UK Visa Sponsorship For The Uk Employers (Company, LLP or Sole Trader)
All of UK companies, LLPs or sole trade businesses need a sponsor licence to employ someone to work for their businesses from outside the UK. This includes citizens of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland who arrived in the UK after 31 December 2020. This includes unpaid work, like running a charity.
How To Get A Sponsor Licence?
- UK Businesses should check their business eligibilities for being a sponsor for overseas employee(s).
- UK Businesses should check their business suitabilities of the job for sponsorship licence.
- UK Businesses should also choose and decide the type of licence thei want to apply for. This will depend on what type of worker they want to sponsor.
- UK Businesses finally should decide who will manage SMS- Sponsporship Management System with their businesses.
During the Sponsorship licence application process the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) may visit business premises to check for its suitabilities for granting a sponsorship licence.
The company will be given a licence rating if the relevant application is successful. The company will be able to issue CoS- Certificates of Sponsorship if they have jobs that are suitable for sponsorship.
The sponsorship licence will be valid for 4 years. Licence owner business may lose their licence if they do not meet their necessary responsibilities as a sponsor.
Eligibilities For Sponsorship
To get a licence as an employer, the company owners, sharehodlers or directors cannot have:
- Unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences or certain other crimes, such as fraud or money laundering
- Had a sponsor licence revoked in the last 12 months
The comapny will need appropriate systems in place to monitor sponsored employees and people to manage sponsorship in the business premises.
UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) will review the application form and supporting documents. They may visit the business premises to make sure the company is trustworthy and capable of carrying out their duties.
The company can sponsor a worker if the job they’re going to do has a suitable rate of pay and skill level, or meets the other criteria needed for their visa.
Below listed jobs are about job suitability, if the company will be sponsoring:
- A skilled worker
- A health or care worker
- A worker on any type of ‘Global Business Mobility’ visa (senior or specialist worker, graduate trainee, secondment worker, UK expansion worker or service supplier)
- A worker on a government authorised exchange
- A seasonal worker
- A worker on an International Sportsperson visa
- A worker on an international agreement
- A creative worker
- A charity worker
- A minister of religion or religious worker
Additional Requirements For Religious Workers
The company will usually has to advertise any job they offer to someone with a Religious Worker visa, unless it’s a non-essential position or involves living within a religious order (such as a monk or nun). They must keep records of when they do not have to advertise the job. They need to prove that there is not a suitable person to take the role, who does not require sponsorship. There are rules they must follow about how to advertise jobs for religious workers.
Additional Requirements For Creative Workers
- Creative jobs done by someone on a Creative Worker visa include:
- Ballet dancers and other dancers
- Film and TV performers
- Theatre and opera performers
- Film and TV workers
- For creative jobs, you must make sure that either:
- You comply with the creative workers code of practice (if it exists for that occupation)
- The job is on the shortage occupations list
If the job is not on the shortage occupation list, and there is no code of practice, you need to check that the job cannot be done by a worker who does not need sponsoring.
If You Are Sponsoring A Creative Worker Under 16
You may need to get a child performance licence if the worker is taking part in:
- Films, plays, concerts or other public performances that the audience pays to see, or that take place on licensed premises
- Paid modelling assignments
You must make sure that the person running the event applies at least 21 days before the event.
Additional Requirements For Workers On An International Sportsperson Visa
For sporting jobs that will be done by someone on the International Sportsperson visa, you must get an endorsement letter from the relevant governing body.
You can only sponsor a foreign worker under 18 on:
- An International Sportsperson visa - they must be 16 or over
- A Creative Worker visa - there’s no minimum age
- A Government Authorised Exchange visa - there’s no minimum age
You cannot sponsor a foreign worker under 18 on any other visa.
Types of Sponsorship Licence
The licence the company needs depends on whether the workers they want to fill their jobs are:
- 'Workers' - for skilled or long-term employment
- 'Temporary workers' - for specific types of temporary employment
You can apply for a licence covering one or both types of worker.
A ‘Worker’ licence will let you sponsor people in different types of skilled employment. The skilled work can be for a short time, long-term or permanent depending on the worker’s visa.
The licence is split into:
- Skilled Worker - the role must meet the job suitability requirements
- Senior or Specialist Worker visa (Global Business Mobility) - for multinational companies which need to transfer established employees to the UK, previously the Intra-company Transfer visa
- Minister of Religion - for people coming to work for a religious organisation
- International Sportsperson - for elite sportspeople and coaches who will be based in the UK
Temporary Worker Licence
A ‘Temporary Worker’ licence will let you sponsor people on a temporary basis, including for volunteering and job-shadowing. You can only get a Temporary Worker licence for specific types of employment and visas.
The licence is split into:
- Creative Worker - to work in the creative industry, for example as an entertainer or artist (up to 2 years)
- Charity Worker - for unpaid workers at a charity (up to 1 year)
- Religious Worker - for those working in a religious order or organisation (2 years)
- Government Authorised Exchange - work experience (1 year), research projects or training, for example practical medical or scientific training (2 years) to enable a short-term exchange of knowledge
- International Agreement - where the worker is coming to do a job which is covered by international law, for example employees of overseas governments
- Graduate Trainee (Global Business Mobility) - for workers transferring to their employer’s UK branch as part of a graduate training programme
- Service Supplier (Global Business Mobility) - for workers with a contract to provide services for a UK company (6 or 12 months)
- UK Expansion Worker (Global Business Mobility) - for workers sent to the UK to set up a new branch or subsidiary of an overseas business
- Secondment Worker (Global Business Mobility) - for workers transferring from overseas to work for a different UK business as part of a high-value contract
- Seasonal Worker - for those coming to the UK to work in ‘edible horticulture’ for up to 6 months (for example, picking fruit and vegetables)
You can also use the Seasonal Worker visa to sponsor:
- Pork butchery workers for up to 6 months
- Poultry production workers
- HGV drivers involved in food transport
Sponsorship Management Roles
The company needs to appoint people within the business to manage the sponsorship process when they apply for a licence. The main tool they’ll use is the sponsorship management system (SMS).
The roles are:
- Authorising officer – a senior and competent person responsible for the actions of staff and representatives who use the SMS
- Key contact – your main point of contact with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)
- Level 1 user – responsible for all day-to-day management of your licence using the SMS
These roles can be filled by the same person or different people.
You can also appoint an optional level 2 user once you have your licence. This is an SMS user with more restricted access than a level 1 user, for example they cannot withdraw a certificate of sponsorship.
The business owner/director and their staff will be checked to make sure you’re suitable for these roles. The business may not get their licence if anyone involved in sponsorship has:
- An unspent criminal conviction for an offence listed in the guidance for sponsors
- Been fined by UKVI in the past 12 months
- Been reported to UKVI
- Broken the law
- Been a ‘key person’ at a sponsor that had its licence revoked in the last 12 months
- Failed to pay VAT or other excise duty
- The business owner/director and their staff must also:
- Be based in the UK most of the time
- Not be a contractor or consultant contracted for a specific project
- Not be subject to a bankruptcy restriction order or undertaking, or a debt relief restriction order or undertaking
- Not have a history of non-compliance with sponsor requirements
The business’s allocated staff must usually be paid members of staff, or office holders.
HR Contractors And Agency Staff
At least one level 1 user must be the business’s employee. Additional level 1 or level 2 users who are employed by third-party organisations, can be have that provide the business with HR services. A temporary member of staff supplied by an agency can be a level 2 user.
UK-Based Legal Representatives
The business can allocate any of the roles to a UK-based legal representative, apart from the authorising officer role. The representative must be qualified to give immigration advice or services.
How Long It Takes To Get A Decision
Most applications are dealt with in less than 8 weeks. UKVI may need to visit the business premises.
Extra priority fee may be able to pay to get a decision within 10 working days. This service is limited to a small number of applications every working day. Faster decisions are allocated in the order that requests arrive (first come, first served).
Applications Refused Because Of A Mistake
You can apply to request a review of your application if you think it was refused because:
- The caseworker processing your application made a mistake
- Your supporting documents were not considered
You cannot apply just because you disagree with the decision.
The applicant business will get an A-rated licence if the relevant application is approved.
A-rating - full sponsor licence: An A-rated licence lets the business start assigning certificates of sponsorship. The A-rated business will be listed in the register of sponsors.
B-rating - downgrading licence: The business’s A-rated licence may be downgraded to a B-rating at a later stage if the business does not continue to meet its sponsor responsibilities.
If this happens, the business will not be able to issue new certificates of sponsorship until owner/director made improvements and upgraded back to an A-rating.
The business will still be able to issue certificates to workers already employed who want to extend their permission to stay.