Charity Worker Visa Sponsorship - Overview
The Charity Worker route is the UK immigration path designed for foreign nationals to come to the UK to do unpaid voluntary work for a charitable organisation. Paid work in a charitable organisation does not qualify as charity work for UK immigration. A charity worker is a temporary worker, so only temporary roles are allowed in this visa category.
The Charity Worker route is not a route to permanent settlement, and the maximum period a charity worker is allowed to stay in the UK is 12 months.
As a charitable organisation, you’ll need to sponsor foreign workers via the Charity Worker route to do unpaid voluntary work for you if they’re not already settled workers in the UK. This includes EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens who arrived in the UK after December 2020. Foreign nationals with settled status under EU settlement schemes, those with indefinite leave to remain or enter, and most Irish citizens do not require sponsorship.
If you want to sponsor foreign nationals who enter the UK as visitors, they will need to leave the UK first and apply for entry clearance, as they cannot switch from a Visitor visa to the Charity Worker route.
To sponsor a charity worker, you must have a valid sponsorship licence that covers the Charity Worker route and certify that the worker meets the immigration requirements before assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to them.
- Charity Worker Visa Sponsorship – Overview
- Eligibility Criteria for a Charity Worker Sponsor Licence
- Requirements for the Charity Worker Sponsorship Licence
- How to Apply for a Charity Worker Sponsor Licence
- Documents Required for Charity Worker Sponsor Licence Application.
- Your Obligations as a Licenced Charity Worker Sponsor
- Assigning a Certificate Of Sponsorship (CoS) to a Charity Worker
- Cost of Charity Worker Sponsor Licence Application
- How can Total Law Help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Eligibility Criteria for a Charity Worker Sponsor Licence
You must meet either of the following criteria to become eligible for the Charity Worker sponsor licence.
- A registered, excluded, or exempt UK charity under the relevant charity regulations in your area – the Charity Commission for England and Wales, the Scottish Charity Commission, or the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland.
- An ecclesiastical corporation, either body corporate or corporation sole, established primarily for charity purposes.
Other eligibility requirements include:
- You must have no history of fraud, money laundering, or unspent criminal convictions for immigration-related offences.
- The sponsored roles must be genuine vacancies that will help you achieve your charity goals.
- Your licence must not have been revoked in the last 12 months.
- You must have adequate human resource systems to carry out the sponsorship management roles.
Requirements for the Charity Worker Sponsorship Licence
To sponsor a charity worker, you are required to:
- Hold a valid sponsorship Licence.
- Provide proof of your charitable status.
- Assign a Certificate of Sponsorship to an eligible charity worker.
- Pay the Certificate of Sponsorship application fee.
- Ensure that the charity worker you’re sponsoring has the financial means to support themselves and any dependents they bring along.
- Monitor the worker to ensure compliance with the United Kingdom Visas and Immigration (UKVI) regulations and report any infringement to the Home Office.
How to Apply for a Charity Worker Sponsor Licence
You can apply for a Charity Worker sponsor licence online via the Home Office website. Simply complete the online application form, pay the application fee, and submit your application. Once you complete the online application, you must send the following to the Home Office to validate your application.
- Original submission sheet signed and dated by the authorising officer.
- All the mandatory supporting documents listed on the submission sheet.
These must be submitted within five working days of submitting the online application. If you already hold a sponsorship licence, but it does not cover sponsorship for charity workers, you can apply to include this route on your licence.
The Home Office will ensure you meet the requirements before deciding on your application. Therefore, providing accurate and up-to-date information is essential to avoid issues or delays in the application process. It’s best to seek professional assistance when applying for a sponsorship licence to ensure a stress-free and seamless process. Our immigration lawyers are always available to help. Call us at 0333 305 9375 or contact us online to speak to an expert today.
If the Home Office approves your application, they’ll assign you a Sponsor Management System login ID and password to manage your sponsor licence. A Charity Worker sponsor licence is valid for four years. You must renew it before it expires to continue sponsoring overseas charity workers.
Documents Required for Charity Worker Sponsor Licence Application.
In addition to your online sponsor licence application submission, you must provide the following documents to validate your application within five days of completing the online application.
- Proof that you’re created for charitable purposes (if you’re an ecclesiastical corporation).
- Where applicable, proof of compliance with National Minimum Wage and Working Time Regulations.
- Evidence of your charitable status – proof of registration with relevant charity regulating authority.
You do not need to send proof of registration if you’re applying under the name registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales, the Scottish Charity Commission, or the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland. The UKVI will conduct an online check with the relevant body to prove your registration. If you’re applying with a different name, you must provide the name under which you registered for the Home Office to carry out their checks.
If you’re yet to register under the relevant charity legislation, you must submit an explanation of why you are not registered along with your application.
For charities based in Northern Ireland that have yet to register with the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, you must provide evidence that you have obtained charitable status for tax purposes from HMRC.
Your Obligations as a Licenced Charity Worker Sponsor
Holding a sponsorship licence comes with specific responsibilities, and failure to meet with them can cause the Home Office to suspend or revoke your licence. The duties of a Charity Worker sponsor include:
- Ensuring that overseas workers meet the requirements for sponsorship and are coming to fill eligible roles in line with the UKVI sponsorship policies.
- Monitoring your foreign volunteers to ensure compliance with the conditions of their permission to remain and other UK immigration rules.
- Reporting any issues with foreign volunteers or changes in circumstances to the UKVI. You must notify the Home Office once the worker starts work. You must also report issues such as failure to resume, absence without permission, change in work location, change in job duties, or withdrawal of sponsorship to the UKVI.
- Keeping updated records of migrant workers’ immigration status and documents and providing them to the Home Office on demand.
- Reporting changes to your organisation and business operations to the Home Office. You must report a change in organisational structure, change of business premises, bankruptcy, merger, or closure to the UKVI.
Failure to keep up with your sponsorship duties will attract penalties, such as downgrading your licence from an A-rating to a B-rating, suspension, or revocation.
Assigning a Certificate Of Sponsorship (CoS) to a Charity Worker
Once your sponsor licence application is approved, you can assign CoS to prospective workers using your Sponsor Management System (SMS) account. The worker will submit their UK Charity Worker visa application using the assigned Certificate of Sponsorship.
You must maintain your licence A-rating to continue sponsoring new foreign workers. You cannot sponsor a new charity worker on a B-rated licence. However, you can continue sponsoring existing workers to extend their stay.
To assign a CoS, you must first apply to the Home Office via your SMS account and pay the Certificate of Sponsorship fee. The CoS must confirm:
- The worker is being sponsored for the Charity Worker route.
- The worker’s personal information, such as name, date of birth, nationality, contact details, and passport details.
- The duration of the charity work – start and end dates.
- Location of work – main address where the charity worker will work and other work addresses, if any.
- Job title.
- The relevant occupation code.
- The details of the primary duties the charity worker will be carrying out.
- Information on how you found the worker – if through a recruitment agency, provide details of the agency.
- Whether you intend to provide maintenance for the worker and dependents, if any.
- That there is no remuneration for the work except reasonable expenses.
It’s essential to carry out due diligence when assigning a CoS to a foreign worker, as you will be responsible for ensuring they meet the Home Office’s requirements and comply with immigration rules. A breach of the UKVI policies and regulations can lead to your Sponsor Licence suspension or outright revocation.
By assigning a CoS to a migrant worker, you’re guaranteeing that the worker:
- Will be doing eligible charity work under the National Minimum Wage and Working Times Regulations.
- Genuinely intends and can efficiently carry out the duties for which they are being sponsored.
- Does not intend to take up any paid employment other than the charity work they’re being sponsored to do or additional unpaid voluntary work in the same role as the sponsored one.
- Will comply with the conditions of their temporary residence permit.
- Will leave the UK at the end of their permit tenure unless they extend their visa or get permission to remain through another immigration route.
Cost of Charity Worker Sponsor Licence Application
The application fee for a sponsor licence for charitable organisations is £536. If you have an existing sponsor licence that does not cover the Charity Worker route, you can send an application to include it in your licence at no cost.
You’ll also pay a CoS fee before assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship to your voluntary worker. Each CoS cost £25.
How can Total Law Help?
It’s best to seek professional assistance when applying for a Sponsor Licence to ensure compliance with the Home Office’s regulations. It will also enable you to focus more on running your business while experts handle immigration matters.
Our trained Sponsor Licence solicitors will provide all the guidance and assistance you need to obtain a Charity Worker Sponsor licence. We will assess your eligibility and provide guidance on the procedures and documents required. We will also double-check your application to ensure compliance with the Home Office’s requirements.
You can call us at 0333 305 9375 or contact us online for immediate assistance.
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Any eligible charity organisation with an A-rated sponsor licence can sponsor a foreigner for a Charity Worker visa.
Foreign volunteers you sponsor via the Charity Worker route must only perform voluntary fieldwork that is directly related to your charity’s goals. You cannot use this route to sponsor workers who will engage in routine activities like sales, administrative work, or fundraising. Also, you cannot use the Charity Worker sponsor licence to sponsor a worker to fill a permanent role temporarily.
There’s no specific number of charity workers you can sponsor per year. It is subject to the Home Office’s approval.