Sponsor Licence & Tier 2

If your business wishes to hire a non-EU worker in the United Kingdom, then you will need to secure a Tier 2 sponsorship licence from the Home Office’s UK Visas & Immigration Section (UKV&I). Consider this a contract between your company and the government to guarantee that you will adhere to the compliance duties associated with sponsoring migrant workers. The process involved in applying for a sponsor licence can be challenging. Routine audits of the human resource systems are conducted by Visiting Officers from the UKV&I. If your business relies on its ability to employ migrant workers under the Tier 2 scheme, maintaining compliance is critical.

How we can help
Our service is personalised to meet your needs. At Smith Stone Walters, we have a dedicated Sponsorship Registration & Compliance Team ready to assist your company with preparing for your sponsor licence application. We also ensure that the right human resource systems are in place to comply with your ongoing Tier 2 sponsorship duties. Our strong relationships with the UKV&I Sponsor Licensing Unit enable us to effectively manage the progress of your licence application and provide you with an expedited service. To learn more about our sponsor licence and Tier 2 services, please contact our team today.

Audit Services

Those UK employers sponsoring staff under the Tier 2 scheme can expect, at some stage, to receive a visit from Visiting Officers of the Home Office’s UK Visas & Immigration Section (UKV&I). The purpose of the visit is twofold:

  • to ensure that you have the processes and human resource practices in place to enable you to meet (or continue to meet) your sponsorship duties
  • to ensure that you are compliant with an employer’s legal responsibilities towards the prevention of illegal working as well as other related immigration legislation

Full compliance will lead to your company securing an ‘A’ rating from the UKV&I. Non-compliance could lead to prosecution, the loss of your licence, or both.

How we can help
Smith Stone Walters understands the complexity of UK immigration processes, the legal requirements and the issues that cause problems. Our bespoke Immigration Audit Service is tailored to meet your business needs and budget whilst helping you to avoid the potential of incurring penalties. Whether you require a peace-of-mind soft audit or a fully outsourced compliance and document retention solution, we have the answers.

Compliance & Training

UK immigration compliance is not voluntary. Employers have a duty to prevent illegal working, which means they must identify those migrants who require UK immigration permission and undertake prescribed document checks or risk civil penalties.

How we can help
Our dedicated team of trained professionals will ensure that you maintain ongoing compliance under the points-based system. Should we identify any issues in regard to non-compliance, our staff will work with you to improve your processes. We will even provide in-house training to your key staff. Smith Stone Walters maintains a legal expatriate workforce and takes this responsibility seriously. Let us help you do the same.

Gov't Liaison

UK immigration is what we do. Therefore, we are committed to assessing new and proposed regulation on your behalf and advising you on its potential effect on your business operations. Furthermore, by building a strong coalition with your company, we are able to develop effective strategies and tactics to serve your best interests. We are actively involved in government proceedings. We participate in key policy consultations, draft responses and voice reasoned and considered opinions in the design of immigration regulation to those in government. Smith Stone Walters does not make the laws, but we do keep you informed of new policies, proposals and potential changes that affect your business. We help you to look forward rather than backwards when it comes to managing your company’s immigration strategy.

Glossary

A rating

This term is applied to a sponsor under the points-based system. It is the rating awarded by the Home Office’s UK Visa & Immigration Section when a sponsor joins the register of sponsors.

Account management and compliance team

The team of staff within the Home Office’s UK Visa & Immigration Section responsible for ensuring that organisations are complying with their obligations as sponsors under the points-based system for coming to the United Kingdom to work, train or study.

Account management or compliance actions

Action that staff of the Home Office’s UK Visa & Immigration Section will take to ensure that organisations are complying with their sponsorship duties under the points-based system for coming to the United Kingdom to work, train or study.

Authorising officer

The authorising officer is one of the roles required within organisations that wish to sponsor migrants under the points-based system for coming to the United Kingdom to work, train or study. The authorising officer is responsible for the activities of anyone acting on behalf of the sponsor to issue certificates of sponsorship.

B rating

This term is applied to a sponsor under the points-based system. It is the rating awarded by the Home Office when a sponsor joins the register of sponsors. A ‘B’ rating is a transitional rating for a sponsor who is under a sponsorship action plan.

Certificate of sponsorship

A ‘virtual document’ assigned by a licensed sponsor to a migrant who wishes to work for them in the UK. The migrant must quote the certificate of sponsorship reference number when applying for permission to enter or remain in the UK under Tier 2 or Tier 5 of the points-based system or, where the migrant is a Croatian national, when applying for worker authorisation.

Common travel area

The common travel area is a ‘free movement’ area comprising the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, the Bailiwick of Guernsey, the Bailiwick of Jersey and the Isle of Man. The United Kingdom currently makes no routine immigration checks on passenger travel within this area, and passengers do not need to carry a passport or national identity document for immigration purposes.

Commonwealth

The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 53 independent countries that consult and co-operate in the common interests of their people to promote international understanding and world peace. All of the member countries, except for Mozambique, have experienced direct or indirect British rule, or have been linked administratively to another Commonwealth country.

Compliance activity

Actions that the Home Office’s UK Visa & Immigration Section staff will take to ensure that organisations are complying with their sponsorship duties under the points-based system for coming to the United Kingdom to work, train or study.

Compliance team

The team of staff within the Home Office’s UK Visa & Immigration Section responsible for ensuring that organisations are complying with their sponsorship duties under the points-based system.

Downgrade

This applies to the lowering of the rating awarded by the Home Office’s UK Visa & Immigration Section under the points-based system. It is the action taken when the Home Office changes an A rating to a B rating.

e-Borders

E-Borders is the name of the Home Office’s programme of electronic border control. It collects and analyses passenger and crew information provided electronically by carriers (airlines, rail and shipping companies) before travel starts on all journeys to and from the UK.

Earnings

This is one of the categories (known as ‘attributes’) for which you can gain points under the points-based system for coming to the United Kingdom to work, train or study. It means the amount of money you have been paid in your job or business in 12 consecutive months during the 15 months before your application.

English language

This means your ability to speak and write in English. A defined level of skill is required before you can make certain applications. Under the points-based system for coming to the United Kingdom to work, train or study this is one of the categories for which you must gain points.

Entrepreneur start date

If you were granted entry clearance as a Tier 1 Entrepreneur, your entrepreneur start date is the date when you entered the United Kingdom (if you can produce evidence of your date of entry) or the date when you were granted entry clearance (if you cannot produce evidence of your date of entry). If you were already in the United Kingdom when you became a Tier 1 Entrepreneur, your entrepreneur start date is the date when you were granted leave to remain as a Tier 1 Entrepreneur.

Entry clearance

Documents that give permission to travel to or enter the UK. There are 4 types of entry clearance document:

  • visa;
  • entry certificate;
  • EEA family permit; and
  • exempt vignette
ESOL

English for speakers of other languages. This is a course for people who do not have sufficient English to be able to live independently in the United Kingdom. This course is run by both state-funded and private colleges.

ESOL Entry 3

This is the minimum standard of English that will enable an applicant to pass the Knowledge of Life in the UK test.

European Economic Area

The European Economic Area (EEA) consists of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK. Although Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway are not members of the European Union (EU), their citizens have the same rights as EU citizens to enter, live in and work in the UK.

European Union

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Irish Republic, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.

Experience you have in the United Kingdom

Under the points-based system for coming to the United Kingdom to work, train or study this is one of the categories (known as ‘attributes’) for which you can gain points. You may be able to score points for this if you scored points for previous earnings in the United Kingdom, or have a qualification at bachelor’s degree level or above that was gained in the United Kingdom.

Governing body endorsement

A governing body endorsement is from an organisation that governs their particular sport which is recognised by the Home Office. The endorsement confirms that the application is from a genuine (bona fide) sports club (or equivalent) or confirms the sportsperson at the appropriate level.

Key contact

The key contact acts as the main point of contact between the Home Office’s UK Visas & Immigration Section and an organisation that sponsors migrants under the points-based system.

Leave to remain

Leave to remain is permission to stay in the UK, either temporarily (‘limited leave to remain’) or permanently (‘indefinite leave to remain’).

Legal representative

A solicitor or other qualified adviser who advises you on how our laws apply to your case.

Level B2

The level of ability in speaking and writing English that the Home Office requires for applicants to study under Tier 2 of the points-based system. It is a level defined by the Council of Europe’s Common European Framework of Reference for Languages as being an independent user.

Level C1

The level of ability in speaking and writing English that the Home Office requires for applicants under Tier 1 of the points-based system. It is a level defined by the Council of Europe’s Common European Framework of Reference for Languages as being a proficient user.

Licensed sponsor

An organisation that is licensed by the Home Office’s UK Visas & Immigration Section to sponsor migrants to come to the United Kingdom under the points-based system.

Limited leave to remain

Permission to stay in the United Kingdom temporarily, for the length of time stated on your visa.

Maintenance

This means your available maintenance or funds when you apply under the points-based system for coming to the United Kingdom to work, train or study. It is one of the categories for which you must gain points. A defined level of maintenance is required before you can make certain applications.

Multiple entry certificate of sponsorship

A multiple entry certificate of sponsorship may be issued to a migrant based overseas who needs to enter the United Kingdom on a regular basis.

National Recognition Information Centre

Also known as UK NARIC. The United Kingdom agency that is the official source of information on international qualifications and how they compare with qualifications gained in the United Kingdom.

Nationality

This may be the same as your citizenship, but it is possible to hold a nationality of a country without being a citizen of that country. For example, British subjects are British nationals but not British citizens.

Non-visa national

A non-visa national does not need a visa to come to the United Kingdom for less than six months, unless it is a requirement of the immigration category under which they are entering. A non-visa national coming to the United Kingdom for more than six months will need a visa.

NVQ level 3

National Vocational Qualifications level 3 is a qualification which shows competence that involves the application of knowledge in a broad range of varied work activities performed in a wide variety of contexts, most of which are complex and non-routine. There is considerable responsibility and autonomy, and control or guidance of others is often required.

Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC)

OISC is the body responsible for ensuring that all immigration advisers meet the requirements of good practice.

Points-based assessment

The method for deciding whether you qualify to come to work, train or study in the United Kingdom under the points-based system. To qualify, you must earn a certain number of points in various categories.

Points-based system

The Home Office’s immigration system for managing applications by people who wish to come to the United Kingdom to work, train or study.

Rating

This term is applied to a sponsor under the points-based system for coming to the United Kingdom to work, train or study. It is one of two levels (A or B) awarded by the Home Office’s UK Visas & Immigration Section when a sponsor joins the register of sponsors.

Register of sponsors

A list of all organisations licensed to sponsor migrants under the points-based system.

Registration or professional accreditation

Recognition by or registration with the appropriate authority in the United Kingdom that permits a person who gained their qualifications in another country to practice a certain profession in the United Kingdom.

Representative of an overseas business visa

Also known as the Sole Representative Visa, this category of the points-based system allows a representative from an overseas business to come to the UK with the sole purpose of establishing and operating a registered branch or wholly-owned subsidiary of that company in the UK

Resident labour market

The pool of workers who qualify as resident workers. A resident worker is a person who is a national of the European Economic Area (EEA) or is legally settled in the United Kingdom with permission to work here.

Resident labour market test

This is the process an employer must follow before employing a person who is not a permanent resident of the United Kingdom if they are first required to show that no suitably qualified resident worker could be found to take a particular job.

Resident worker

A person who is a national of the European Economic Area (EEA) or is legally settled in the United Kingdom with permission to work here. In some cases, an employer who wishes to employ a person who is not a permanent resident must show that no suitably qualified resident worker could be found to take the job.

Settled status

You are normally resident in the United Kingdom with no immigration restriction on the length of your stay. To be free of immigration restriction you must have the right of abode or indefinite leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom.

Settled worker

A ‘settled worker’ is a person who:

  • is a national of the UK; or
  • is a national of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia* Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden or Switzerland with right of residence in the UK; *NB – workers from Croatia must still be sponsored under Tier 2 or Tier 5 and have work authorisation in order to work lawfully, unless exempt. Employers commit an offence by employing Croatian nationals who have failed to comply with the work authorisation requirements; or
  • is a British overseas territories citizen, except those from Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus. (Those included are Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Virgin Islands, British Indian Ocean Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands and dependencies, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn Islands, St. Helena and Dependencies and Turks and Caicos Islands); or
  • is a Commonwealth citizen who was allowed to enter or to remain in the UK on the basis that a grandparent was born here; or
  • has settled status in the UK within the meaning of the Immigration Act 1971, as amended by the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, and the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002.
Shortage occupation list

The official list of occupations for which there are not enough resident workers to fill available jobs. Employers who wish to hire a worker from outside the European Economic Area to fill a vacancy that is on the list of shortage occupations may do so without carrying out a resident labour market test.

Sponsor duties

The responsibilities which organisations have when they sponsor migrants under the points-based system. The duties are record keeping, reporting, compliance, co-operating with the Home Office’s UK Visas & Immigration Section and tier specific duties.

Sponsor licence number

The number a company or educational establishment is given by the Home Office’s UK Visas & Immigration Section when it is added to the register of organisations that wish to sponsor migrants under the points-based system.

Sponsor licensing unit

The unit that makes all decisions on applications to join the register of organisations wishing to sponsor migrants under the points-based system. It awards licences, including the rating.

Sponsor management and compliance procedures

Any procedure to ensure sponsors comply with their duties when sponsoring migrants under the points-based system.

Sponsored skilled worker

A migrant supported by an employer to work in the United Kingdom in a job at S or NVQ level 3 or above.

Sponsorship compliance officers

These are also called visiting staff, ie. any person from the Home Office’s sponsor management unit who will help sponsors comply with their duties when sponsoring migrants under the points-based system.

Sponsorship management system

An IT system used by organisations that sponsor migrants under the points-based system. It allows sponsors to allocate certificates of sponsorship to migrants, carry out the administrative functions necessary to comply with their sponsor obligations and duties, and communicate information to the Home Office’s UK Visas & Immigration Section.

Switching

This term is used when someone applies for permission to extend their stay in the United Kingdom in another immigration category without leaving the United Kingdom.

Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)

A category of the points-based system for coming to the United Kingdom if you want to set up or run a business in the UK and have a prescribed level of funds to invest.

Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)

A category of the points-based system for coming to the United Kingdom if you have been endorsed as an internationally recognised leader or emerging leader in your field in science, humanities, engineering, medicine, digital technology or the arts.

Tier 1 (General)

It is no longer possible to enter the UK under this category of the points-based system.  However, you can apply to extend or switch your current visa to Tier 1 (General) if you have permission to stay in the UK as Tier 1 (General), writer, composer or artist, self-employed lawyer or HSMP.

Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)

A category of the points-based system if you are a graduate who has been officially endorsed as having a genuine and credible business idea.

Tier 1 (Investor)

A category of the points-based system for coming to the United Kingdom if you want to invest £2,000,000 or more in the UK.

Tier 2 (General) - skilled worker

A category of the points-based system for coming to the United Kingdom to work. It applies to skilled people with a job offer.

Tier 2 - intra-company transfer

A category of the points-based system for coming to the United Kingdom to work. It applies to sponsors who are transferring employees within an organisation to a skilled job under Tier 2.

Tier 2 - religious worker

A category of the points-based system for coming to the United Kingdom to work as a religious worker. Its applies to skilled people with a job offer.

Tier 2 - sports worker

A category of the points-based system for coming to the United Kingdom to work. It applies to skilled people with a job offer.

Tier 4

A category of the points-based system which applies to people who are coming to the UK to undertake a course of study at a UK educational establishment.

Tier 5

A category of the points-based system which applies to people who are coming to the UK to undertake a period of temporary work or coming to the UK via the Youth Mobility Scheme.

UK NARIC

The UK National Recognition Information Centre (UK NARIC) is the only official source of information on vocational, academic and professional qualifications awarded in more than 180 countries worldwide. A national agency managed on behalf of the UK government, it compares overseas qualifications with those in the UK, and provides information on qualifications and education systems outside the UK.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom (UK) includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are considered as part of the UK for nationality purposes, but they have their own immigration laws and policies.

Visa national

A person who is a national or citizen of certain countries who will always require a visa to come to the United Kingdom. Some visa nationals may pass through the United Kingdom on the way to another country without a visa, but in some circumstances they will require a direct airside visa or visitor in transit visa.

Work permit

Permission to work in the United Kingdom that is given to someone who has no automatic right to work here but has met the requirements to be allowed to do so.

Youth mobility scheme

The Youth Mobility Scheme allows young people from participating countries to come to work and experience life in the United Kingdom for up to two years.