Sponsor Licence processing
times: How long you
can expect to wait

Following the UK’s exit from the European Union (EU), British businesses that previously relied on the free movement of workers from the EU to fill job roles must now quickly adjust to new immigration rules if they wish to continue bringing in staff from overseas.

Under the UK’s points-based immigration system, any business wishing to hire a worker from outside the resident labour market must first obtain a Sponsor Licence. A Sponsor Licence is a permission given by the Home Office to an organisation to sponsor skilled workers within its business. Becoming a licenced sponsor will allow your business to hire talent from anywhere in the world.

A common question from employers filing a Sponsor Licence application for the first time is how long can they expect to wait between submitting an application and receiving a decision from the Home Office? Sponsor Licence processing times may vary depending on the nature of your business and which service you choose to utilise.

In this article, we discuss how long it usually takes for the Home Office to reach a decision on Sponsor Licence applications, and the premium services available to expedite the process.

Average Sponsor Licence processing times

Under standard Sponsor Licence processing times, businesses can expect to wait up to eight weeks to receive a decision on their application.

The process may take longer for first-time applicants or for newly formed entities, as the Home Office may wish to carry out additional checks or pre-licence visits for these businesses. Similarly, the Home Office may contact you after you have submitted your application to request further information or documentation.

To give your business the best chance of success and to avoid lengthy delays, we strongly advise you familiarise yourself with the application process and documentary evidence requirements before submitting your application.

Faster decisions with the Home Office priority service

In November 2020, the Home Office launched a new priority application service enabling Sponsor Licence processing times to be drastically reduced.

Businesses applying for a Sponsor Licence now have the option to pay an additional fee of £500 to have the consideration of their application fast-tracked. The priority service has a delivery target of ten working days from submission.

For urgent applications, Smith Stone Walters would recommend making use of the priority service to avoid the eight-week wait under standard processing times.

Other priority services for sponsors

A-rated sponsors may also be eligible for additional services from the Home Office at an extra cost.

The priority change of circumstances service allows A-rated 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 Home Office also offers A-rated sponsors the chance to sign up to a premium customer service scheme which provides an enhanced level of support and other benefits such as a dedicated account manager. The premium customer service scheme comes at a cost of £25,000 per year for large sponsors, or £8,000 per year for small, medium or charitable organisations.

Support with your Sponsor Licence application

If you have not yet applied for a Sponsor Licence and you think your business will need to hire skilled workers from overseas this year, 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 contact us today.

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