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What is a sponsor licence?

A sponsor licence enables UK companies to hire foreign workers.

There are different types of sponsor licences, depending on the type of worker the employer wishes to employ.

Who do you not need a sponsor licence for?

You do not need a sponsor licence to employ:

  1. Irish citizens
  2. Those with settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme
  3. Those with indefinite leave to remain

What are the types of sponsor licence?

A licence is required to employ international workers under:

  1. The Skilled Worker route
  2. The Senior or Specialist Worker route
  3. The Minister of Religion route
  4. The International Sportsperson route

A Temporary Worker licence enables employers to employ international staff on a temporary basis.

Who can be a sponsor?

Only organisations can obtain a sponsor licence, not individuals.

What are the requirements to apply for a sponsor licence?

  1. The organisation must be genuine and operating and/or trading lawfully in the UK
  2. The organisation must be based in the UK
  3. The organisation must not represent a threat to immigration control (with no evidence of previous non-compliance with immigration rules, no evidence of certain crimes, and no revocation of a sponsor licence in the last 12 months)
  4. The organisation must have HR and recruitment systems in place to ensure its ability to comply with the sponsor’s duties and responsibilities
  5. The organisation must meet the key personnel requirements set out below
  6. The organisation must pay the minimum salary threshold for the role (please note this threshold depends on the type of worker, the type of role, the candidate’s qualifications, the candidate’s age and whether the candidate is classed as a new entrant)

There may be further suitability requirements depending on the type of worker you are sponsoring.

Who are key personnel and what do they do?

To obtain a sponsor licence, you will need to nominate individuals within the licence application form to assume specific responsibilities to manage the licence, with these people being called ‘key personnel’.

You will need:

  1. An authorising officer (a senior figure with ultimate responsibility regarding the sponsor licence)
  2. A key contact for the Home Office to communicate with
  3. Level 1 and 2 Users to administer the licence on a day-to-day basis using the Sponsorship Management System (SMS)

Please note that it is possible for the same person to hold several of the above roles.

An individual nominated for one of the above roles must:

  • Have no unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences
  • Be permanently based in the UK during their role
  • Normally be a paid staff member or engaged by the UK organisation as an officeholder

What compliance duties are there once you have obtained a sponsor licence?

There are compliance duties to be met regarding:

  1. Record-keeping re: sponsored workers and their right to work documentation.
  2. Monitoring and reporting re: sponsored employees.
  3. Absence monitoring re: sponsored employees
  4. Notifying the Home Office of changes in circumstances

What is a certificate of sponsorship?

A certificate of sponsorship is an electronic document including a unique reference number issued by the sponsor to their prospective employee.

This reference number is needed for the sponsored employee to apply for their UK work visa.

A certificate of sponsorship can be applied for using the Sponsor Management System (SMS).

What is the difference between a defined and undefined certificate of sponsorship?

A defined certificate of sponsorship is needed for a prospective employee applying for a Skilled Worker visa from outside the UK.

An undefined certificate of sponsorship is:

  1. For applicants in the UK applying for a Skilled Worker visa to remain in the UK
  2. For applicants applying under other routes, either in the UK or abroad.

When must a certificate of sponsorship be used by?

A certificate of sponsorship must be used within three months of the date of assignment.

The employee to be sponsored can apply up to three months before the work start date stated on the certificate of sponsorship.

How much does a certificate of sponsorship cost?

This depends on the type of sponsor licence you have. A certificate of sponsorship can cost between £25 to £239.

Please note that you may also have to pay the Immigration Skills charge.

How long does it take to receive a sponsor licence?

You should allow for around 8-10 weeks for the application to be processed, but some applications may take longer.

You may apply for a pre-licence priority service for an additional £500 should you wish to receive a decision within 10 working days.

How much does it cost to apply for a sponsor licence?

This depends on the size and type of the organisation.

  • Sponsor licence fee for small or charitable sponsors – £536 (please note that to be classified as a small or charitable sponsor, your business must meet two of the three following requirements: (i) 50 or less employees, (ii) total assets or £5.1 million or less, (iii) an annual turnover of £10.2 million or less)
  • Sponsor licence fee for medium or large sponsors – £1,476

What is a licence rating?

An A-rated licence allows you to assign certificates of sponsorship.

Your rating may be downgraded to a B-rating licence if you fail to meet your sponsor responsibilities. You cannot issue new certificates of sponsorship on a B-rating.

To upgrade back to an A-rating, you will need to pay for an action plan and follow this.

What to do if your sponsor licence is revoked?

There is no right of appeal for revocation of a sponsor licence.

You can reapply for a licence after 12 months of revocation.

Examples of how we've helped people like you

Danielle invites you to take a look at her blog, where you will see the diverse range of clients that she has helped.

If you have any questions about the process or would like to apply for a sponsor licence, please contact Danielle or call on 020 7267 4133. Danielle will only charge you for the first consultation if you decide to become her client and if she can assist you.

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