When the UK was part of the EU, European workers required no work visas for UK employment. However, now that free movement no longer exists for non-British citizens to come and work in the UK, the need to obtain skilled worker visas has arisen. Yet, workers cannot apply for a visa independently. Rather, they must be sponsored by a UK business.
As of 1st January 2021, employers were required to obtain a sponsor licence if they wanted to sponsor new workers from Europe as well as members of their family (who, in the past, were exempt from any sponsorship requirements). While many large-scale employers will probably already have obtained their sponsor licence, many medium-sized or small employers will be new to the process having never needed to obtain one in the past.
Any employer offering highly or medium-skilled jobs with a salary of £20,480 or over are likely to need to obtain a sponsor licence for any skilled worker they intend to bring onto their team. Since these businesses now need to know how to apply for a sponsor licence, we’re providing some helpful information here so they can be successful in their application.
6 Things To Do To Obtain A Sponsor Licence Successfully
- DO Know Which Roles Can Be Sponsored
- DO Identify Who The Named Authorising Officer Should Be And Ensure They’re Trained
- DO Ensure You Know Which Extra Information Must Be Held On File To Ensure UKVI Requirement Compliance
- DO Think About How To Maintain Compliance With Reporting Requirements
- DO Get Your Licence Application Supporting Documents In Order Before Applying
- DO Apply In Plenty Of Time
Before you try to obtain a sponsor licence, you need to be aware of which roles are allowed to be sponsored as well as the salary you’ll be required to pay. It’s important to understand that the job title is less important than the substance of the role itself, and a minimum skill level is in place – only jobs in the Appendix of Skilled Occupations are able to be sponsored.
You will need to name an Authorising Offer on your sponsor licence. This should be the person who is responsible for migrant worker recruitment who is in the most senior role. This person must have a clear understanding of their role’s importance and must have received training on their compliance obligations.
Employers are required to keep on file a number of documents for migrant workers. All of the information has to be kept up-to-date and must be made available to be inspected by UKVI. Make sure you’re aware of which information needs to be kept on file so that you can be well-prepared before making your sponsor licence application.
A number of matters have to be reported to UKVI within various timescales. You need to allocate the responsibility for compliance to appropriate individuals who have received suitable training and ensure a process is in place to make sure all timescales are properly met.
Timescales have been put in place for the submittance of sponsor licence application supporting documents. Sometimes, these documents must be originals or certified copies. Make sure you’ve obtained advice about those requirements so you can be certain you’re submitting the correct paperwork.
Be aware that a decision about your sponsor licence can take as long as 8 weeks to come through. It’s therefore important to make sure you apply in plenty of time. There is an expedited service available with a decision made within ten business days but this costs extra.
6 Things To Avoid To Successfully Obtain A Sponsor Licence
- DON’T Over-Exaggerate The Job Description
- DON’T Assume You Don’t Need To Advertise The Role
- DON’T Overlook The Possibility Of A Pre-Inspection Visit
- DON’T Underestimate The Repercussions Of A Sponsor Licence Refusal
- DON’T Forget To Write A Cover Letter For Your Application
- DON’T Be Afraid To Get Advice From A Legal Representative
Sponsored employees must only do work that is within the occupation code that their role has been designated. If you over-exaggerate your job description then give the individual lower-skilled duties, you can expect problems if the Home Office carries out an inspection.
Although the resident labour market test has been abolished, that doesn’t automatically mean the role doesn’t need to be advertised. In fact, in most cases, the Home Office will expect the position to have been advertised domestically before seeking a migrant worker to undertake the role. Evidence will also need to be kept of the advertising process.
Companies that have recently started trading, that are in a higher risk sector (this is especially applicable to the hospitality industry, affecting those employing workers in the hotels or catering sector), or who are trading from a virtual office or personal address can expect a pre-inspection visit. This may also apply to businesses that have previously had immigration issues or who are sponsoring somebody who is related to one of their existing employees.
If you fail in your sponsor licence compliance requirements during the application process you could be refused a licence. This will lead to a 6-month period in which you’ll be unable to reapply. This could seriously disrupt your recruitment plans.
Many businesses fail to recognise the importance of writing an application cover letter, but in fact this is very important since there is some mandatory information which must be submitted, and this can best be achieved in a cover letter. A cover letter also allows you to put forward a compelling case explaining why a licence is necessary for your company.
It can be difficult to navigate the complexities of sponsor licence application, but you are entitled to have a legal representative help you to complete the application form. Although you can find the information you need to know from the Sponsor Licence Home Office website, it can still be hard to comprehend. Here at Ash Norton Solicitors, we are experts in the immigration field and can give you all the advice you need about sponsor licence renewal or application. Whether you need migrant workers to fill roles in your AI start-up company, your hospitality business or your mid-sized organisation, don’t hesitate to contact us to get all the information you require.