New priority service for
expedited sponsor licence
applications

On 12 November 2020, the Home Office is due to launch a new priority service for expedited processing of sponsor licence applications.

Once the service is launched, businesses applying for a sponsor licence will have the option to pay an additional fee of £500 to have the consideration of their application fast-tracked.

Under standard processing times, businesses can expect to wait up to eight weeks to receive a decision on their sponsor licence application. Although the Home Office has not yet confirmed the exact processing time under the priority service, it is anticipated that applicants who choose the service will receive a decision within five working days from submitting the application.

This is the first time a priority option has been offered for sponsor licence applications, and demand for the service is likely to be high as employers attempt to prepare their business for hiring global talent under the UK’s new points-based immigration system launching on 1 January 2021.

When should businesses apply for a sponsor licence?

Once the Brexit transition period comes to an end at 11pm on 31 December 2020, Freedom of Movement from the European Union (EU) will no longer be allowed, and all EU nationals coming to the UK will be subject to the UK’s new points-based immigration system.

Any business wishing to hire skilled labour from outside the UK labour market from January will need to have approval from the Home Office to do so, in the form of a sponsor licence. With less than eight weeks to go until the changes come into effect, businesses who do not already hold a sponsor licence are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

How to apply for a sponsor licence

In order to meet the Home Office eligibility criteria for sponsor licence applications, your business must have an established business presence and fixed office address in the UK. You will also be required to nominate members of your staff to take on ‘key personnel’ roles in relation to the day-to-day management of your sponsor licence.

Once you have established that your business meets the eligibility criteria, you will need to take the following steps to submit your application:

  • Complete the online application form
  • Submit your supporting documents. You may need to provide a range of corporate documents such as: latest annual accounts; corporate bank account statement; employers’ liability insurance certificate; VAT registration certificate
  • Confirm that your organisation maintains robust HR processes and would therefore be able to comply with your sponsor duties
  • Appoint people within your business to manage the sponsorship process. Chosen personnel will undergo criminality and other security checks
  • Pay the application fee. The cost of a Sponsor Licence for small or charitable sponsors is £536. Medium or large sponsors are charged a higher fee of £1,476.

Other priority services for sponsors

The new priority service for sponsor licence applications follows a number of existing paid-for services the Home Office offers for approved sponsors.

The Home Office already offers a priority change of circumstances service which allows sponsors to pay a £200 fee to fast-track certain administrative changes in relation to their sponsor licence, in order to receive a decision within five working days. Under standard processing times, sponsors can expect to wait up to 18 weeks to receive a decision on their change of circumstances request.

The priority change of circumstances service is available to A-rated sponsors, who can use the service to request additional and annual Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) allocation, add or make changes to their key personnel, and make amendments to the organisation’s details.

The Home Office also offers sponsors the chance to sign up to a ‘premium sponsor’ scheme which provides an enhanced level of customer service and other benefits such as a dedicated account manager, for the cost of £25,000 per year.

Get support for your sponsor licence application

If your business has not yet applied for a sponsor licence and you think you will want to hire skilled EU or non-EU workers in 2021 and beyond, we suggest you apply now.

Smith Stone Walters is experienced in helping businesses in a wide range of sectors successfully secure sponsor approval from the Home Office. Our immigration advisors will work with you from initial consultation to delivery of your licence to ensure your business is equipped to hire global talent under the UK’s new immigration rules.

To speak to a member of the team, please call 0208 461 6660, or email info@smithstonewalters.com.

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