What is a Sponsorship Licence and who is required to hold it?
If a UK based organisation wishes to hire an overseas candidate who is not an EEA national, they will need to obtain Sponsor Licence. This allows them to hire internationally and to attract skill-set they require that might otherwise not be available in the UK.
In this particular case, the business was looking to sponsor an employee, who had worked for them for several months while he was under Tier 4 visa. Those who have Tier 4 visas are allowed to work in the UK without the need of being sponsored under Tier 2 route. This means that an organisation that hires a Tier 4 student, is not required to have a Sponsorship Licence. However, the downside to it is that during term time the Tier 4 student is allowed to work only a limited amount of hours normally 10 or 20 hours per week. In our client’s case, they had hired the migrant after his term had ended, so he had been working full time, but that had meant that by the time his probation period was ending and the practice was secure in the knowledge his skill-set and experience matched with what they needed, they were nearly out of time to attempt to resolve his visa issue.
To ensure that the demanding task of securing Sponsor Licence in such a short time can be achieved, our business immigration team came up with a step-by-step action plan.
What is the process of applying for Sponsorship Licence and how long does it take?
The process of applying for Sponsor Licence Application can seem quite straight forward in the beginning. It involves and online application which is to be followed by supplying the Home Office with required documents. However, there are numerous nuances that need to be taken into account. Those include clear understanding of what the required evidence is and what information needs to be supplied; what the underlying principals of granting Sponsorship Licence are; how to prove the need for a licence etc. Therefore, there is simply no substitute for a strong legal representation in these matters, as it was proved in the present case.
First, the team carried out a risk assessment in respect of the practice, to decide whether Home Office would find them as low risk or high risk applicant. This was a crucial step, as there was particular urgency to this matter. As the migrant’s Tier 4 visa was expiring in less then two months and our lawyers were very conscious of the fact that it was very tight time-line, since the preparatory stages of such applications often take weeks, due to the client requiring some time to put the evidence together. Further to this, there is also up to 8 week period for the Home Office to process the application. To add on that the time the migrant would need to prepare and make his application for Tier 2 (general) visa, our lawyers were very clear that we had a very sensitive case on our hands.
After discussions and independent research carried out on the business, the team decided that the practice would most likely be deemed a low risk applicant. In most cases the businesses that are capable of showing a strong business background, good reputation, robust HR practices and are not operating in the areas of trade that have previously been frequently known for breaching immigration rules, will be considered as low risk.
The team was then able to advise the client that we had good chances of getting the Home Office to process the application within 3-4 weeks. This is because in low risk cases the Home Office will be unlikely to carry out visits prior to deciding on the application, thus cutting the decision making time by several weeks.
How we help Sponsor Licence applicants
As mentioned above, a top immigration solicitor in a process of applying for Sponsorship Licence is indispensable. Our team quickly assessed the matter and created an action plan, which was followed by assessing the likelihood of a Home office visit. The next step was to ensure that the application could be put together quickly, due to the time constraints, and that it would be comprehensively prepared and well argued.
An application that has weaknesses, is lacking in evidence or information will be refused or in best case will lead to delays in processing. Therefore it was important to ensure that the documents and information the Home Office required to make a decision on the application were sent to the Home Office at the onset.
To ensure that the application would be put together in the least amount of time, without compromising the strength of the application, our team proceeded to analysing the client’s practice from the point of view of the rules surrounding Sponsorship Licence applications. Home Office provides a detailed guidance on what type of evidence can be used in support of a Sponsorship Licence application, it is comprehensive, but also very technical in the sense that it needs to be followed to the letter, otherwise the applicants risk a refusal. We quickly identified which documents out of a long list of the ones accepted by the Home Office where more likely to be easily available to our client. It was an important stage to clear as we did not want to waste time by having the client to attempt secure evidence that would have taken him too long to gather.
Armed with the list provided by our lawyers, the client was able to quickly provide us with the necessary evidence and information. While our client was gathering the evidence, our team was busy building legal arguments in respect of the need for the Licence as well as the urgency of it. It is an important element, to clearly set out the reasons for the application for the licence, as the genuine need for the Sponsorship Licence is one of the requirements to be granted the Licence.
With all the preparatory stages cleared, our team completed the online application and then assisted the client in nominating the key personnel and submitting the application. Following the online submission, the required evidential pack was sent to the Home Office almost immediately.
Within less then 3 weeks after submission, our client was granted the Sponsor Licence and an unrestricted certificate of sponsorship, which is required for sponsoring migrants switching from Tier 4 to Tier 2. Following this, the migrant was able to make a successful application and remain in the UK as a Tier 2 (general) visa holder and continue his employment with our client.
Follow up work
Having been granted Sponsorship Licence is not the end of the road. The businesses that are holders of Sponsor Licence have huge responsibilities in monitoring the migrants and overall, ensuring that the Licence is not used in a way that circumvents the immigration rules. For these reasons the Sponsor Licence holders have ongoing responsibilities and duties to observe.
To ensure that our client would be able to meet those, our team concluded the work with a detailed letter of advice, setting out the Sponsor Licence holders duties and responsibilities and various ways we can help in ensuring those are met.
To find out more about how we can assist you with obtaining a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence or managing your compliance, please contact our London office on 020 3372 5125 or complete our online enquiry form to make an appointment. Find out more information on our fees here.