For a business or organisation to employ workers from outside the UK they must hold a Sponsor Licence.
The sponsor licence essentially gives them the power to hire anyone they need from non-UK countries. This means getting skilled workers who want to come and live and work in the UK.
Workers can come to the UK on a skilled worker visa with a sponsor. They can bring dependants such as a partner or children on the visa making it a good choice for families wanting to move to and work in the UK.
All forms of UK-based work are considered under this licence. This includes unpaid activities that are going to be carried out by anyone from the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.
So, who can sponsor a skilled worker visa in the UK?
Who can sponsor a skilled worker visa in the UK?
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.
How do you Become a Licenced Sponsor in the UK?
Applying to be a licenced sponsor is simple, just follow these steps:
- Find out if your business will be eligible.
- Find out if the job you are hiring for is suitable to be sponsored.
- Decide which type of licence you are going to be applying for.
- Choose who inside your business is going to be in charge of the sponsorship.
- Finally, just apply on the website and pay the charge.
How to Match a Role to the Correct SOC Code.
Matching the job role you are looking for with the correct SOC code is not too difficult but you will need it to apply. You can access the ONS website and use the occupation coding tool. This should give your code.
Make sure to read the job descriptions though so as to make sure you have the criteria for the position correct and therefore the correct code.
Make Sure you Follow the Salary Guidelines
It is important to double-check that what you are going to be paying your potential future employee is correct. If you are not then you will either have your licence rejected by the Home Office when you apply or you will have your licence revoked.
If you are unsure what the minimum salary for a skilled worker is make sure you do research for the specific position that you are hiring for.
What are the Requirements of your New Employee?
To be eligible for a skilled worker visa the following must apply to your employee;
- Knowledge of English – you must be able to speak, read and write English, which you will usually be asked to prove. Your English should be at level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale.
- Work for an employer that has been approved by the Home Office.
- Have a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ – this will be given to you by your employer and should entail what job role you have been offered in the UK.
- The job must be on the list of eligible occupations.
- Paid at least minimum wage- this also depends on the job role. The minimum can also be based on the minimum ‘going rate’ for your specific job role in the UK.
What Documents are Required for a Certificate of Sponsorship UK?
There are various bits of documentation you are going to need throughout this process. This list lets you know what you will need:
- 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?
It can take around 2 months to hear back from the Home Office with a decision regarding your sponsorship application. It can even take longer sometimes if there are any kind of 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 Can I Get Sponsorship Fast?
The process can actually be accelerated if you are lucky. You might be able to choose to pay an extra fee of £500 to speed up the decision.
If you and your business are in particular need of urgent support this is actually recommended.
Do bear in mind that this additional £500 only speeds up the application for the Sponsorship Licence and not the future employee’s visa process.
The visa application process itself, which your potential employee will go through, takes longer. The wait time is currently up to around three months because of delays at the Home Office.
How Long is a Sponsor Licence Valid?
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.
Do you Need Help Applying for your Sponsorship Licence?
That is what we are here for!
We are a UK immigration agency, regulated by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC). We are proud members of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association.
To find out more about Synergy Immigration Solutions and our visa services, visit our website here.
To contact us, call us on 020 315 05359, email firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in our online contact form here.
Click here to learn more about the Sponsor License and how we can help with your application.
We hope this answered the question ‘Who can sponsor a skilled worker visa in the UK?’.
Read articles on our blog here, to find the answers to frequently asked questions about topics such as the UK skills gap, right-to-work checks, and the difference between Tier 2 and Skilled Worker Visa.
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