Applying to become a Tier 2 Sponsor and complying with your duties
Year on year the Home Office make it more difficult for sponsors to apply for a Sponsorship Licence and given the current climate and the fact that Britain may exit the European Union, many sponsors who employ a number of EU nationals will be looking to secure a Tier 2 sponsorship licence in an attempt to forward plan and not lose their staff.
At present the processing times for applying for a sponsor licence are around 8-10 weeks, which is a considerably long time and you want to ensure that you provide all the correct information to avoid any further delays.
One of the requirements prior to applying for a sponsor licence is to carry out the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) to prove to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) that you have made an attempt to recruit from within the UK. Details on how to carry this exercise can be found on our blog.
Once you have completed the RLMT you can submit an application to the Home Office to apply for a sponsor licence.
Can I apply for a sponsor licence for my business?
In order to apply for a sponsor licence, you must meet the following criteria:
- The key personnel at the business does not have any unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences or certain other crimes, e.g. fraud or money laundering;
- There is not any history of failing to carry out your sponsorship duties; and
- That the company has the appropriate systems in place to monitor sponsored employees.
What type of licence do we need?
There are a few options you have to choose from dependent on your business needs you can opt to apply for both types of licences, or just one, the options are as follows:
Tier 2 is designed for skilled workers who the business wants to employ either, long-term or permanently. Tier 2 is split in to 4 categories:
- General – the role must meet thejob suitability requirements and is for permanent hires.
- Intra-Company Transfer – for multinational companies which need to transfer employees to the UK on assignments.
- Minister of Religion – for people coming to work for a religious organisation (for up to 3 years),
- Sportsperson – for elite sportspeople and coaches who will be based in the UK.
Tier 5 is for skilled workers the business wants to employ on a temporary basis. There are several categories under this option:
- Creative and Sporting – to work as a sportsperson (up to 1 year), entertainer or artist (up to 2 years).
- Charity Worker – for unpaid workers (up to 1 year).
- Religious Worker – for those doing preaching, pastoral and non-pastoral work (2 years).
- International Agreement – where the worker is coming to do a job which is covered by international law, for example, employees of overseas governments.
Key Personnel named on the sponsor licence
The Sponsor Management System (SMS) is the main tool to sponsor migrant workers and is controlled by the business, the business therefore needs to appoint key personnel who will manage the system.
The Key Personnel roles are as follows:
Authorising Officer – this should be someone senior in the business who will be responsible for the actions of the staff and representatives who have access and use the system.
Key Contact – this person will be the main point of contact who UKVI will contact for any queries they may have.
Level 1 user – This person will have day to day responsibility and full visibility of the SMS.
Level 2 user – The Level 1 user can appoint Level 2 users once they have access, Level 2 users have limited visibility and the ability assign certificates of sponsorship only. This option is most suitable for temporary members of staff.
Can third party organisations have access to the Sponsor Management System?
Yes, the business can choose to appoint several users, however at least 1 must be an employee of the company. In most cases businesses who hold a sponsor licence outsource their HR to third parties, in this case they can grant additional access at Level 1 or 2 to them.
Many companies opt to name the Key Contact as their UK based legal representative (Hudson McKenzie) who is qualified to give legal advice, as they find that they can deal with queries sent by UKVI in a timely manner, which in turn saves the company a lot of time. It is also advisable to allow the representatives to have Level 1 access to action requests on behalf of the company quickly.
Applying for a sponsor licence
A sponsor licence application is made online and once it has been finalised they Authorising Officer needs to press the submit button and send in to UKVI for consideration with the supporting documents. For companies that opt to use a representative, the representative will draft the form and advise on the documents required for that particular company and put the package together for submission, the only thing the representative cannot do it press the submit button.
In some cases, more frequently now, UKVI may arrange a visit to carry out a pre-licensing audit to ensure that the business has the necessary systems in place to comply with their duties as a sponsor and ability to track migrants which they employ. These visits are not always pre-arranged.
Sponsor licence ratings
Assuming your company’s application for a sponsor licence is approved you would be granted with an ‘A Rated’ licence, which means you can immediately start assigning CoS’, providing you have been granted with allocation.
If you are later found not complying with your duties as a sponsor, your business may be downgraded to a B rating and issued with an action plan to improve processes, you would then need to pay £1,476 to UKVI to have them re-assess your business and upgrade your sponsor licence.
What are your duties as a sponsor?
If you hold a sponsor licence, you will be required to comply with the following:
- check that your foreign workers have the necessary skills, qualifications or professional accreditations to do their jobs, and keep copies of documents.
- assign certificates of sponsorship to workers when the job is suitable for sponsorship.
- inform UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) if your sponsored workers are not complying with the conditions of their visa.
- monitor your employees’ immigration status.
- keep copies of relevant documents for each employee, including passport and right to work information.
- track and record employees’ attendance.
- keep employees’ contact details up to date.
- report to UKVI if there is a problem, e.g. your employee stops coming to work.
This list is an example of some the main duties, to find out more detailed information, contact our offices today on 0203 318 5794.
Don’t get caught out by UKVI and have your licence rejected or downgraded.