Have you applied for a
sponsor licence yet?

There are now less than three months to go until the Brexit transition period ends at 11pm on 31st December 2020. From this point, the UK will close the door on Freedom of Movement from the European Union (EU) and implement its new points-based immigration system on 1 January 2021.

Under the new immigration rules, both EU and non-EU citizens will be treated equally when applying to live and work in the UK. For this reason, any UK business wishing to hire skilled workers from outside the resident labour market will need to hold a Home Office sponsor licence. This will enable your business to recruit workers from anywhere in the world.

With the countdown running alongside a global pandemic, preparing for the new immigration rules may have slipped down the list of priorities for employers in recent months. However, as the new year is fast approaching, any business not already approved to sponsor skilled migrants should apply for a sponsor licence now if they think they will want to hire workers from outside the UK from January.

What is a sponsor licence?

A sponsor licence is a permission given by the Home Office for an organisation to hire skilled workers from outside the resident labour market within its business. Under the new Skilled Worker route set to replace the Tier 2 (General) route for skilled workers, anyone coming to the UK to work must hold a confirmed job offer from a licenced sponsor.

You will not need a sponsor licence if you are hiring Irish citizens or EU citizens with either settled or pre-settled status.

Can any business apply for a sponsor licence?

Before applying for a sponsor licence, you will need to check that your business meets the Home Office eligibility criteria. To make an application, your organisation must:

  • Have an established business presence in the UK
  • Have a fixed office address
  • Be free of any unspent criminal convictions such as fraud
  • Have a suitable employee within your business who you can appoint to manage the sponsorship process
  • Have appropriate human resource and recruitment systems in place to monitor sponsored employees

How to apply for a sponsor licence

The application process is completed online, and involves:

  • Completion of an online application form: This should only take around 30 minutes to complete if you have the relevant information to hand before beginning. You must make the application and send it yourself, but you can appoint a representative to help you.
  • Submission of supporting documentation: You will usually need to provide at least four corporate documents, which could include: latest annual accounts; corporate bank account statement; employers’ liability insurance certificate; VAT registration certificate
  • Confirmation of HR processes – You will need to confirm that your company maintains robust HR processes and systems to enable you to comply with your sponsor duties
  • Appointing key personnel – You will need to nominate certain members of staff within your business to manage the sponsorship process. Key personnel will undergo criminality and other security checks
  • Payment of fee – During the application process, you will be redirected to a third party online payment service where you will pay the application fee.

How much does it cost?

Businesses applying for a sponsor licence should be aware of the costs involved with sponsoring skilled workers, especially if you have previously relied on free movement of workers from the EU.

When applying for a new sponsor licence, businesses will need to pay an application fee. The amount charged will depend on the size and nature of your organisation. Currently, the application fee for a small or charitable organisation is £536 and a higher fee of £1,476 applies for medium or large sponsors. You are usually a small business if your annual turnover is £10.2 million or less and you have 50 employees or fewer.

Businesses will also be charged a fee when they:

  • Apply to renew an existing sponsor licence
  • Apply to add an additional category to a licence e.g. Intra Company Transfers (ICT)
  • Assign each Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). The cost of issuing a CoS is currently £199.

Support with applications and compliance

Whether your business is applying for a sponsor licence for the first time, or you are an experienced sponsor with a large migrant workforce, Smith Stone Walters is on hand to offer advice and support.

Our immigration consultants will work with you through the entire application process and beyond, to ensure your business is compliant with the new immigration rules.

For an initial consultation, please contact us on 020 8461 6660 or email info@smithstonewalters.com.

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