- What is a UK Sponsor License?
- Who is eligible for a sponsor license?
- Types of Sponsor Licences
- Sponsor Licence Application Process
- How much does a sponsor licence application cost?
- What are the required documents for a Sponsor Licence application?
- What are the responsibilities of Sponsor Management roles?
- What are the responsibilities of the sponsor licence holder?
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is a UK Sponsor Licence?
To meet customer demands, launch innovative projects, and grow their business, UK companies in many sectors need to hire talent from overseas. This is standard practice in a number of industries such as agriculture, tech, hospitality, and finance.
Sponsor licences enable UK-based organisations to hire foreign employees. ‘Sponsors’ can only be organisations, not individuals. The Home Office run scheme is a way of reducing illegal immigration and misuse of overseas workers.
The UK Sponsor Licence is issued to genuine and sustainable businesses which are approved by the Home Office. The businesses must demonstrate they will provide acceptable work to skilled workers and will provide a lawful working environment.
Once granted, the sponsor licence allows companies to recruit workers from the United States to travel and work in the UK.
Who is eligible for a sponsor licence?
The main requirements to apply for a sponsor license include the following:
- The employer must be able to prove that they are a legitimate business operating and/or trading lawfully in the UK
- The employer must prove that they have a need for a foreign skilled worker
- The employer is able to prove that they can provide an appropriate salary to the foreign worker
- The sponsor licence holder is an approved sponsor to recruit foreign workers with no past history of failing to meet their sponsorship duties
In addition, employers must prove that they have the right to operate in the UK. If a job position requires a foreign national to carry out the work, the employer must prove that it is appropriate to employ a worker outside the country.
Changes to immigration rules mean the employer is no longer required to carry out a Resident Labour Market Test and will need to prove the necessity of a foreign worker in other ways.
You might want to apply for separate licences for different branches if you have several UK branches or you might need to apply for one license covering all of your linked UK entities.
You will need to submit proof of registration with either the appropriate statutory body or the body that will inspect/monitor you to operate lawfully in the UK. You may also have to provide evidence that your business is authorised to operate at your trading address.
To be granted a UK sponsor licence application, the Home Office must be satisfied with your business and the work you do. They will also consider whether or not you can offer genuine employment to people and whether or not those employees will get paid correctly and sufficiently.
Types of Sponsor Licences
An employer may only employ skilled workers for a certain amount of time and on a limited basis. The licenses can be renewed at specific times and at costs. If you need a valid sponsor licence for hiring foreign workers, you need to apply for one of the following types of licenses:
Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence
The Skilled Worker Sponsor licence allows you to hire people permanently or long-term. You will need this license to sponsor the following UK visas:
- Skilled Worker Visa – Skilled foreign workers must meet the job suitability requirements specific to their role.
- Minister of Religion – this UK visa is for individuals who are coming to work for religious organisations in the UK.
- Senior or Specialist Worker Visa (under the Global Business Mobility route) – this visa replaces the old Intra-Company Transfer visa and is for multinational companies wishing to transfer established employees to the UK.
- International Sportsperson Visa – this visa is available for elite athletes and coaches who are coming to work in the UK
Temporary Worker license
The Temporary Worker license enables you to employ people temporarily. It can be used to sponsor the following UK Temporary Visas:
- Creative Worker Visa – this visa allows professionals who work in the entertainment industry to come to the UK to work for a period of up to 2 years.
- Charity Worker Visa – this visa allows unpaid employees of a charity to stay in the UK for a period of up to 1 year.
- Government Authorized Exchange Worker Visa – this visa allows professionally trained individuals, such as doctors, scientists, and engineers, to come to the UK for short-time work experience.
- Graduate Trainee Visa – this visa is under the Global Business Mobility route and allows the transfer of foreign workers to come to the UK at their employer’s UK branch where they can take part in a graduate training program.
- International Agreement Worker Visa – this visa allows foreign nationals who come to the UK to work in a job role that is covered by international law (ex. foreign government workers).
- Religious Worker Visa -this visa allows foreign nationals to come to the UK where they will work in a religious order or religious organization in the UK. This visa is valid for up to 2 years.
- Seasonal Worker Visa -this visa allows non-UK nationals to come to the UK to work in ‘edible horticulture’ (Ex. picking fruit on a farm) for up to 6 months.
- Secondment Worker Visa -this visa is under the Global Business Mobility route and allows for the transfer of foreign workers to the UK where they will work at various different UK businesses as part of a high-value contract.
- Service Supplier Visa -this visa is under the Global Business Mobility route and allows foreign workers who are under contract to come to the UK where they can provide their services to a UK company.
- UK Expansion Worker Visa – this visa is under the Global Business Mobility route and allows foreign workers to come to the UK where they will help set up a new branch or subsidiary on behalf of their foreign employer.
Sponsor Licence Application Process
Sponsor Licence applications can be submitted online on the UK government’s website. After you have completed the online sponsor licence application, you will then need to submit a portfolio of supporting documents to the Home Office. After the documents have been submitted, you will then need to pay the appropriate sponsor licence fee.
Certain sponsor licence applicants will not need to provide all of the relevant documents if:
- The applicant is a public body that is recognised by the UK government (ex. a local authority)
- The applicant is a company that is listed on the London Stock Exchange Main Market
As part of the application process, sponsor licence applicants will need to prove that their business/company is eligible to sponsor foreign nationals. This means that the business/company doesn’t have any staff employees who have a history of immigration offences, crimes, or history or failure to meet their sponsor duties. Furthermore, the business/company must nominate designated employees who are senior members (not shareholders) and who will be responsible for managing the licence in the Sponsor Management System (SMS).
It should be noted that some businesses/companies may be visited by the UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) as part of their sponsor application process to ensure that their organisation is legitimate. Most sponsorship licence applications are processed within 8 weeks.
How much does a sponsor licence application cost?
A sponsor licence application fee can cost between £536 to £1476 depending on the size of the organisation that is applying. For example, small or charitable organizations will need to pay the following sponsorship application fees which are as follows:
- Worker Sponsorship licence: £536
- Temporary Worker Sponsorship licence: £536
- Worker and Temporary Worker Sponsorship licence: £536
Small or charitable organisations who would like to add a Skilled Worker Licence to their existing Temporary Worker Licence (or vice versa) will not need to pay an additional fee.
Medium or large-sized organisations will need to pay the following sponsorship licence fees (where appropriate):
- 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
Typically workers will get a year’s permit to work in the UK for the duration of their qualifying period. Workers may apply for a further work permit if they are skilled or supervisory or wish to stay longer. Temporary workers will be given a temporary work permit for the duration of their qualifying period. All sponsors will need to pay their corresponding fees when they new their sponsorship licence.
What are the required documents for a Sponsor Licence application?
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, applicants can now complete their sponsor license applications online and send documents via email within five business days. Typically applicants need at least four documents from a list of a minimum of 5 documents as follows, at a minimum:
- Lease agreements or rental agreements for office space. These documents must have all signatures.
- Any documents which prove that the business has local planning authority consent or the necessary appropriate planning permission to run the organization on their business premises.
- Bank statements of your business transaction over three months. If you prefer, you may submit a letter stating what dealings with a UK bank you’ve had, including when and how they took place.
- HMRC documents proving that a company is registered for PAYE and NI contributions. On the document, the reference numbers of PAYE and the Accounts Office Reference Number must be listed.
- Tax Certificate. The Home Office currently allows users to log in with their business HMRC account credentials, download their VAT certificate, and send it by email.
- Any documents relating to the company’s latest audited or unaudited accounts
- Insurance certificate covering employers’ liability (coverage must be a minimum of $5 million).
- Any document pertaining to the business’ registration with a regulatory body that inspects or monitors the business (if applicable)
If you cannot upload four of the above documents, alternative documentation may be accepted.
Other documents required include:
- An application cover letter. This helps provide any additional information needed by the Home Office.
- A current company hierarchy chart shows all owners, directors, and board members. You are required to list all staff members, including their titles and names if your company has 50 employees or fewer. In the hierarchy chart, you should also include information about the visa applicant’s position to fill.
You may also need CVs of the applicant, job descriptions, job advertisements (if you have no idea who you want to employ), pages from the company website, and documentation related to the applicant’s position.
What are the responsibilities of Sponsor Management roles?
One of the requirements of the sponsor licence holder is to designate certain employees to act in key personnel roles to manage the duties and responsibilities that come with the Sponsorship Management System (SMS). SMS key personnel include the following:
- The key contact. Individuals in the key contact role will act as the main point of contact (liaison) between the business/company that is sponsoring foreign workers and the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).
- Authorizing officer. This role is specifically for those who are in a senior position who is responsible for the actions of the business’/company’s staff and representatives.
- Level 1 user. Individuals who act as Level 1 users will be responsible for the day-to-day management of the sponsor licence.
SMS roles can be performed by just one person if necessary. Key contact and authorising officer roles can be performed by third-party organizations, however, the Level 1 user must be an employee of the business or company that holds the sponsor licence. In order to carry out these SMS roles, all individuals however must undergo certain background and security checks.
What are the responsibilities of the sponsor licence holder?
In order to keep their sponsorship licence, all organizations must abide by the following requirements:
- The sponsor licence holder must verify that their hired foreign workers have the necessary skills and qualifications for their role
- The sponsor licence holder must assign the appropriate Certificate of Sponsorships (CoS) suitable to the job position to the hired foreign workers
- The sponsor licence holder must inform the UKVI if they have discovered that their sponsored employee is not in compliance with the terms and conditions of their visa
Comprehensive immigration advice tailored to your circumstances and goals.
Designed to make your visa application as smooth and stress-free as possible.
Fast Track Package
Premium application service that ensures your visa application is submitted to meet your deadline.
Ensure you have the greatest chance of a successful appeal. We will represent you in any case.
The Advice Package
During this untimed Advice Session with our professional immigration lawyers in London, you will receive our comprehensive advice, completely tailored to your needs and your situation.
The Application Package
With our Application Package, your dedicated immigration lawyer will advise you on your application process and eligibility. Your caseworker will then complete and submit your forms to the Home Office on your behalf.
The Fast Track Package
Our Fast-Track Application Package is a premium service for those who need to submit their application in time with their deadlines. Your case will become a top priority for our lawyers and you will benefit from our highest-quality services.
The Appeal Package
By choosing our Appeal Package, you can rely on our lawyers’ legal knowledge and experience to ensure you have the highest chance of a successful appeal. We will also fully represent you in any hearings/tribunals.
Sponsorship licences are valid for 4 years. If sponsor licence holders would like to extend their sponsorship licence, they may do so if they have not violated any of the terms of their sponsorship duties and can meet the eligibility criteria.
Organizations will automatically be notified by the Home Office to renew their sponsorship licence before they are set to expire. Applications for renewal can be made through the SMS at least 3 months before the current licenses expire. Applicants can also pay the appropriate sponsorship licence fee through SMS.
If your sponsorship licence application is approved, the Home Office will then assign your business or company with an A grade licence rating and then place your organization on the UK Sponsorship Licence Register. Once approved, the business or company is then eligible to hire foreign workers.
There are a number of reasons why the Home Office might refuse a sponsorship licence application. Some common reasons include the following:
- The business or company has failed to pass a Compliance Audit
- The business or company has failed to provide the necessary documents in their application
- The business or company has failed to pass a ‘genuineness test’
- The business or company has failed to comply with the security standards set forth by the Home Office
- The business or company has failed to inform the Home Office of significant changes that have occurred in the running of their business/company
- The applicant has failed to respond to communication by the Home Office in time