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Sponsor License Application

The UK Sponsor Licence, formerly known as the Tier 2 Sponsor licence, allows UK businesses to recruit and hire skilled workers from overseas. Learn more about the sponsor licence application process here.

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    Hiring U.S. workers in the UK

    To employ overseas workers in the UK, a business will be required to make a Sponsor License application. This includes those employing individuals on a Skilled Worker Visa, foreign nationals in the UK on an Intra Company Transfer Visa, or workers who are in the UK on Temporary Work Visa schemes. All of these workers will need to be sponsored by a UK business with a sponsorship licence.

    Sponsorship licences are granted for a period of four years and can be renewed if the Home Office has not found the sponsor licence holder to be non-compliant with the terms.

    Before beginning a Sponsor Licence application, a business must make sure they meet all the conditions. Staff must then be assigned the necessary roles to manage sponsorship. Once this is done, the application can be made online or by post.

    Make an inquiry online or get in touch at +1 844 290 6312 today for more information and advice for a UK-based business interested in employing overseas workers.

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    What are the Sponsor Licence application requirements?

    To be eligible to begin a UK Sponsor Licence application, a business must be based in the UK and meet the following requirements:

    • Prove that they are a legitimate business operating and/or trading lawfully in the UK
    • Prove that the foreign skilled worker is required for this specific job
    • Not have a history of failing to meet sponsorship duties
    • Not have any unspent criminal convictions
    • Pay an appropriate salary rate to their migrant employees

    The Home Office will expect proof that the business is genuine and has a legitimate need for an overseas worker. Sponsors are no longer required to conduct a Resident Market test however, they must be able to prove to the Home Office that the employment of a foreign worker is necessary for their business. Therefore, the Home Office may intend to validate this need through a visit to the company during the application process.

    Which workers can I sponsor?

    A Sponsor License will be needed to employ anyone from outside the UK under a

    • Skilled Worker Visa (this includes Sportsperson Visa and Minister of Religion Visa)
    • Global Business Mobility Visa (this includes the Senior or Specialist Worker Visa formerly known as the Intra-company transfer visa)
    • Temporary Work Visa
    • International Sportsperson Visa

    Depending on the type of worker required, the relevant Sponsorship Licence application will need to be made. For example, a skilled worker sponsor licence for the Skilled Worker Visa, etc. Each type of sponsorship licence will require a specific set of requirements. For more information regarding the eligibility criteria for your specific sponsor licence applications, get in touch with one of our experienced immigration attorneys for detailed advice.

    What are Temporary Worker Sponsorship Licenses?

    Foreign nationals who would like to travel to the UK to take part in temporary work as skilled workers will need to apply for a Temporary Worker Visa. This visa is divided into the following subcategories:

    • Creative Worker (for artists or entertainers who would like to come to the UK to work for a period of up to 2 years)
    • Charity Worker (unpaid charity workers can stay in the UK for up to 1 year)
    • Religious Worker (individuals working in a religious order or organization can stay in the UK for a period of up to 2 years)
    • Government Authorised Exchange (foreign nationals coming to the UK to work on research projects or training for the purpose of exchanging knowledge)
    • International Agreement (foreign nationals such as government workers who are coming to the UK under a job role that is covered by international law)
    • Graduate Trainee under the Global Business Mobility Visa (for foreign workers who are transferring to their employer’s UK branch to take part in a graduate training program)
    • Service Supplier under the Global Business Mobility Visa (or foreign workers under contract who are coming to the UK to provide services with a UK company)
    • UK Expansion Worker under the Global Business Mobility Visa (for foreign workers who are sent to the UK for the purposes of setting a new branch or subsidiary of an overseas business)
    • Secondment Worker under the Global Business Mobility (for foreign workers who are transferred to the UK for the purposes of working at different UK businesses as part of a high-value contract)
    • Seasonal Worker (Foreign workers can come to the UK for up to 6 months in order to work in ‘edible horticulture’ tasks such as picking fruit and vegetables)

    How to apply for a sponsor licence?

    You can submit your Sponsor License application online. Along with completing your online sponsor licence application, you will also need to provide adequate supporting documents to the Home Office which will use them to review your case. You don’t need to provide all the required documents if you are:

    • A public body recognized by the UK government, such as a local authority
    • A company listed on the London Stock Exchange Main Market

    If you fail to attach all the relevant documents about your business and your circumstances, your application may be refused.

    As part of the sponsor licence application process, you will be asked to make sure that your business is eligible and has no staff members who have any history of immigration offenses, crimes or history of failure to meet sponsorship duties. In addition, you will also be asked to nominate employees who will be responsible for the management of the sponsorship licence in the Sponsorship Management System (SMS). These employees must be senior members of the company but not shareholders.

    After your sponsorship license and documents have been submitted, the business or company will then need to pay the Home Office fee. The cost of this sponsor licence fee will vary depending on the type of visa you intend to sponsor and the size of the business.

    Most sponsorship applications are processed within 8 weeks. During that time, some businesses will receive a visit from the UKVI as part of the application process.

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            What are the documents required for sponsorship?

            There are a variety of documents that you will need to send to support your sponsorship licence. The specific document checklist will depend on a variety of factors such as the type of visa you wish to sponsor and whether or not you are representing a public body, start-up, franchise, or SME.

            Some of the documents you will need to submit may include the following:

            • A recent business bank statement
            • Any documents pertaining to the employer’s liability insurance (this must be at least £5 million and from an authorized insurer)
            • Certificate of VAT registration
            • Any documents pertaining to the employer’s registration with HMRC such as PAYE and Accounts Office Reference Number
            • Any documents pertaining to the ownership or lease of business premises or rental agreements
            • Any evidence that the business has local planning authority consent or the appropriate planning permission necessary to run the business at their trading address
            • Documents pertaining to the company’s latest audited or unaudited accounts
            • Evidence of the business’s registration with a regulatory body that inspects/monitors the business (if applicable)

            Since most sponsorship licence applications require a UK resident to act as key personnel in the Sponsor Management System (SMS), the sponsor applicant may need to submit documents relating to the company’s HR processes to prove that they will be in compliance with their sponsorship duties.

            These documents along with a detailed letter must be sent to the Home Office visa email within 5 working days. These documents can be submitted in pdf format, although jpeg and png formats are also accepted.

            What are the duties and responsibilities of Sponsorship Management?

            Sponsor licence holders must appoint employees within their business to act in key personnel roles that will manage the sponsor licence duties and responsibilities through the Sponsorship Management System (SMS). These roles include the following:

            • The key contact. This person will act as the main point of contact between the business and the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).
            • Authorising officer. This role is for a person in a senior position who is responsible for the actions of the staff and representatives.
            • Level 1 user. The person in this role will be responsible for the day-to-day management of the sponsor licence.

            If necessary, these roles can all be carried out by just one person. However, the Level 1 user must be an employee of the business whereas the key contact and authorising officer can be filled by third-party organizations. The individuals filling these roles will need to undergo certain background and security checks.

            Furthermore, to keep their sponsorship licence, the sponsor must abide by the following requirements:

            • Verify that their hired foreign workers have the necessary skills and qualifications for their role
            • Assign the appropriate Certificate of Sponsorships (CoS) to foreign workers who are suitable for the job position
            • Inform the UKVI is they have discovered that their employee is not in compliance with the terms and conditions of their visa
            employee at work
            people on a park bench discussing business

            How long is a Sponsor Licence valid?

            Sponsor licences are valid for 4 years with a possibility for extension if the licence holder has not violated any terms of the sponsorship duties and can still meet the eligibility criteria.

            The Home Office will automatically notify organizations to renew their sponsorship licence before they are set to expire. Organizations must make sure that they apply for a renewal before their deadline expires.

            Businesses who would like to renew their Sponsor Licence will need to make an application for renewal through the SMS and pay the designated sponsor licence fee. Applications for renewal can be submitted no sooner than 3 months before the current sponsor licence is set to expire.

            If the sponsor licence expires before renewal is approved, the immigration status of foreign workers in the UK will be at risk. Therefore, it is highly recommended you stay up to date with the latest changes and always have a valid UK sponsorship licence for your business.

            Get in touch with our expert immigration attorneys to receive assistance on your visa application. Learn more

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              For small or charitable organizations the sponsor licence fees are as follows:

              • Worker Sponsorship licence: £536
              • Temporary Worker Sponsorship licence: £536
              • Worker and Temporary Worker Sponsorship licence: £536

              It should be noted that as a small or charitable organization, there is no fee for adding a Worker Licence to an existing Temporary Worker Licence or for adding a Temporary Worker licence to an existing Worker licence.

              For medium or large sponsors, the sponsor licence fees are as follows:

              • Worker Sponsorship licence: £1,476
              • Temporary Worker Sponsorship licence: £536
              • Worker and Temporary Worker Sponsorship licence: £1,476
              • Adding a Worker Licence to an existing Temporary Worker Licence: £940
              • Adding a Temporary Worker licence to an existing Worker licence: no fee

              Sponsors will need to pay this fee every time they renew their sponsorship licence.

              How can IAS help me hire US workers?

              The lawyers at IAS can help with every stage of the sponsorship application process. Our packages ensure that the applying business meets all the expectations set out by the Home Office. We also provide advice and assistance in choosing the right Sponsor License for your business’s needs.

              This service will prepare businesses for the ‘Genuine Business Test’ and the visit from the Home Office. Our advisers can inform staff of how to operate the Sponsorship Management System before they begin their application. Make an inquiry online or get in touch at +1 844 290 6312 today for more information and advice for a UK-based business interested in employing overseas workers.

              business meeting

              Related pages for your continued reading.

              Frequently Asked Questions

              If the application is successful, the UK business will receive an A grade license rating from the Home Office. They will then be placed on the UK Sponsorship License Register.

              This will mean that they will be able to apply for Certificates of Sponsorship for any non-EEA workers they intend to bring to the UK for a suitable job. They can do this via the Sponsorship Management System (SMS).

              From the date of issue, the Sponsor License is valid for four years. If companies do not follow the strict duties outlined by the Home Office, they face a number of penalties. These include Sponsor License suspension, Sponsor License revocation, or a Civil Penalty.

              The Home Office may refuse sponsorship applications and applications for renewal for many reasons. The most common include:

              • The business’ failure to pass a Compliance Audit
              • Failure to provide sufficient documents for sponsored migrant workers
              • Not informing the Home Office of significant changes in the running of the business
              • Not responding to Home Office communications in time
              • Failure to pass a ‘genuineness test’
              • Failure to comply with Home Office security standards

              If your Sponsor License application is refused you will not be allowed to reapply for another six months. This period is known as a Sponsor License cooling-off period.

              If you submit a Sponsor licence application before this time has passed, it is likely that it will be rejected and you will lose your application fee.

              Organisations can renew their sponsor licence by logging on to their sponsorship management system (SMS), submitting a renewal application, and paying the appropriate fee.

              To renew the sponsor licence, a Level 1 user must submit the application via the SMS. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to renew your sponsor licence:

              1. The appropriate person should log on to the online sponsorship management system and go to the Licence Summary, Application and Services tab
              2. Select Licence Renewal
              3. Choose the appropriate fee based on your organization’s size and type
              4. Click Next
              5. On the Licence Renewal payment screen, choose OK to continue with the payment option
              6. Pay the fee when prompted
              7. The Licence Renewal Submission Success screen will appear
              8. Select the Submission Sheet
              9. Print and/ or save a copy and keep the document with the rest of your sponsorship documents
              10. Track the progress of your application visa on the Applications and Renewals Tracking page
              11. Wait for a decision on your renewal

              It is essential that employers renew their sponsor licence in advance of the expiration of the licence. It should be renewed every four years and renewal applications may be submitted no earlier than three months in advance of the expiry date.

              Employers may access all the details related to their licence in their SMS. If an employer fails to renew their sponsor licence in time, they will not legally be allowed to employ non-UK workers. Strict penalties apply to organisations that fail to hold the correct sponsorship permissions.

              Before renewing your licence, you should be sure that all the details on your account are correct, and that UKVI has been informed of any changes relating to your business, staff, or employees.

              Not all sponsor licence renewal applications are granted. If you need support in submitting your sponsor licence renewal application, contact IAS for an immediate discussion about how we can help.

              Businesses are considered to be a small sponsor if 2 of the following apply to them:

              • The business has an annual turnover of £10.2 million or less
              • The business’s total assets are worth £5.1 million or less
              • The business has 5o employers or fewer

              To be considered as a charitable sponsor, the organization must be either:

              • A registered charity in England or Wales
              • A registered charity in Scotland
              • A registered charity in Northern Ireland
              • An excepted charity
              • An exempt charity
              • An ecclesiastical corporation that was established for charitable purposes

              The lawyers at IAS are some of the best immigration lawyers in the UK. They have extensive knowledge of Sponsorship License applications and business law. IAS can help ensure the chances of success for any business are maximized by doing the following:

              • Ensuring that the business is eligible to obtain a Sponsor License
              • Advising you on sourcing the required HR documents and employment records
              • Informing you on time frames and helping to make sure that they are met
              • Providing advice and support on the Resident Labour Market Test
              • Maintaining contact with the Home Office on behalf of the business
              • Preparing the business for Home Office visits
              • Ensuring that all practices are compliant with expectations
              • Completing all application forms to the highest standard

              Our tailor-made Sponsorship License Application Package includes all these services. We also offer Immigration Consultancy, Immigration Audits, and training for HR departments. Contact us today at +1 844 290 6312 or use our online contact form for more information or advice for a UK-based company.