How to Fast Track Your UK Sponsorship Licence Application
With the ongoing shortage of labour in the UK, more businesses are considering their options, including sponsoring foreign nationals. Indeed, businesses that had previously relied on the domestic labour supply or workers from the EU are now finding they simply cannot recruit workers fast enough. In this article, we will explain how you can fast track your application for a UK sponsorship license.
How long does a UK sponsor license application normally take to process?
The standard processing time for a UK sponsor license is anywhere up to eight weeks. UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) state that this applies in 80% of applications; however, it can take longer, especially for complex cases.
Can I fast track my UK sponsor license application?
There is a fast-track process for new sponsor license applications; this is referred to as the pre-licence priority service, which allows businesses to receive a decision from UKVI within ten working days for a fee of £500. There is a caveat, however; you will need to apply for your sponsor license and then wait to be invited to use the pre-license priority service. And even if you are invited, the number of accepted requests is limited. That said, with a little knowledge, it is possible to maximise your chances of being accepted for the pre-licence priority service, as we will explain below.
Applicants should also be aware that it is only possible to use the priority service for online applications, and the application has not already been submitted to and accepted by UKVI and in the hands of a caseworker.
How can I use the UK sponsor licence application priority service?
After you have submitted your sponsor licence application and accompanying documents, you will then need to wait to see if you are emailed by UKVI to invite you to use the priority service. If you are invited, you will then need to email the UKVI’s specialist priority team at preLicencePriorityService@homeoffice.gov.uk. Your email should have a completed ‘priority service – email request form’ attached. Full details of how to format your email, the items to attach, and the information to provide will be given in the invitation email.
If accepted, you will receive a second email confirming your sponsor licence application will be fast-tracked and the next steps in the process.
How can I ensure UKVI accept my sponsor license application priority/fast track service request?
Unfortunately, there are a few factors that may mean your fast-track request is refused or rejected. It is important to be aware of these to maximise your chances of being accepted. Firstly, the number of priority requests which UKVI accept is capped to ten per day. This means if you send a pre-licence priority service request email, if ten have already been accepted, yours will be refused. As such, the earlier in the day you send your request, the better.
Another reason for rejection is the non-payment of the priority service fee in the stated times. This must be paid within 72 hours of the request to pay, and if this timescale is not met, the priority request will be rejected. As UKVI explains, “You have 72 hours (this includes weekends) from when you receive the second email to pay the appropriate fee. If we do not receive your payment within that time, your priority request will expire, and you will need to apply again to be considered”. For this reason, we recommend keeping a close eye on your email (and spam folder) to check for communications from UKVI on your application and priority request.
A final point to be aware of is that requests to use the priority service have to be received within the working hours of 9 am to 5 pm Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays. Emails sent outside this time may be rejected.
This is confirmed by the UKVI guidance on the pre-licence priority service, which states, “There are several reasons why your request may not be successful: your request is ineligible for the service, we have reached our daily allocation limit, or you have submitted a priority request outside the services operating times”.
UKVI also state, “If you do not receive a response, please assume that your request has not been successful”.
Other considerations when using the UK pre-licence priority service
Other points to consider when using the pre-licence priority service include:
- Using the pre-licence priority service does not guarantee your application will be processed within ten working days. Complex cases or those with missing information may take longer.
- The ten working days period only starts from the working day after you pay the £500 priority application fee.
- If information is requested by UKVI (e.g., items of documentation not included in the initial application), this must be sent to UKVI in a timely manner. If this is not the case, the priority request may be rejected and no refund issued. UKVI states, “We may request further information within the ten-working day timescale; if we do not receive this information in due course, we may reject the request, and no refund will be issued. For this reason, please ensure the Authorising Officer checks their email, including junk mail regularly”.
- If your pre-license priority service is delayed for other reasons outside of normal case working processes (e.g., a technical error), you may be eligible for a refund of the priority fee.
UKVI has recently updated its guidance on the pre-license priority service to help applicants understand the process and how to avoid a refusal/rejection. Despite this, the number of sponsor license applications that can be accepted for fast-track processing is extremely limited; hence it is important to time your request correctly, submit any further information requested, and pay the priority processing fee as soon as possible. If you need any help with your sponsor license priority processing request, speak to an immigration Solicitor who will be able to advise how you can further increase your chances of being accepted for the fast-track process.