UK Sponsor Licence Application to hire US citizens

UK businesses can benefit greatly from hiring foreign employees. However, if you are a company located in the UK and wish to hire an employee from the United States, you must apply for a sponsor licence.

To demonstrate that you are willing and able to pay skilled workers’ salaries and cover their expenses while they work, you will need to prove that you are a legitimate business.  Contact us today at +1 844 290 6312 for guidance and assistance with the sponsor licence application process.

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    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.

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    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
    overseas workers

    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.

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      Sponsor Licence Rating

      All businesses will initially receive an A-rating when their application for a sponsor licence is approved. With an A-rating, you will be able to grant certificates of sponsorship to foreign employees.

      The A-rating is the standard rating that most businesses will have if they comply with all of their sponsor licence duties and requirements.

      If you fail to comply with your duties and requirements as a sponsor of foreign workers, you will be downgraded to a B-rating.

      If you have a B-rating, your business will no longer be able to confer new certificates of sponsorship until it receives an A-rating again.

      You can do this by following the steps laid out in an action plan that can be purchased for £1,476 from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). You will be granted an A-rating once all of the steps are followed and no further action needs to be taken in order to bring your business up to the minimum requirements.

      Note that you are only allowed to have a maximum of two B-ratings during your sponsor licence’s validity period. You may be at risk of losing your sponsor licence altogether if your business still needs to make improvements after your second action plan.

      How to Apply for a Sponsor Licence

      You can apply for a sponsor licence online through the official website.

      In order to apply, you will need details of your business or organisation on hand, a valid credit or debit card to pay the fee, and all of your supporting documents to hand so you can digitally capture them and submit them after your main application is complete.

      The application will take around 20 to 30 minutes in total to complete.

      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).

      Once you’ve finished filling in the main application, you will be required to submit a submission sheet that you’ll be given afterwards. The sheet will also contain an email address that you will have to send your supporting documents to, which you can do so by either scanning them or taking pictures of them.

      If you’re unable to scan or photograph the documents, the submission sheet will contain more information about how to send the documents in an alternative format.

      Note that all affidavits or statutory declarations you submit should be witnessed by a solicitor, Notary Public, Justice of the Peace, Commissioner for Oaths, a Councillor, or a similar qualified individual.

      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.

      Sponsor Licence Application Processing Time

      After you submit your application for a sponsor licence, it will normally take UKVI up to 8 weeks to process it.

      If you wish to receive a faster decision on your application, you may be able to pay an additional fee for priority processing.

      This will cost £500 and will ensure that your application is processed within 10 working days.

      There is a limited number of allocated priority processing slots available each day, and are given on a first-come, first-serve basis.

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        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
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                  Frequently Asked Questions

                  Sponsorship licences are valid for 4 years if renewable before the 6th of April 2024. 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.

                  If the renewable time occurs on or after 6th of April 2024, you will not need  to manually renew or pay a fee. Your sponsor licence will be renewed automatically for 10 years.

                  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