• A UK Sponsor Licence is essentially needed for UK-based business owners who are looking to hire overseas professionals for their business.
  • It is mandatory for a UK company to possess a valid Sponsor Licence, which enables them to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship to the employee they want to hire.
  • From the immigration point of view, the employee MUST have a Certificate of Sponsorship to apply for most of the work visas to come and work in the UK.
  • Get in touch with us, either call us on +44 203 773 2948 or drop an email at [email protected] to know about how can you acquire a Sponsor Licence for your UK-based business.

Sponsor Licence – Overview

  • An employer who is a UK-based business owner will need a Sponsor Licence to employ overseas skilled professionals for their UK company.
  • This also includes citizens of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland who arrived in the UK after 31st December 2020.
  • A Sponsor Licence is mandatory for unpaid job roles as well. For example, managing/operating a charity campaign.
Eligibility Criteria Types of Licence under the Sponsor Licence
To get a licence as a UK-based employer, the applicant:

  • Cannot have unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences or certain other crimes, such as fraud or money laundering.
  • Cannot have a Sponsor Licence revoked in the last 12 months.
  • Will need appropriate systems in place to monitor sponsored employees and people to manage sponsorship in the business.
  • Will get their application form and supporting documents reviewed by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). They might visit the applicant’s business to make sure they are trustworthy and capable of carrying out their duties.
The licence a sponsor needs depends on the duration of the job period of the overseas employee.
For example:

  • Workers – for skilled or long-term employment.
  • Temporary Workers – for specific types of temporary employment.

The business owners can apply for a licence covering one or both types of workers.

Certificate of Sponsorship

  • The sponsor must assign a Certificate of Sponsorship to each foreign worker they employ.
    This is an electronic record, not a paper document.
  • Each certificate has its own number which a worker can use to apply for a visa.
  • When the sponsor assigns the certificate to a worker, they must use it to apply for their visa within 3 months.
  • They must not apply for their visa more than 3 months before the start date of the job listed on the certificate.

Responsibilities of a sponsor

A sponsor must:

  • Check that the foreign workers have the necessary skills, qualifications, or professional accreditations to do their jobs, and keep copies of documents showing this.
  • Only assign certificates of sponsorship to workers when the job is suitable for sponsorship.
  • Tell UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) if the sponsored workers are not complying with the conditions of their visa.
  • The employer’s licence may be downgraded, suspended, or withdrawn if they do not fulfill these responsibilities.

Job suitability for a UK Sponsor Licence

The employer can provide sponsorship to a worker if the job they’re going to do has a suitable rate of pay and skill level, or meets the other criteria needed for their visa.

Immigration skills charge

The sponsor might have to pay an additional charge when they assign a Certificate of Sponsorship to someone applying for a UK Skilled Worker visa or a UK Senior or Specialist Worker visa. This is called the ‘immigration skills charge’.
The sponsor must pay the immigration skills charge if they’re applying for a visa from:

  • Outside the UK to work in the UK for 6 months or more.
  • Inside the UK for any length of time.

Sponsorship management roles for a UK Sponsor Licence

The sponsor will need to appoint people within their business to manage the sponsorship process when they apply for a Sponsor Licence.
The main tool they’ll use is the sponsorship management system (SMS).
The roles are:

  • Authorising officer – a senior and competent person responsible for the actions of staff and representatives who use the SMS.
  • Key contact – sponsor’s main point of contact with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).
  • Level 1 user – responsible for all day-to-day management of the Sponsor Licence using the SMS.

These roles can be filled by the same person or different people.
The sponsor can also appoint an optional level 2 user once they have a Sponsor Licence. This is an SMS user with more restricted access than a level 1 user, for example, they cannot withdraw a Certificate of Sponsorship.

Suitability checks

The sponsor and his/her staff will go through checks to make sure they are suitable for these roles. The sponsor may not get a Sponsor Licence if anyone involved in sponsorship has:

  • An unspent criminal conviction for an offence listed in the guidance for sponsors.
  • Been fined by UKVI in the past 12 months.
  • Been reported to UKVI.
    Broken the law.
  • Been a ‘key person’ at a sponsor that had its licence revoked in the last 12 months.
  • Failed to pay VAT or other excise duty.

The sponsor and the allocated staff must also:

  • Be based in the UK most of the time.
  • Not be a contractor or consultant contracted for a specific project.
  • Not be subject to a bankruptcy restriction order or undertaking, or a debt relief restriction order or undertaking.
  • Not have a history of non-compliance with sponsor requirements.

HR contractors and agency staff

  • At least one level 1 user must be the sponsor’s employee.
  • The sponsor can have additional level 1 or level 2 users who are employed by third-party organisations that provide them with HR services.
  • A temporary member of staff supplied by an agency can be a level 2 user.

UK-based legal representatives

  • The sponsor can allocate any of the roles to a UK-based legal representative, apart from the authorising officer role.
  • The sponsor’s representative must be qualified to give immigration advice or services.

People also ask

The employer must apply for a UK Sponsor Licence online.
Before the sponsor assign’s a Certificate of Sponsorship to a worker, it may be required to check whether the worker needs an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate.
The sponsor will need to do this if they are sponsoring a worker on any of the following:

  • Skilled Worker visa.
  • Senior or Specialist Worker visa (Global Business Mobility).
  • Graduate Trainee visa (Global Business Mobility).
  • UK Expansion Worker visa (Global Business Mobility).
  • Service Supplier visa (Global Business Mobility).
  • Secondment Worker visa (Global Business Mobility).
  • Government Authorised Exchange visa.
  • International Agreement visa.

If the sponsor is sponsoring a worker on any other visa, then it is not required to do anything.

  • A sponsor will get an A-rated licence if the application is approved.
  • ‘A-rating – full Sponsor Licence’ – an A-rated Sponsor Licence allows the sponsor to start assigning Certificates of Sponsorship.
  • The business also gets listed in the register of sponsors.
The employer needs to pay a fee when they apply. The fee depends on the type of licence they are applying for and what type of organisation they are into.

Type of licence Fee for small or charitable sponsors Fee for medium or large sponsors
Worker £536 £1,476
Temporary Worker £536 £536
Worker and Temporary Worker £536 £ 1,476
Add a Worker licence to an existing Temporary Worker licence No fee £940
Column 1 Value 5 No fee No fee

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