Sponsor Licence

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  • 18+ Years Experience
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  • Expert in Sponsor Licence with High Success Rate
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What is a Sponsor Licence?

If you are a business that is looking to hire a worker from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) you must apply for a Sponsor Licence. This equally applies to small businesses and charities. 

This is a complex process and you will be required to provide specified evidence as designated by the Home Office. You must demonstrate to the Home Office that you have an organised and efficient HR systems in place to attain the fulfilment of your sponsorship duties once you have acquired the sponsor licence.

There are certain employer Sponsor Licence requirements you must meet before you can make an application. Before you can make a Tier 5 or Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence application, you must decide which company member(s) will be representing the company. Any members who represent you must be an executive/senior member of the company. As part of the application process, you will be required to prove that you are a legitimate business which needs the use of migrant talent. This is called the ‘genuine business test’. Once this has been arranged, you can apply for a Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence. In most cases, you will need to demonstrate that your company is genuinely trading and that there is a genuine vacancy for the non-EEA migrant, which cannot be filled by a settled worker in the UK.

Business Sponsor Licence

Business sponsor licences allow UK businesses to sponsor non-EEA nationals to work in the UK. If you want to sponsor someone under the points-based immigration system, you must hold a sponsor licence. Once this licence is granted to your company, it will allow a non-EEA national to make an application for their Tier 2 (General) or Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) work visa.

The importance of holding a Sponsor Licence is again reiterated under the Government announcement for post-Brexit new immigration system which will enable skilled workers to come to the UK to help grow UK economy and contribute to public services. This will be a global system which prioritises those who can add the most to the UK economy and society, wherever they are from. While the details are yet to be confirmed, we know at present that confirmed job offers will confer extra points for the applicant (migrant) and employer sponsorship by an approved (licensed) employer will remain a key requirement for the vast majority of migrants.

Type of Sponsor Licence

  • Tier 2 (General) Visa
  • Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Visa
  • Tier 2 (Sportsperson) Visa

Application Process

How to apply for a Sponsor Licence:

If your business wants to apply for a sponsor licence under Tier 2 or Tier 5 of the points-based immigration system, it must be registered with Companies House and must be able to provide at least 4 documents as listed in Appendix A: supporting documents for sponsor licence applications as evidence that the company is operating lawfully and ethically in the UK.

There are two main categories of sponsor licence namely Tier 2 and Tier 5 Sponsor Licence.

Tier 2: Skilled workers with job offers

Under Tier 2, a skilled worker can apply to enter or remain in the UK if they have a job offer in the UK from a company that has a valid sponsor licence. Tier 2 is split into the following 3 main sub-categories:

  • Tier 2 (General): for new skilled hires
  • Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer): for transferring existing overseas employees
  • Tier 2 (Sportsperson): for elite sportspersons or coaches

The company must identify the need for a specific job role in the UK in order to commence the process which must meet the minimum skill and salary requirements as defined by the Home Office.

If you have not advertised the job and the migrant is not currently working for you, you should confirm how you identified that this person was the most suitable for the job.

To complete a compliant Resident Labour Market Test, a sponsor must advertise in the UK on two Home Office compliant advertising mediums for 28 calendar days in most cases (subject to certain exemptions). If the advertisement is in 2 stages, then it is necessary to run each advert for a total of 28 calendar days. 

Osbourne Pinner can assist with all of the above subcategories of Sponsor Licence applications. Our immigration lawyers specialising in this area will provide detailed and comprehensive advice on the steps necessary in the process of applying for Tier 2 Sponsor Licence, including advice on whether you can benefit from the exemptions on the Resident Labour Market Test based on your individual circumstances.

Tier 5:  Temporary workers

Under this category, temporary workers can apply to enter the UK only for a short term, normally for a maximum period of between 12-24 months. Tier 5 is split into the following 5 main categories:

  • Creative and Sporting
  • Charity Workers
  • Religious Workers
  • Government Authorised Exchange
  • International Agreement

Osbourne Pinner can also assist with all of the above subcategories of visa applications.

Frequently Asked Questions - Sponsor licence

If you require a Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) you must as a first step advertise the post for at least 28 days. In the meantime, once the advertisement is up and running, we will work on gathering the evidence required for the application. This mostly depends on your responsiveness however it should take between one week to ten days.

Once the application is submitted, the Home Office processing times vary between three (3) weeks for the so called ‘low risk’ applications and they can assess the application solely on the basis of the paperwork provided.

If however the Home Office decides that they will need to undertake a compliance visit, the visit normally takes place around four (4) to six (6) weeks after the date the application was submitted. They will then make a decision in one to two weeks after the visit, rendering the processing time for the application between six and eight weeks. To summaries, the processing time vary between the minimum of three (3) weeks to a maximum of eight (8) weeks.

Once the sponsor licence is granted, your business will be granted access to the Sponsorship Management System (SMS). The Sponsorship Management System (SMS) is used to:  

  • Create & assign Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS’s) to employees under the Tier 2 and Tier 5 visa categories.
  • Report changes of circumstances of sponsored employees including changes to employment details and the withdrawal of sponsorship.
  • You can also review & manage your organisation’s licence.

Osbourne Pinner can be appointed as an additional User on the Sponsor Management System (SMS) on behalf of your business in order to manage reporting duties to ensure the fulfilment of all sponsorship duties on regular basis.

The business as a sponsor must check that foreign workers have the necessary skills, accreditation and qualifications to do their jobs and must retain all documents on HR files in compliance with Appendix D: Keeping documents – guidance for sponsors.

The business as a sponsor must also inform the Home Office if foreign workers are not complying with their visa conditions. The Home Office can also make further enquiries and if it is found that your organisation is in breach of immigration sponsorship duties or you have employed an illegal worker then the business could be removed from the Home office’s Register of Sponsors.

Sponsor licence holders can be subject to Home Office compliance checks at any time. Where there are allegations of compliance breaches, the Home Office has powers to suspend and revoke sponsor licences.

The Home Office may visit any of your UK offices, branches or sites at any time. These visits are sometimes pre-arranged however they can also be unannounced. If your company has been trading for less than 18 months it is likely the Home Office will seek to undertake a compliance check and visit your premises before they approve the licence application. If however, the Home Office is satisfied that you will be complying with your sponsor duties, as described above, it is likely they will be able to make the decision on the application on the information provided in the application form and the evidence submitted.

The Home Office may also seek to undertake a compliance check after the sponsor licence has been approved.

A Certificate of Sponsorship is a reference number assigned to a non-EEA national from their UK sponsor, enabling them to make an application for their visa to work in Britain.

You must assign a certificate of sponsorship to each foreign worker you employ. This is an electronic record, not a physical document. Each certificate has its own number which a worker can use to apply for a visa. There are restricted and unrestricted Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS).

You will need a restricted CoS when sponsoring the following:

  • Tier 2 (General) workers currently abroad who’ll be paid less than £159,600 a year and are not in an inward investment post, and
  • family members (dependants) of Tier 4 migrants who are switching to a Tier 2 visa.

You must apply for restricted certificates for these workers through the sponsorship management system (SMS). You’ll get access to this when you get your licence.

There is no requirement that the business in the UK needs to be at a particular size to apply for a Tier 2 sponsor licence, or that it should have been trading for any particular period of time. The business must be operational, and there should be someone resident in the UK and available, to deal with any queries from UK Visa and Immigration at the Home Office.

You can apply for a Sponsor licence even if you only have two employees. You must show to the Home Office that you are a genuine business operating in the UK and that you have a genuine need to employ a foreign worker.

Once a Sponsorship Licence is obtained it is very important that the licence is not revoked or suspended. Revocation of a Sponsor Licence can have an extremely negative impact, not only on the business but also for the sponsored employees.

The Home Office are regularly updating their requirements and guidance notes and businesses must remain up to date with the current law and guidance relating to Sponsor Licence. If the Home Office are not satisfied that a business has competently complied with the requirements and duties of Sponsor, the Home Office has the option of either suspending or revoking the licence. At OSBOURNE PINNER we provide legal advice and assistance on maintaining the Sponsor licence once it has been acquired.

If the Home Office makes the decision to revoke a sponsor’s licence it will be revoked in all tiers and categories for which the sponsor is licenced and as such the sponsor will be removed from the register of sponsors.

Circumstances in which the Home Office will revoke a sponsor licence, include but are not limited to the following reasons:

  • the sponsor knowingly provided false information on the application for their sponsor licence;
  • the sponsor is B-rated and has not met any of the requirements of their action plan within the specified time period;
  • the sponsor employs a migrant in a job that does not meet the required skill level.

In other circumstances, where a sponsor fails to comply with any of their sponsor duties the Home Office may decide to suspend the sponsor licence whilst they carry out further enquiries. Upon completion of its enquiries the Home Office will either reinstate, downgrade or revoke the sponsor’s licence.

  • Following a grant of Sponsor Licence, if the Home Office discover that the Sponsor (the business) provided false information in their application (regardless whether it is an initial or renewal application for Sponsor Licence) and if they further find that the Sponsor Licence would not have been granted had the Home Office been provided with the correct and true information, then the Sponsor Licence will be revoked.
  • The licence will also be revoked If a business is found to have employed illegal workers.
  • If the business failed to undertake the checks necessary to determine the employee’s right to work correctly and in accordance with Home Office guidelines.
  • If the Home Office discover that a business employed a non-EEA national for a job that does not actually meet the required skill level for the role.
  • Failing to provide the Home Office with requested documents within the deadline stipulated by the Home Office will also result in revocation of the licence.
  • If the business supplied incorrect information on the Certificate of Sponsorship, including salary, or the CoS is used to fill a vacancy for a role not mentioned on the CoS, or a business incorrectly submits that the role was exempt from the resident labour market test when the exemption was not applicable.

In simple words the Home Office will revoke the Sponsor licence if UK Visas and Immigration considers that you are failing to meet your sponsor duties in a serious way or stop operating in the UK.

The effect of the revocation is that the Home Office will immediately curtail leave to remain for the migrant workers on a Tier 2 and/or Tier 5, who are found to have knowingly partaken in the circumstances listed above.

If your sponsor licence is revoked, any migrants you sponsor (who are not involved in any actions that led to the licence being revoked) will have their leave curtailed. They will be given 60 calendar days to find alternative sponsorship or leave the UK. If they have less than 60 days to run on their visa it will not be curtailed, but they must find alternative sponsorship or leave the UK before it expires.

If your Sponsor licence is revoked, there is no right to appeal the decision. The only legal remedy available if you believe the decision to revoke the licence is wrong, is by initiating judicial review proceedings (please see below for more details on judicial review).

In cases where non-compliance with Sponsor duties has been identified by the Home Office however the non-compliance does not amount to a serious breach and the business does not constitute a serious threat to immigration, the Home Office will seek to suspend the Sponsorship licence, until further investigations are undertaken.

In what circumstances will my sponsorship licence be suspended?

  • The business fails to comply with its Sponsor duties;
  • The business continuously fails to comply with requirements;
  • Failure to keep all records updated and failing to report change in circumstances to the Home Office;
  • Employers paying their migrant workers in cash
  • Failure to competently undertake the resident labour market test.

Should the Home Office conclude that the best cause of action is to suspend a Sponsorship Licence, then they will notify the Sponsor providing written reason for the suspension. The sponsor has 20 working days to respond to the decision following which the Home Office will consider your reasons and grounds for refuting the decision. 

To avoid suspension and revocation of a Sponsor licence it is important for a business to receive legal advice, assistance and guidance from the very initial stages of applying for a Sponsor licence, to maintenance of the licence once it has been acquired.

If the legal advice and guidance is followed then there is no reason why your business should be facing a suspension or revocation of Sponsor licence. However, should you find your business in these circumstances, we can assist your business in confidentially refuting the decision and even possibly submitting a judicial review.

If your sponsor licence is revoked, it may be possible to submit a fresh Sponsor Licence Application, after the cooling off period. However, the application will need to address the reasons why your previous licence was revoked. In other situations, if the Home Office’s decision to revoke the licence is erroneous, challenging the decision will be appropriate to clear the business’ name and credibility. Revocation of a Sponsor licence will have a bearing on all future applications and your ratings as a Sponsor.

Our immigration experts have vast experience in immigration law and practice and further specialise in judicial review applications. They will provide an advice/opinion on the merits of applying for Judicial Review [ https://www.osbournepinner.com/immigration-lawyers-uk/uk-visa-appeal-and-judicial-review/] of a revocation decision.

Sponsor licence and the effects of COVID-19

We would firstly advise that the Home Office accepts and considers applications for Sponsor Licence. Due to the current situation the Home Office has advised that documents can now be emailed to the Home Office for a Sponsor Licence application. There is no need to send original or certified copies of documents.  There is no timeframe provided to inform us how long this concession will last for and we at Osbourne Pinner follow the government advice closely.  

How We Can Help?

At OSBOURNE PINNER we have experts specialising in Tier 2 sponsor licence applications. Our team of specialised immigration lawyers have over 18+ years of experience and are able to assist you in the following ways:

    • Initial consultation to determine if Tier 2 Sponsor application is the best choice for your business
    • Providing a comprehensive advice and assistance with carrying out the Resident Labour Market Test, if applicable. Advice will be provided if any exemptions from the RLMT apply. If necessary, the RLMT advice will include drafting of adverts and compliance advice.
    • Advice on the evidence to be submitted in support of the application and assessing the evidence under the specified documentary requirements.
    • Completing and checking your Tier 2 Sponsor licence application online form.
    • Submitting all the appropriate supporting documents for your Tier 2 Sponsor application
    • Preparing a lengthy and detailed letter of representations dealing with the additional information required.

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