Under the points-based system, UK employers looking to hire highly skilled migrant workers from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) are required to obtain a UK Sponsorship Licence.
UK immigration rules and guidance demand that sponsorship applications are carefully scrutinised by the Home Office and sponsors must ensure that they have proper procedure and robust HR practices in place. Astons Law are here to support you throughout the entire sponsorship licence application process, helping you to build a robust and compelling case and ensure that your organisation is fully compliant with the requirements, resulting in a smooth and hassle-free process.
To employ skilled non-EEA workers, UK companies need to hold the relevant sponsorship licence from UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) before employing permanent or temporary foreign workers. A sponsorship licence is also necessary for educational institutions recruiting students from overseas. Without one, UK companies cannot transfer existing employees to the UK, extend an existing work visa or apply for permission to employ someone from outside the EEA.
Once a sponsorship licence is granted, the company will be given a licence rating. This will allow them to start assigning Certificates of Sponsorship which are required as part of each non-EEA individual’s immigration application under Tier 2 of the points-based system. A sponsorship licence comes with important obligations for the licence holder.
The company will be required to prove that all the duties and responsibilities expected of them as a sponsor are understood and followed. The sponsorship licence is granted for an initial period of 4 years and may be extended if the company wished to continue to sponsor any non-EEA nationals.
Alternatively, if a sponsor does not meet its responsibilities, their licence can be downgraded, suspended or even withdraw.
A sponsorship licence is granted for an initial period of 4 years and may be extended if the company wishes to continue to sponsor any non-EEA nationals.
Companies applying for a sponsorship licence may also be subject to a visit from UKVI, who will assess whether or not your organisation is fit to be granted a sponsorship licence.
When applying for a sponsorship licence, companies need to meet the criteria set out in the Immigration rules. These criteria are in place to ensure that the is no abuse of the immigration system and that employers have robust systems in place meet their obligations.
Companies are expected to be genuine organisations operating legally in the UK, to only assign CoS to workers when the job is suitable for sponsorship, ensure they have appropriate requirement procedures and robust HR departments to monitor employees immigration status and employees attendance. There are further duties which include keeping the Home Office updated about any significant changes.
Experienced experts at Astons Law provide thorough guidance on the process and procedures of obtaining a sponsorship licence. We provide practical advice on how your company can maintain its obligations.
What is the sponsorship licence process?
A brief overview of the application process broken down into the following stages:
Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT)
The company must identify the need for a specific job role in order to begin the process and the role needs to be advertised for a minimum of 28 days. The RLMT ensures that that the organisation has searched for a potential hire within the settled workforce prior to offering and hiring a migrant which requires sponsorship.
Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence
Preparation and submission of all necessary documents and forms for sponsorship licence which grants permission for employers to hire foreign and migrant workers.
An organisation can decide whether it wishes to add either or both sub-categories, Tier 2 (General) & Tier 2 (ICT) to their licence.
An online licence application must be submitted by the nominated authorising officer. The organisation must supporting documentation to meet the necessary evidentiary requirements which can be found in the Sponsor Guidance Appendix A . The supporting documents must be submitted within five working days of the online application being submitted. If all required documents are not submitted, this will result in a delayed or rejected application with further costs incurred.
Tier 2 Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
Once the company has been registered as a licenced sponsor, a ‘restricted’ or ‘unrestricted’ Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) should be obtained to allow for employees to be taken on instantly:
Unrestricted CoS are for new employees who are earning more than £155,300, switching within the UK to the Tier 2 (General) visa and also those applying for extensions.
When a company applies for a licence they will need to estimate how many Tier 2 certificates are required. They will then be granted fixed allocations of unrestricted CoS annually as part of their sponsorship licence.
Restricted CoS are for new employees applying from outside the UK for a Tier 2 (General) visa who will earn less than £155,300, as well as individual dependants of Tier 4 students applying from within the UK who wish to switch to a Tier 2 (General) visa.
Tier 2 General or Intra-company Transfer Visa
Once the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) has been issued, the prospective employee will be able to apply for a visato join the company or apply for leave to join the company from within the UK.
The process of obtaining a sponsorship license may take up to 3 months with a decision being made within 3 weeks from application submission.