Applying for a Sponsor Licence: Things to bear in mind
UK employers that choose to employ foreign nationals under Tier 2 of the Points Based System are required to obtain a Sponsor License. The award of a Sponsor License entails compliance with certain duties under Home Office regulations. The basic eligibility requirements are that:
- You must be a genuine organisation such as a corporation, limited-liability partnership or a sole trader.
- You must be operating legally in the UK.
- There must be no evidence to suggest that your organisation or its key personnel present a threat to UK immigration control (e.g. by having a history of immigration violations or criminal conduct).
- You must nominate staff members to fulfil the immigration-related roles in your organisation: an Authorising Officer, a Key Contact and a Level 1 User. The Authorising Officer must be living in the UK and cannot be your external legal representative or immigration advisor.
- You must be able to meet your responsibilities as a sponsor, which are partly judged by ensuring that you have effective HR systems in place.
- You must supply the Home Office with all documents requested.
- You must meet any other requirements for the specific immigration tier under which your prospective employees will be working.
Under the Points Based System only licensed sponsors are eligible to issue potential migrant employees with a Certificate of Sponsorship. Migrants seeking to come to the UK will need to obtain entry clearance. Each potential migrant worker must also satisfy the Points Base System assessment criteria for the visa category under which they are applying.
Please note that a potential employee’s Certificate of Sponsorship does not in any way guarantee or secure their visa if the supporting documentation for an application cannot be verified independently. Sponsor Licences are valid for four years.
Before applying for a Sponsor License, we would recommend taking the following into account:
- Keep comprehensive and readily available employment records: Electronic and/or paper records pertaining to each current and potential employee should be retained in a logical and organised system. This system should be easily accessible in the event that records are requested by a Home Office representative in a face-to-face meeting.
- Put in place robust attendance measures: One of the key sponsorship duties is the ability to effectively monitor employee attendance at work. To do this, you should ensure that there are systems in place enabling you to monitor attendance on a daily basis. We can recommend the ones which in our experience are the most easily accessible and user friendly.
- Arrange a mock Home Office inspection visit: We would advise that anyone applying for a Sponsor License or expecting a visit from the Home Office organises a mock visit with an experienced immigration professional. This gives you as the employer the opportunity to highlight and address any issues with your current systems and remedy possible areas of weakness prior to an actual visit taking place. This is especially important as for current sponsors, non-compliance (intentional or otherwise) can result in, (i) downgrading of your license, (ii) suspension or indefinite revocation of your license, and (iii) curtailment of the immigration permission of all sponsored migrant workers. The Home Office also has the ability to give out quite hefty fines.
- Retain copies of all relevant right to work documents and a list of all employees in the UK: It is very important that you as an employer retain high quality scanned copies of all relevant right to work documents for any employee, e.g. passport bio page, visa, residence card etc.
Should you be interested in applying for a Sponsor Licence or already have one and require advice and assistance with preparing for an upcoming or potential visit from the Home Office, our experienced and knowledgeable team of Sponsor Licence Application Lawyers would be happy to help.
Please get in touch with us on 020 3553 7711 or via email at email@example.com.