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To secure a licence as an employer in the UK, you must be a genuine business trading in the UK lawfully, be registered with Companies House, not have any unspent criminal convictions for immigration or other crimes, i.e. money laundering or fraud and not have had your sponsor licence revoked in the last 12 months. If the eligibility criteria is met, there are two types of sponsor licences:
As part of the application, you would need to submit four key documents and these are typically in the form of bank statements, VAT certificate, employer’s liability insurance and annual accounts. If your company is a start-up, the documents you need to provide are slightly different to a business that has been trading for over two years.
When your company is on the register of sponsors it may assign a “Certificate of Sponsorship” (CoS) for a potential employee. There are two types of CoS: defined and undefined. The former is generally used in relation to applications made outside the UK and the latter for those made by migrants inside the UK. Once a potential employee has been assigned a CoS, they can then make an application under the Skilled Worker route and be able to work for the employer.
For a CoS to be valid, the job in question must be sufficiently skilled and the appropriate salary paid. Under the Skilled Worker route, jobs need to be skilled to a minimum RQF Level 3. Each Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) Code also has a specific minimum salary attached to it. This must be the minimum salary paid for the job in question for the CoS to be valid.
As part of your sponsor licence, you are required to appoint key personnel, whom will have certain responsibilities. There are 4 key personnel roles: Authorising Officer (AO), Key Contact, Level 1, and Level 2 users. You would need to provide details of your Authorising Officer, Key Contact and Level 1 user on the application form and these roles can be filled by the same person or a combination of people, depending on the size and nature of the business.
The application is made online via the UK Government’s website. Once the application has been made, the AO must submit documents to the Home Office within 5 working days. The decision is usually made within 8 weeks, however, a fast-track service may be available. The fee for a Sponsor Licence depends on what type of licence you are applying for and the size of your organisation or business and will vary from £536 to £1,476.
The standard processing time for a sponsor licence application is 8 weeks. However, this can vary depending on whether you have provided the correct documentation in the right format as part of the application process and whether you have given accurate information on the application form. If not, there could be processing delays. There is an option to get a quicker decision within 10 working days if you pay an extra £500, but not all applicants have this option as only a certain number of applications can be expedited at one time.
The costs involved with sponsoring a worker depend on the size of the company and the type of licence required. For instance, for a standard worker sponsor licence medium or large companies must pay £1476 and small companies must pay £536. There are additional costs involved too such as paying to assign a certificate of sponsorship which is £199 and, in some cases, paying the immigration skills charge which for small businesses is £364 and for large businesses is £1000.
You can get sponsored by a UK company if they are on the Home Office list of registered sponsors. They will need to apply for a certificate of sponsorship through the Sponsor Management System (SMS) to hire you. They must hire you to fill a genuine role within the company that cannot be filled by a local person. The job role must be listed on the list of occupations and you must be paid the minimum salary that is required for that particular job. In addition, you must be able to prove that you have the appropriate skill level for the position.
A sponsorship certificate or certificate of sponsorship (CoS) is an electronic document with a unique reference number that is given to the foreign worker by the sponsoring employer to prove that they have permission to work in the UK for the sponsoring company. The CoS number is necessary when completing the application form for the working visa. All UK sponsors must apply for and assign a certificate of sponsorship to all foreign employees applying for a visa. There are two types of certificates of sponsorship, undefined and defined.
Depending on the type of worker that you hire, you may be required to pay an Immigration Skills Charge. This is an additional charge that the Home Office collects if you employ skilled workers or senior or specialist workers. Small businesses will need to pay £364 for the first 12 months and £182 for each additional 6-month period, whereas medium or large companies will be charged £1000 and then £500 for each 6-month period after.
Depending on the type of company that is applying for the sponsor licence, different documents will be required as part of the application process. For example, an accountancy firm may need to provide proof of registration with the FCA. However, there are some mandatory documents needed such as business bank statements and an employer’s liability insurance certificate.
A company that needs to sponsor workers from outside of the UK including the EU will need to apply for a sponsor licence first. As part of the application process companies will need to submit an application form and supporting documents. Once approved, they can employ foreign workers by assigning certificates of sponsorship. The foreign worker must be required to fill a genuine role within the company that cannot be done by a British citizen or settled person.
The employer will need to pay for their sponsor licence application, the certificates of sponsorship and the Immigration Skills Charge. Whereas the employee may pay for their visa application.
The Sponsor Licence and Skilled Worker applications can be complex applications, especially as every business is very different. At Bridge Partners, we have a robust track record of advising corporates and individuals with their application process and we provide friendly, practical, expert legal advice and will swiftly spot any weaknesses in their application and correct them. Contact us for short eligibility assessment.