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Sponsor Licence - Sponsoring An Overseas Worker

There is a wide pool of global talent which companies can take advantage of. You'll need a sponsor license to make use of this talent - our guide takes you through everything you need to know.

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If your business needs to recruit staff from outside the UK, you will first need to secure a Sponsor Licence. Reiss Edwards specialises in all aspects of global mobility and assists small, medium and large businesses, including multi-nationals, to apply for a Sponsor Licence. In order to make a successful application for a Sponsor Licence, you will need to put in place people, processes, and systems to make sure you can meet and adhere to the compliance requirements defined by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).

Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence and Intra-company Transfer

The two most commonly used sponsorship licence types are the Skilled Worker visa licence and the Intra-company visa licence. These are in the category of ‘worker licences’ and are for the long-term permanent employment of migrant workers.

Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence

A Skilled Worker licence is required by any UK business planning to recruit skilled staff from outside the UK. Since the UK left the European Union (EU) at the end of 2020, EU nationals who do not have Settled Status also need to be sponsored to work here. Not only must businesses hold a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence to recruit skilled workers from outside the UK, but the role being offered must also be on the list of eligible jobs and meet the minimum salary requirements.

Intra-Company Transfer Sponsor Licence

Multinational businesses with a presence in the UK can transfer staff to work in the UK under the Intra-Company Transfer visa scheme. In order to allow an international staff member to work in a UK branch, the UK legal entity must hold an Intra-Company Transfer Sponsor Licence. As specialists in global mobility, Reiss Edwards understand the importance of being able to relocate key members of staff with specific skills and experience around the world, often at short notice. Having the ability to transfer staff between countries means that multinational organisations can achieve their plans for global growth and expansion.

Employer Sponsor Licence Application Form

Our immigration solicitors can assist with all aspects of completing the application process for your UK Sponsor licence, including completing the application form. If you have the time and resources necessary to complete the application, we can ensure it is correct and will meet the requirements of a UKVI case officer before it is submitted.

The employer Sponsor Licence application form is completed online on the Home Office website. It is important that you understand the requirements of licence holders (see below) and ensure your business is compliant before you apply. This is because your business can expect to receive a pre-licence compliance visit from UKVI once your form is submitted.

In addition to completing the online application form, you will also need to send in a submission sheet (this is provided at the end of the application process) and any supporting documents requested by UKVI (see below for more details). These documents can be scanned and sent electronically.

Sponsor Licence Business Requirements

As a Sponsor Licence holder, your business will be expected to ensure that, at all times:

  • Prospective workers from outside the UK have the necessary skills, qualifications or professional accreditations to do their jobs. You will need to retain and safely store copies of documents proving this
  • your business only assign certificates of sponsorship to workers when the job is suitable for sponsorship,
  • you report to the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) if your sponsored workers are not complying with the conditions of their visa

You must have an HR system in place which will allow your business to:

  • Monitor the immigration status of sponsored employees – this typically requires a calendar-based reminder system to check the visa status and intended plans of migrant workers at set periods before their visa is due to expire. It is essential that your business does not inadvertently employ an overseas worker whose visa has expired, as this may lead to your licence being revoked.
  • Keep up-to-date copies of relevant documents for each employee, including their passport and right to work information
  • track and record employees’ attendance
  • keep employee contact details up to date

Any major changes to your business must also be reported to UKVI, including if the nature of the business changes, it becomes insolvent, or it is acquired by another company.

In addition to the compliance requirements, the applicant must not have any unspent criminal convictions or have had a previous Sponsor Licence revoked in the year prior to the application being submitted.

Certificate Of Sponsorship For Applicants

As a licenced sponsor, you will be responsible for issuing certificates of sponsorship (CoS) to any international workers your business employs. The CoS is an electronic document that contains a unique reference number that the employee can use to apply for a Skilled Worker visa. Each CoS is requested using UKVI’s online immigration portal – the Sponsorship Management System (SMS). Once you have applied for a new CoS, UKVI will review the request and typically provide approval within one working day.

For each CoS issued, you will need to pay a fee of £199, although there is no charge if the worker is from one of the following countries:

Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden or Turkey.

You may also need to pay the immigration skills charge for each person you sponsor.

The Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence Online Application & Supporting Documentation

You will be advised which supporting documents you need to submit when you complete the online application form. The documents you need to provide will depend on your circumstances and the type of business. UKVI will typically request at least four documents from a list provided, although you may not need to send these if the business is:

  • a public body recognised by the UK Government, such as a local authority
  • a company listed on the London Stock Exchange Main Market

For a full breakdown of the documents you can provide, see the Home Office website – ‘Appendix A: supporting documents for sponsor licence application’. This provides a full list (in table 1) of the type of businesses that do not need to send all four documents. There are specific document requirements for start-ups (i.e. businesses trading for less than 18 months), franchises, and charities (in table 2).

Depending on the type of business, you may consider providing:

  • An acknowledgement of a Company Tax Return CT620, or the completed CT600 tax return and the CT603 notice.
  • Evidence that you have employer’s liability insurance cover for at least £5m from an authorised insurer.
  • Proof of registration with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) as self-employed.

Reiss Edwards can assist you with your application for a Sponsor Licence and ensure that you have provided sufficient documentation to support your case.

Contact Us

If you need assistance or have any questions regarding your an application for a Sponsor License, or anything else immigration-related, then do not hesitate to get in touch with our expert team of immigration solicitors. We also offer a free initial assessment over the phone - call us on 020 3744 2979.

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"Andy Tieu is absolutely amazing, as a lawyer myself I can categorically say tha...

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Kiran Sardar

"I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this profes...

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Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was ou...

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Isaac .T

"Professional service. I was very impressed with the fact that my ILR applicatio...

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