How to Apply for a Skilled Worker Sponsor License in 2021
There is no doubt that Brexit and Covid have both left their indelible marks on the UK. In their own ways they have eroded business confidence, with Brexit impacting on exporters and importers in the EU and the UK, and Covid causing significant challenges for the high street retail and hospitality sectors. Despite all of this, as we look forward from February 2021, there now appears to be strong grounds for optimism. The pound has increased significantly on the exchange markets, and there is talk of a pending boom in spending as British households look to spend some of the savings they have built up during successive lockdowns. Also, with Brexit broadly behind them, businesses in the UK can now plan for the future. There is likely to be huge growth in specialist areas in the UK, including green technology and fintech. All in all, there are solid reasons to believe that the UK will be an exciting and vibrant place to be and work in the coming years. If your business is still to apply for a Skilled Worker Sponsor License for 2021, in this article, we will explain the process, how long it takes, and how much you can expect to pay.
What Is A Sponsor License?
A sponsor license provides permission from the UK Home Office for a business to recruit foreign nationals. As such, if your business does not hold a sponsor license, you simply cannot recruit migrant workers. The reason why the UK operates a licensing system, rather like any other regulated sector, is to ensure that controls are in place for the proper recruitment of foreign nationals. There are two broad types of sponsor license, one for long-term employees, and one for short-term recruitment. In this article, we will focus specifically on the long-term sponsor license needed to recruit staff to come to the UK on a Skilled Worker visa.
It is important to understand from the outset that acquiring a sponsor license is more than just a process of applying. You will need to demonstrate to the Home Office that your business has the necessary systems and processes in place to comply with their rules on hiring migrant workers. And once you have your license, you will need to ensure that your business remains compliant with these rules.
Before You Apply For A Sponsor License
Before you apply for a sponsor license, it is important to verify that you are eligible. The Home Office will not grant a sponsor license if either of the following apply:
- You have unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences or certain other crimes, such as fraud or money laundering
- You have had a sponsor licence revoked in the last year
The next area to consider before applying is that you have the necessary systems in place to monitor sponsored employees. This means that you have clear processes which ensure:
- your foreign workers have the necessary skills, qualifications or professional accreditations to do their jobs, and keep copies of documents showing this
- you only assign certificates of sponsorship to workers when the job is suitable for sponsorship
- you tell UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) if your sponsored workers are not complying with the conditions of their visa
- you monitor your employees’ immigration status
- you retain copies of relevant documents for each employee, including passport and right to work information
- you track and record employees’ attendance
- you keep employee contact details up to date
Once you have applied for your sponsor license, you may receive a visit from the Home Office to verify you have the required checks and balances in place.
How Can I Apply For A Sponsor License?
The application process for a sponsor license is mainly completed online. Having entered the details of your organisation, the type of license you require, and the number of Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) you expect to issue each year, you will also complete a ‘submission sheet’ and your supporting documentation. You can apply for a license yourself, or if you would prefer to have this done for you, you can enlist the services of an immigration Solicitor to complete the process on your behalf.
There are several documents which you will need to supply as part of your application. The Home Office provides tables of documents which are acceptable to the Home Office (the table you use depends on the type of business and whether you are a start-up, franchise, or charity.
The application fee you pay will depend on the size of your organisation:
Small or charitable sponsors: £536
Medium or large sponsors: £1,476
For reference, a small sponsor is one which has an annual turnover of £10.2 million (or less), total assets of £5.1 million (or less), or 50 employees (or less). Your business will be classed as charitable if it is a registered, excepted or exempt charity, or an ecclesiastical corporation established for charitable purposes.
Having submitted your application for a sponsor license, you can expect to receive a decision within eight weeks. If your case is particularly complex or if you don’t provide the required level of detail and information in your application, it may take longer. If you need a decision sooner than two months, you can pay an extra £500 when applying to have your application processed within ten working days.
Following Brexit, there is a higher than normal level of companies and organisations applying to secure a sponsor license. Thankfully, the process of applying is relatively straightforward, as long as you follow the requirements for sponsors. If you are unsure if you will meet the criteria, or if you need help with your application, it is always prudent to have an immigration Lawyer review your case before it is submitted. Doing so will provide you with the reassurance that your application has the best chance of success, and will avoid any potential delays in securing your license.