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Sponsorship Licence | 2022 | UK Immigration Experts

To hire non-UK resident workers, your entity must hold a valid sponsorship licence. We are specialists in sponsor licence applications, compliance and reinstatement of sponsorship licences

Sponsorship Licence

UK employers must have been granted a sponsorship licence by the Home Office before they can employ non-UK resident workers under the Home Offices newly introduced points-based system, this will enable them to hire applicants under the Skilled Worker visa (previously known as the Tier 2 General visa). 

Employers who do not hold a valid sponsorship licence are unable to hire migrant workers from abroad who intend to work in the UK after 1 January 2021 or extend visas for current sponsored employees. 

All sponsors must ensure that they are aware of their immigration duties, including compliance obligations. It is essential for limited companies to have coherent processes and systems in place to meet the Home Office requirements and to maintain evidence of their compliance. 

If you are applying for your first sponsorship licence for your entity, it is important to illustrate how you meet these duties from the outset. If the Home Office have concerns about your ability to meet these requirements, your application could be refused, and your Home Office fee will be at risk. 

Sponsorship Licence holders can be subject to a Home Office investigation at any time, and without notice. In the event that a Licence holder is alleged to have breached Home Office compliance requirements, the Home Office possess the power to downgrade, suspend or revoke a sponsor licence. The impact in such instances will cause an inability to hire skilled workers and your sponsored worker’s permission to remain and work in the UK. 

Application for a sponsorship licence

To apply for a sponsorship licence, the employer must illustrate that they are a genuine entity operating lawfully in the United Kingdom. You must demonstrate you are aware and capable of carrying out your visa sponsorship duties and you have implemented the appropriate HR systems and practices. 

If you are applying for a skilled worker sponsorship licence, you must demonstrate that you are offering a position of genuine employment that meets the required skill level and the relevant rate of renumeration. 

The licence application is made online an accompanies by supporting evidence which substantiates how you meet the requirements for a licence. You must provide all evidence within five days of the application being submitted, failure to do so will lead to a rejected or refused application. 

Once the Home Office receive your documents, your entity may be subject to a compliance visit from the UKVI. The Home Office will consider their findings at a compliance visit and assess whether to grant your entity with a sponsorship licence. 

It is imperative for companies to comply with the illegal working requirements which states that employees must provide documentation that proves an employee’s right to work prior to their employment of a UK company. Evidence of the right to work check must be retained by the employer. 

Sponsorship licence applications generally take 8-weeks to be determined by the Home Office. 

A sponsorship licence can be expedited, whereby an application will be determined within ten working days.

Sponsorship licence HR, compliance, and management

Once you have successfully secured your entities sponsorship licence, you must ensure that you uphold your sponsorship licence duties which includes ensuring compliance duties are met at all times, failure to do so will leave your sponsorship licence at risk including the rules of Home Office penalties. 

One of the key duties will include record keeping, both in respect of the entity and the sponsored worker. Recording keeping should include information including, but not limited to, absences, sickness and lateness. 

A sponsorship licence holder must retain evidence of the sponsored workers right to work including their passport, personal identity details, leave to remain stamps, immigration status and the period of validity of their leave to remain. Further documents include a copy of the BRP (Biometric Residence Permit), contract of employment, NI number, contact particulars and any visa specific documentation.

In addition to the requirement for sponsorship licence holders to retain records, sponsors are also under an obligation to act and notify the Home Office of changes in circumstances. The Home Office are usually updated via the Sponsorship Management System (SMS). 

For example:

  • Employers must notify the Home Office via the SMS system as to any absences within 10 working days if a sponsored worker fails to turn up to work on their first day, a contract is terminated early, a sponsored employee is absent for 10 or more days or if there is a significant change to the sponsored workers contract of employment. 
  • Changes to an entities circumstance must be updated on the SMS system within 20 days, including where a business winds down or is part of a merger, acquisition or reorganization. Any changes to business address or key personnel must be reported on the SMS system. 

Instructing Branch Austin LLP – Sponsorship Licence Experts 

Branch Austin LLP’s Corporate Immigration department can support your organisation with all aspect of your prospective UK sponsorship licence.

Whether you are looking to secure your first licence, wish to renew an existing licence, have been refused or rejected a licence application or require ongoing support with your compliance duties, our team can assist. 

Our dedicated team of Solicitors and immigration lawyers are well regarded in assisting entities from start-ups to conglomerates with their global mobility needs. Our team provide an end-to-end service from initial enquiry to the point of licence endorsement and advise on onward solutions where required. 

Our sponsorship licence services include, but are not limited to:

  • Identifying the most suitable type of licence your entity will require, including suitable key personnel. 
  • Advising on documentary evidence we will require to support your application.
  • Providing desk top audits of your HR systems and procedures in preparation for a compliance visit by the UKVI.
  • Briefing and training staff as to their responsibilities and duties. 
  • Providing advice on the UKVI ‘genuineness test’ and carrying out internal reviews with our skilled Solicitors and Immigration Lawyers to assess whether an applicant meets the relevant criteria, prior to an application going before the Home Office. 
  • Advising and assigning Certificates of Sponsorship for an entities prospective or existing employee. 
  • Applications to renew a licence.
  • Attending Home Office / UKVI compliance visits. 
  • Dealing with suspensions, revocations and civil penalties. 

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