If your Business wishes to apply for a Sponsor Licence then our team at Hunter Stone Law will be able to guide and assist you throughout every step of the process. In order to obtain a Sponsor Licence you and your business would have to meet the requirement of the relevant rules to obtain a Sponsor Licence. However we have attempted to simplify the requirements below.
You might need a sponsor licence to employ someone from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland to work for you in the UK. This includes unpaid work, eg if you run a charity.
What is a Sponsor Licence?
A sponsorship licence under Tier 2 allows employers to employ foreign and migrant workers. It allows them to offer them a Tier 2 certificate, which is a form of work permit.
Immigration lawyers and immigration solicitors are permitted to assist employers to get their licences.
The licence allows employers to be on the UKVI’s register of sponsors. This is a public list of all the employers and employing organisations that UKVI has licensed to employ foreign employees. Therefore if you are an employer who wants to employ workers and undertake a sponsorship role, you will need a sponsor licence.
The requirements for applying for a sponsor licence are strictly enforced – they fall into 3 major categories:
Once a licence is obtained, the number of certificates to be issued (which is the number of employees to be employed) can be increased through application.
How to obtain a sponsor licence
The licence you need depends on whether the workers you want to fill your jobs are:
You can apply for a licence covering either tier or both.
Tier 2 is for skilled workers who you want to employ long-term or permanently. It’s split into:
Tier 5 is for skilled workers you want to employ on a temporary basis. It’s split into:
You need a certificate of sponsorship for each foreign worker you employ. This is an electronic record, not a physical document. Each certificate has its own number which a worker can use to apply for a visa.
Certificates must be used within 3 months from when they’re issued.
When you apply for your licence you’ll be asked to estimate how many of each Tier 2 and Tier 5 certificate you’ll need. These are called unrestricted certificates because there’s no limit on how many you can get.
These are for:
You must apply for restricted certificates for these workers through the sponsorship management system (SMS) which is an online system that you’ll use to assign certificates - you’ll get access when you get your licence.
There’s a limited number of restricted certificates available each month.
UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) may visit your business to check it’s suitable.
After you apply
You’ll be given a licence rating if your application is successful.
You’ll be able to issue certificates of sponsorship if you’ve jobs that are suitable for sponsorship. Your licence will be valid for 4 years.
You can sponsor a worker if the tier 2 or tier 5 job they’re going to do has a suitable rate of pay and skill level.
Offering a skilled job in Scotland
If you want to offer someone a skilled job, it must be Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) level 9 or above for both Tier 2 (General) and Intra-Company Transfer.
There are separate rates of pay and skill levels for:
Advertising the job
You may need to advertise the job you’re offering if it’s not on the shortage occupation list.
You’ll need to advertise any job you offer to a worker in the following categories:
The advert (known as the ‘resident labour market test’) makes sure that there are no suitable workers already living permanently in the UK.
How long to advertise the job for
The advert must run in the UK for 28 days in most cases, either continuously or in 2 stages. If you advertise in 2 stages, your advert still needs to run for a total of 28 days and neither stage can be less than 7 days. You must be able to show that you didn’t find a suitable worker.
Your responsibilities as sponsor licence holder
Your licence may be downgraded, suspended or withdrawn if you don’t meet them.
You must have HR systems in place that let you:
Changes to your business
You must report any significant changes in your own circumstances within 20 working days, for example if you:
You must also tell UKVI if you’re changing your details, eg your address or your allocated roles.
You must make sure that foreign workers under 18 have suitable care arrangements for their:
You must also get a letter from their parents stating their consent to the care arrangements.
You’ll lose your licence if you don’t do this.