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Our guide to Sponsor Licences
UK businesses must obtain a Sponsor Licence from UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI), also known as the Home Office, before being able to hire foreign workers.
Successful applicants for Sponsor Licences are placed on the List of Registered Sponsors and are then permitted to assign Certificates of Sponsorship (COS) to qualifying candidates, enabling them to make their visa applications to the Home Office.
Provided that the individual is eligible for the particular visa they apply for, they have a good chance of their visa being granted, allowing them to work for the sponsoring company.
Sponsor Licence holders have a responsibility to manage their licence, once it has been issued by the Home Office. In order to remain compliant, and to maintain an A-rating, businesses must complete regular tasks relating to their licence and the employees working under it. A number of these tasks are made easier by using the UK government’s Sponsorship Management System (SMS).
Sponsor Licences give UK companies more control over who they can employ, allowing them to acquire the skills they need to function and grow. Below is a breakdown of each of the sponsor licence parameters you need to consider.
There is a Sponsor Licence for ‘workers’, which allows companies to hire workers for skilled and long-term positions; and a Sponsor Licence for ‘temporary workers’, allowing companies to hire workers for temporary positions. It is also possible to apply for a licence to employ both types of workers.
There are few restrictions for businesses wishing to apply for a Sponsor Licence – these include not having any unspent criminal convictions relating to immigration, and not having had a Sponsor Licence revoked in the past 12 months. Also, in order for an application to be successful, there are a number of other requirements that businesses need to be aware of.
The documentation required by UKVI, when processing an application, will depend on how a sponsor intends to use their licence. Once an application has been completed, with all supporting documentation, UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) will carry out various checks, which may include a visit to an applicant’s premises.
It is important that businesses are aware of all the fees linked to Sponsor Licences, before applying – there’s more than just the cost of the licence to pay for. The three main types of fees are:
- for the Sponsor Licence itself (£535 – £1,476)
- for each Certificate of Sponsorship issued to individuals working under the licence (£21 – £199)
- Immigration Skills Charge for specialist roles (initial cost of £364 – £1,000).
Sponsors are required to complete regular tasks relating to their licence and the employees working under it. This is important in remaining compliant with UK Visas & Immigrating (UKVI), so as not to have a Sponsor Licence downgraded.
Licence ratings are used by UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) to grade the compliance of sponsor organisations. The ratings system aims to help failing sponsors get back on track.
When issued, Sponsor Licences have an A-rating. They can be downgraded to a B-rating or revoked by UKVI. It’s important to maintain them as best as you can to prevent any negative impacts to your business.
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