than was the case in the past. However, recent restrictions make the situation more difficult with fewer students in the U.K. expected to switch to the Skilled Worker visa category.
Those who are in the U.K. and have applied to extend their Skilled Worker visas for the same employer before their visa expired, can continue to work for the same employer while waiting for a decision.
If you are keen on obtaining a Sponsor Licence for your business or Skilled Worker visas, please do get in touch with Visa Kings Global. This is the first of a series of articles on obtaining a sponsor license for a Skilled Worker visa.