A UK employer is required to obtain a Sponsorship Licence from UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) to sponsor non-EEA nationals to work in the UK under the Points Based System. The Home Office have implemented specific requirements for UK employers to comply with in order to make a successful application.
Once a Sponsorship Licence is granted by the Home Office, it is usually valid for four years following which the employer will need to renew their licence. It is worth noting that there are two types of licences that an employer can obtain; an employer can either apply for a licence to sponsor Tier 2 skilled workers or Tier 5 skilled workers. Alternatively, an employer can obtain a licence to sponsor both depending on the type of employment to be undertaken and the duration of employment.
What are the requirements to apply for a Sponsorship Licence?
Employers must demonstrate that:
- The company is genuine
- The company is registered and currently trading in the UK
- The company employs reliable, dependent and honest employees to fulfil the roles for the key personnel
- The company’s HR system complies with UKVI requirements to ensure that it is able to adhere to the duties and responsibilities of a sponsor
- The company is attempting to fulfil a genuine vacancy at the appropriate level and salary as required by the relevant visa under the Points Based System
An employer will be required to also present their case in order to satisfy the genuineness test; this is a subjective test and as such the manner in which your case is presented will have a significant impact on the application.
Employers must therefore demonstrate to UKVI that the role which they seek to fill meets the Tier 2 requirements under the Points Based System (if applicable). Additionally, an employer must show that the chosen role fits within the organisation and is also relevant to the type of business and most importantly, that it is rational to hire for the role.
Employers must submit an online application form which will be scrutinised and heavily assessed before UKVI can make a decision. An employer must also provide documentary evidence to demonstrate that they meet the above requirements; it is very important that the supporting documents are provided to UKVI within five working days from the date of submitting the online application. If an employer is unable to provide the supporting documents within the imposed deadline, it could render the application as invalid or the application can be refused which may negatively impact future applications.
As mentioned above, you must appoint employees for the following roles:
- Authorising Officer – this role must be fulfilled by a senior employee who carries the main recruitment responsibility at the company
- Key Contact – the employee fulfilling this role will be the person of contact between the company and UKVI
- Level 1 User – this role will require the employee to carry out the daily tasks required on the Sponsorship Management System
- Level 2 User – this role does not allow the employee to undertake the same level of activities as a Level 1 User however, they will be able to assign Certificate of Sponsorships and inform UKVI about activity of skilled migrant workers
Once UKVI have granted the Sponsorship Licence, the employer will be able to access the Sponsorship Management System to meet the above duties.
It should be noted that in order to appoint an employee for the above roles, they will need to meet certain eligibility criterion which is set out in the UKVI policy guidance. It is therefore vital to obtain clear and succinct advice on this matter from an experienced immigration lawyer in order to allocate the roles correctly, please CONTACT US for further information.
What supporting documents will need to be provided to UKVI?
As mentioned, an employer will need to provide documentary evidence to demonstrate that they satisfy the requirements. Below is an example of documents that will be required however, this is not an exhaustive list.
- A cover letter explaining why the company is applying for a licence, the details of the skilled migrant workers if the company has already chosen who to sponsor, the employer must also provide information about the company and type of business they are such as such opening times, location and services they provide
- The company will need to create a hierarchy chart setting out the structure of their business
- The company must provide evidence that the business has a corporate bank account approved by the Financial Conduct Authority
- The company must provide a certificate of VAT registration
The above list outlines some of the straight forward documents to provide however, the UKVI guidance lists further documents which must be submitted depending on the type of business.
Once an employer has provided the above required documents as well as any other applicable documents requested in the guidance, UKVI will begin assessing the application which may include a visit to the business premises to ascertain whether the company is operating in line with UKVI requirements, this is usually referred to as a compliance visit.
An important aspect of the compliance visit relates to the company’s ability to correctly carry out right to work checks. This is to ensure that the company is not hiring illegal workers and only those who have the right to work in the UK. Failing to adhere to the right to work checks can result in a serious fine up to £20,000 per illegal worker and/or sent to jail for five years.
CONTACT US, our specialist immigration lawyers if you do not know how to undertake the right to work checks. Our team would be happy to guide you through the process to ensure that you are undertaking the right to work checks in accordance with UKVI standards.
What are the common reasons for the refusal of a Sponsorship Licence?
The guidance published by UKVI is complex and at times, it is not clear. Sponsorship Licence applications can be easily refused if a potential sponsor has not followed the requirements correctly.
Some of the most common reasons for refusal are:
- The company is unable to pass the genuineness test which means that UKVI are not convinced that the role is required or that there is a genuine vacancy to be filled.
- The company has not been following the right to work checks and/or have not kept copies of the relevant documents to show that a migrant worker has the right to work.
- UKVI is not convinced of the company’s ability to pass a compliance audit or the company has not been able to pass the compliance audit.
The process of applying for a licence from UKVI is lengthy and is extremely difficult to undertake without specialist advice and guidance. A refusal could hinder any future applications which in turn, could negatively impact the future of a company. To avoid an invalid application or a refusal decision from UKVI, it is vital to contact competent immigration lawyers who have handled such applications with ease.
CONTACT US and experienced team of dedicated immigration lawyers will be glad to assist you in making a successful application.