What is a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence?
A Sponsor Licence is what you will need in order to hire a skilled worker from another country. The Sponsor Licence is used by your new employee as proof that they will have a job upon arriving in the UK.
A Sponsorship Licence is held by a business and/or an organisation, not by an individual.
A worker qualifies to be sponsored if the job that you are going to be employing them for is at the appropriate skill level and the appropriate pay rate amongst other criteria on the visa application.
There are different types of sponsorship licences that fall under the two main categories of a ‘Worker Licence’ and a ‘Temporary Worker Licence. These are as follows:
A ‘Worker Licence’ means that you can hire people for various types of skilled employment. This can be anywhere from short-term to permanent depending on the employee’s visa. The ‘Worker Licence’ is divided into:
- Skilled Worker
- Senior or Specialist Worker Visa
- Minister of Religion
- International Sportsperson
Temporary Worker Licence
A ‘Temporary Worker Licence’ means that you can hire people on a more temporary basis such as job-shadowing or volunteering. You can only obtain this type of licence for certain job roles and visas. The ‘Temporary Worker Licence’ is divided into:
- Scale-up Worker
- Creative Worker
- Charity Worker
- Government Authorised Exchange
- International Agreement
- Graduate Trainee
- Service Supplier
- UK Expansion worker
- Secondment Worker
- Seasonal Worker
There are only three types of visa where a person under the age of 18 can be sponsored these are as follows:
- An International Sportsperson visa at 16 or over.
- A Creative Worker visa with no minimum age.
- A Government Authorised Exchange visa with no minimum age.
When sponsoring a scale-up worker your responsibilities as a sponsor end 6 months after they are allowed to come to or remain in the UK.
After these 6 months, the employee will have the choice to either stay on in their role with you or seek employment elsewhere. Either option is now possible without a new Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS).
There are some extra requirements if you are hiring a religious worker. Usually, you would have to advertise the job to someone with a pre-existing religious worker visa.
This does not apply if it is not an essential role that includes living with a religious order. For example, living in a nunnery or a monastery.
There are even specific rules you must follow when advertising a position for a religious worker.
If you do not advertise the job you must keep a record of it as you will have to prove that there was no satisfactory candidate for the position who would not need to obtain a visa.
There are many different types of job roles that fall under the category of creative workers. This includes but is not limited to dancers, models, theatre performers and workers and screen performers and workers.
When sponsoring a creative worker you must make sure that you either follow the creative worker’s code of practice for that occupation if it has one or that the job is on the shortage occupations list.
If neither is applicable then you must make sure that there is nobody who can do the job that does not need sponsoring.
If your creative worker is under 18 – You may need to get a Child Performance Licence. You must also make sure the person running the event has put the application through 21 days before the event will start.
International Sportsperson visa
This visa requires a letter of endorsement from the relevant governing body.
What are the Requirements for a UK Company to Sponsor an Immigrant?
To be able to sponsor somebody for their Skilled Worker visa you cannot have any of the following:
- Any criminal convictions that are unspent. These can be for immigration offences and other offences such as fraud and money laundering.
- If you have lost a sponsorship licence in the last year.
You should also make sure that:
- The job you are recruiting for is suitable to be sponsored.
- You know what type of licence you should be applying for based on what type of position you are hiring for.
- You have a system place such as an HR department that can make sure your business is meeting all the requirements needed to maintain sponsorship.
If you have a history of losing a Sponsor Licence in the past 12 months and/or your organisation also has a history of not complying with the requirements for the Sponsorship Licence, this will be known by the Home Office and you will be rejected as a sponsor.
As the Sponsor Licence is held by an organisation and not an individual person the staff will also be checked to make sure the organisation is suitable. See our list of things nobody from your business should do:
- 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 immigration offences or certain other crimes, such as fraud or money laundering.
- Had a sponsor licence revoked in the last 12 months.
Now all you need to do is get your documentation together and apply for your Sponsorship Licence.
What Documents are Needed for Sponsorship in the UK?
There are a few different types of documentation that you will need when applying for your Sponsorship Licence. You must make sure you have these or your application will be rejected.
- Company accounts.
- Proof of VAT registration.
- A letter from your corporate banking provider, setting out the dealings it has had with you, including the nature and duration of those dealings.
- Proof of inspections and outcomes for relevant industries such as agriculture and healthcare.
- Business ownership and directorship proof.
- Evidence of trading locations.
- Proof that you are based in the UK.
- Proof that you are operating and trading lawfully in the UK.
- Certified translation of any documents that are not in English or Welsh.
- Job titles and Occupation Codes for the roles which you want to recruit foreign workers for.
- Depending on the status of your application and the circumstances, you may be asked to provide additional documents.
How Long Does it Take to Get a UK Sponsorship Licence?
Normally the wait time for the decision of if your Sponsorship Licence has been approved or not is around 8 weeks. This can be shorter if you are lucky or longer if there are any delays.
If you are desperate for your new employee either because you have a huge need for more help or if you already have an employee chosen and waiting you can actually speed the process up.
Speeding up the decision costs £500. This can be really helpful if you do need it. It should be noted though that this fee will only speed up the process of the Sponsorship Licence for the organisation. It will have no effect on the rate that the employee’s visa application goes through.
How Long is a Sponsor Licence Valid for?
Once you have received your Sponsorship Licence it should be valid for the next four years. The only time it would be shorter would be if you had your licence removed or if you, the employer made the decision to terminate it.
Can you Lose it?
You can definitely lose your Sponsorship Licence. If you breach the conditions of having your Sponsor Licence then it will be taken away. This could be because of supplying false information, breaking laws or being convicted of a criminal offence.
If it is deemed to be necessary, then the Home Office have the authority to revoke your Sponsorship Licence just as they approved it.
When this happens and workers you have that have their visas based on your sponsorship would have 60 days in which to figure out what they will do.
There are differences to your worker depending on factors such as, if they were already in the country or if they had not yet come over and if they have or have not yet begun to work.
In most of these situations, the employee will be allowed to work for 60 days whilst they find another option.
The workers can either leave the UK or they can use this time to apply for another visa. Either way if they want to stay they will need permission, legally, to do so.
As the Sponsor, you might have to also pay a fine and face any penalties that come as a consequence of losing your licence.
You also will not be able to obtain a new Sponsorship licence in the next 12 months.