Since Brexit and the recent changes to UK immigration laws, any UK employer who wants to sponsor skilled workers from both EU and non-EU countries must obtain a UK Visa Sponsor Licence.
Skilled worker rules now apply under the points-based system for one of the following three visas:
- Skilled Worker Visa (which has replaced the Tier 2 visa)
- Intra-company Transfer Visa
- Tier 5 Temporary Worker Visa
Each of these visa types requires sponsorship by a licensed employer.
However, EU nationals who were already in the UK on 31st December 2020 do not need to be sponsored but must have registered under the EU Settlement Scheme before 30 June 2021 to maintain their lawful status. Irish nationals are exempt and do not need to be sponsored.
Although these new requirements make hiring international workers more complex, this doesn’t prevent the UK from benefiting from the global talent pool. Many companies can obtain the Sponsor Licence with ease, provided they are eligible and follow the rules.
Who is eligible?
In order to be eligible for a UK Sponsor Licence, you must meet certain criteria.
Firstly, you must be a business operating legally in the UK with a UK presence. Usually, you cannot apply as an individual, but sole traders can be considered if they wish to sponsor someone to work in their business. If you have multiple branches in the UK, you can apply for one licence to cover all or apply for separate licences.
You may also need to provide proof that you are registered with a statutory body and possibly evidence that you are allowed to run your business at your address. Again, this depends on your unique personal circumstances. Contact us for further guidance.
The employment itself must also be genuine and you must pay the correct salary as outlined by the Home Office.
Finally, you will be expected to pledge to accept the duties associated with the UK Sponsor Licence.
How much does the Sponsor Licence cost?
Fees apply for the Sponsor Licence and depend primarily on your annual business turnover.
Small organisations (those with fewer than 50 employees, an annual turnover of less than £10.2 million, and assets less than £5.1 million pay a fee of £536. This includes charitable organisations such as registered charities.
Medium or large organisations are subject to a fee of £1476.
However, you will not need to pay a fee if you have been granted a Worker Sponsor Licence (Tier 2 Sponsor Licence) and want to add a subcategory.
How do you apply for the Sponsor Licence?
Your organisation needs to submit an online application along with supporting documents to apply for the Sponsor Licence. This could include:
- Covering letter to explain the company background
- Proof of HR processes
- Business bank statement(s)
- Employer’s liability insurance of at least £5 million from an authorised insurer.
- Certificate of VAT registration
- Evidence of registration as an employer with HMRC – i.e., PAYE and Accounts Office Reference Number
- Proof of ownership or lease of business premises or rent agreement
- Latest audited or unaudited accounts
- Evidence of your registration with any regulatory body
You will be made aware of which documents you need to provide upon application.
The Home Office will also conduct a compliance visit to ensure that you are meeting the requirements.
Sponsor Licence Ratings: How do they work?
After your application is assessed and approved, you will receive either an A-rating or a B-rating.
The highest is the A-rating which is awarded when companies have proved that they can comply with their sponsor duties. This must be maintained if they are to keep this rating and they could be subject to checks and reassessment at any time.
If the company doesn’t comply, this rating will be downgraded to a B rating, and they will need to follow a designated plan to regain the A rating. If this doesn’t happen, the licence will be revoked.
As a sponsor, you are also responsible for ensuring migrant workers are suitably qualified, meet the points requirements and have the required language skills. If you do not ensure this happens, your licence could be revoked, and your workers could lose their employment and be forced to leave the UK.
Do you need help with a Sponsor Licence application? Need to check whether you are eligible? Contact us today.