Are you a UK employer who is looking to hire foreign workers in your business?
Then, you will need to apply for a Sponsor Licence. This is the legal route which UK employers must take in order to recruit overseas talent.
As a popular immigration agency in London, we are often approached by employers who are looking for help with their Sponsor Licence applications. In this article, we will define exactly what a Sponsor Licence is, and answer the question ‘how long does a sponsor licence last?’
How do UK employers sponsor foreign workers?
UK employers must obtain a Sponsor Licence in order to recruit non-British workers.
Any form of UK-based work is considered under this licence, including unpaid activities that are due to be carried out by anyone from the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.
As a licenced sponsor, a UK employer can recruit foreign workers and assign each of them a ‘Certificate of Sponsorship’. This is not a physical document, but an electronic record for each worker hired from overseas.
The certificate contains a unique reference number, which the foreign worker needs when they apply for a work visa to join the UK business.
The UK business can choose to sponsor foreign workers on a short-term basis, or permanently.
There are different types of sponsorship licences, including:
- Skilled Worker
- Minister of Religion or Religious Worker
- International Sportsperson
- Creative Worker
- Charity Worker
- Scale-Up Worker
- International Agreement
- Government Authorised Exchange
- Secondment Worker
- Service Supplier (up to 1 year)
- UK Expansion Worker
- Seasonal Worker
- Graduate Trainee ((Global Business Mobility)
However, just because a UK employer sponsors a non-British individual, this does not mean the individual is guaranteed a visa to work in the UK. The non-British worker must meet the eligibility criteria of their visa application to be granted a work visa.
How long does a Sponsor Licence last?
So, how long does a sponsor licence last?
Once the Sponsor Licence has been granted, it is valid for 4 years.
If your application is successful, you will be awarded an A-rated licence. This means you can start assigning ‘Certificates of Sponsorships’ to foreign workers that you wish to hire.
If you do not meet the responsibilities incumbent upon you as a sponsor, then your licence may be downgraded to a B-rating.
You will be asked to follow an ‘action plan’ provided by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to upgrade your licence– this costs £1,476.
How do I apply for a Sponsor Licence?
Here are the steps which you have to take if you want to apply for a Sponsor Licence:
- Check if your business is eligible.
- Check if the foreign worker’s job is suitable for sponsorship.
- Choose the type of licence that you want to apply for. This will depend on what type of worker you want to sponsor.
- Decide who will manage sponsorship within your business.
- Apply online and pay the fee, making sure you have provided the necessary supporting documents.
When will I hear back with a decision on my Sponsor Licence application?
After you have submitted your application, it will usually take around 2 to 3 months to hear back with a decision and officially become recognised as a sponsor.
You may be able to pay to get a faster decision on your application.
What are the requirements for a Sponsor Licence?
There are eligibility criteria which you must meet if you apply for a Sponsor Licence.
The UK employer and their staff will be checked, to make sure they are suitable to have a Sponsor Licence.
For instance, nobody from the UK business should:
- Spend most of their time outside of the UK
- Be subject to a bankruptcy restriction
- Have a history of non-compliance with Sponsorship requirements
- Have broken the law
- Have been reported to UKVI
- Have failed to pay VAT or other excise duty
- Be a contractor or consultant contracted for a specific project
- Have unspent criminal convictions for offences or certain other crimes, such as fraud or money laundering.
- Had a Sponsor Licence revoked in the last 12 months.
How much does it cost to become a sponsor in the UK?
So, how much does it cost to become a sponsor in the UK?
The Sponsor Licence will have fees throughout the process; these fees are less for smaller businesses than for medium and larger ones.
Small businesses only pay £536 for a Sponsor Licence.
Medium to large businesses, however, pay more than double this at £1,476.
Charities also pay a lower fee of £536.
Click here to read the current fees to apply for a Sponsor Licence.
Can a Sponsor Licence expire?
A Sponsor Licence is granted for 4 years.
Once the licence expires, you cannot hire any more foreign workers, because your licence is no longer valid. Any foreign workers who are currently working for you are now considered to be illegal workers, and their leave will be curtailed.
We recommend applying to renew your licence at least one month before it expires, to avoid running into any legal trouble.
Can a Sponsor Licence be taken away from an employer in the UK?
The Home Office can take away your Sponsor Licence, which would mean that any foreign workers you have sponsored will have their visas curtailed for 60 days. Those foreign workers will have to leave the UK or make a new visa application, but they will need to have legal permission to stay in the UK.
Your Sponsor Licence can be revoked if the Home Office has reasons to believe that you have made a serious breach of the conditions of your Sponsor Licence. For example, if you have supplied false information, broken any laws, or been convicted of a criminal offence.
In addition to having your Sponsor Licence revoked, you may also incur fines and penalties for your actions.
You may not be able to apply for a new Sponsor Licence until at least 12 months have passed.
Where can I get help with my Sponsor Licence application?
Our elite immigration agency (Synergy Immigration Solutions) has extensive experience in dealing with employer and employee applications concerning Sponsor Licencing.
We house all the support services you need for immigration applications, under one roof. This means one cost only, for complete support on your visa application.
- We will liaise with the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) on your behalf- saving you time, effort, workload, and stress.
- We will answer your questions and address any concerns. We are proud to offer a bespoke personalised service, tailoring our advice to suit your needs and ensure that your application has the best chance of success.
- We process all applications in an efficient and timely manner and keep our clients well-informed throughout the process.
- We are proud to say that we have a 100% success rate on Sponsorship Licence applications that we have represented to the UKVI on our client’s behalf.
It is vital that the correct documentation is in place to ensure the application is approved.
We would always recommend that you appoint a specialist such as Synergy Immigration Solutions to manage this process for you.
Alternatively, email email@example.com or call 020 315 05359. We will get back to you within 24 hours and we are more than happy to help.
Find out more about Sponsor Licences
Click here to read our blog articles and helpful pages on:
- UK Skills Gap is Crippling the Economy: Here Are The Best Ways for Employers To Recruit Foreign Workers
- Who Qualifies for Sponsorship Licence?
- How Do You Get a Sponsor Licence?
- How Much Does It Cost a Company to Sponsor a Visa UK?
- Everything You Need to Know About the Sponsor Licence Application
- How Long Does a Sponsor Licence Application Take?
- What Documents Do You Need for Sponsorship?
- Is It Easy to Get Sponsorship in the UK?
- How Long Does it Take for a Company to Get a Sponsorship Licence?
- Sponsor Licence for the Hospitality Sector
- Sponsor Licence for the Care Sector
- What Is a Skilled Worker Visa?
- What Is the Minimum Salary for a Skilled Worker Visa?
About Synergy Immigration Solutions
We are a London-based UK immigration agency, regulated by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC). We are proud members of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association.
We hope this article has provided the answer to the question, ‘how long does a sponsor licence last?’