If your company or educational institution are registered in the United Kingdom and conduct business activities in this country, you will need a licence issued by the state to employ foreigners or enrol them as your students. Previously, this regulation was relevant only for the organisations that invited foreigners from non-EU countries. However, with the Brexit process ending on December 31 2020, the sponsorship status is necessary for all the organisations that plan to employ foreigners or provide them with educational services on both temporary and permanent basis.
Immigration lawyers from Imperial & Legal have vast experience and know well how to answer the two questions listed below:
Our lawyers will help your company to get a British sponsorship licence for employing foreign specialists within one month only, all conditions observed. We will also provide you with all necessary related services.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not difficult to obtain a sponsorship licence for hiring foreign specialists as it might seem after looking up information on the official website of the British government.
With guidance of Imperial & Legal specialists, every British company can employ a valuable foreign specialist if you comply with five simple requirements:
These requirements established by the immigration authorities are rather simple and will not cause any problems in terms of the main activities of the company. On the one hand, you prove legibility of your future status as that of a sponsor. A real sponsor conducts their activities in Great Britain and the company has a representative, an authorising officer, who works with sponsor licence. On the other hand, the candidate proves their qualification to get the licence: the job offer for a foreign specialist exists and implies high qualification, the company controls hiring and further work of the staff and is ready to go through a check of the immigration authorities.
Your organisation will not be granted a British sponsor licence in the following cases:
Alongside with the filled-in application, a prospective sponsor is expected to provide the British immigration authorities with at least four pieces of evidence. The list of the documents necessary for the sponsor licence varies depending on the area of your activities and on the specialist you would like to employ in Great Britain. As a rule, the following documents are included in this list:
You can find a more detailed list on the government website or during a consultation with Imperial & Legal specialists.
Home Office performs other activities as well, apart from checking your documents and visiting your company, to be sure that it really exists and is able to fulfil all sponsorship obligations.
Each employer should monitor their employees. The following is achieved through this process:
Before you apply for a British sponsorship licence, some employees are appointed to key personnel roles, an authorising officer, key contact, level 1 user and level 2 user, in order to control the process of obtaining the licence and further manage the sponsorship system. To fill in the above mentioned positions, the employees are supposed to have a clean criminal record, no breaches of immigration law and to possess the required qualification, etc.
The access to the sponsorship system is given to the organisation only after its registration as a sponsor. With this system, your company will be able to do the following:
Changes related to business include the following:
In order to get a UK sponsor licence to employ foreign specialists, British companies need to pay a licence fee which depends on the size and type of the organisation. The fee is annually reviewed by the Home Office and published on its official website. A company will need to pay the fee every four years to have its UK sponsor licence extended.
UK Sponsor Licence Fee
A business is a small sponsor if at least two of the following three criteria apply:
Small sponsors also include officially registered charities. Four types of organisation are inherently considered large sponsors: public limited companies, insurance companies, banks, e-money (a company’s electronic liabilities) issuers.
If you already have a UK sponsor licence to employ foreign specialists, you will not have to pay additional fee to cover an additional category. For example, if your UK sponsor licence allows you to sponsor applicants for UK Skilled Worker visa, but you are going to sponsor those applying for Intra-company visas, all you need to do is to send an application using the sponsor management system without paying any fees to the Home Office.
Regardless of what type of organisation you are, it is free of charge to add a Temporary Worker licence to your Worker licence. However, if you want to add a Worker licence to your Temporary Worker licence, it will be free of charge only if you are a small sponsor; if, however, you are a medium or large sponsor, it will cost you £940.
If you intend to employ a foreign worker by a set deadline, remember that as soon as you have applied for a UK sponsor licence, it takes at least eight weeks to get it. The Home Office officials might have questions regarding your documents or need to visit your business, so experienced immigration advisors recommend adding about four to five weeks to this period.
If you do not feel like waiting for two or three months, you can get a decision within 10 working days – you will have to pay extra £500 to have your application fast-tracked.
Once you have received your sponsor licence, your company will be included in the “A” rating in the Register of Sponsors. Now, you will be able to issue certificates of sponsorship and employ foreign specialists. As we have mentioned above, the sponsor is expected to keep copies of documents, track the immigration status of foreign specialists and observe their activities at work as well as to inform timely about any changes and breaches.
The specialist you are going to hire should have a required qualification and experience to show successful performance in your company. The employer should offer the foreign specialists salary at the level that is above the minimum established for this job.
If you do not perform your duties as a sponsor, your rating might be downgraded to “B” level, in which case your opportunities will be limited.
If your licence has been downgraded to a B-rating, you will still be able to sponsor foreign workers who you already employ, but you will not be able to employ new foreign workers or issue new certificates of sponsorship.
However, you will not be able to keep working for long with a downgraded rating. As a rule, when your licence is downgraded, the Home Office will provide you with an action plan to address the issues discovered during the inspection. If you choose to ignore the recommendations, you will lose your UK sponsor licence.
Remember that downgrading a UK sponsor licence is not all the Home Office may do. In fact, the immigration authorities have the right to revoke your licence altogether should any gross misconduct be revealed.
Permanent work permission
Temporary work permission
Starting from 2021, citizens of other countries, including EEA and Swiss nationals, will need to find a sponsor and get a visa if they want to find a job in Great Britain.
A certificate of sponsorship (CoS) is a mandatory document for applicants of all work visa categories mentioned above. A certificate of sponsorship is an electronic document created using the sponsorship management system. All data needed for a CoS are entered into the system, and a foreign specialist is given a unique identification number for their CoS.
There are two types of certificate of sponsorship: defined and undefined.
Defined Certificates are issued for foreign specialists who are outside the UK. An employer applies to the Home Office for a certificate of sponsorship for a concrete specialist, and once it is received, the specialist may apply for a UK work visa. Until recently, a sponsor was permitted to issue only a limited number of certificates of sponsorship a year. Now it is possible to apply for an unlimited number of certificates of sponsorship using the sponsorship management system.
Undefined Certificates are issued for those who are already inside the UK and are switching to a UK work visa from another visa category. A sponsor may apply to the Home Office for an unlimited number of undefined certificates for job candidates who then may apply for a UK work visa. Undefined Certificates are issued for a year and are valid for a tax period which runs from 5 April of the current year to 6 April of the following year; if a sponsor does not use them, they are cancelled.
If an educational institution conducts its legal activities in the United Kingdom according to all British quality standards, it can be registered as a sponsor and enrol students from other countries.
Once the application is approved, you are given a licence number under which your organisation is included in the Register of Sponsors. Alongside with it, you will get your password of the sponsorship management system that allows you to issue enrolment certificates for foreign students. The number of such certificates is limited by the number of students during the first 12 months of your sponsorship status starting from the date indicated in the application form.
Your responsibilities include institution’s and students’ record keeping as well as notifying about any changes, for example, termination of the student’s certificate, their absence for a long time, etc.
The British authorities check educational institutions very thoroughly so even after approving your application, they will grant you a probationary status. This transition period lasts 12 months. During this period, you need to show the immigration authorities that you are capable of fulfilling all your obligations as a sponsor of foreign students. After 12 months, you submit a new application to the Home Office and after another check of your institution, the decision is taken whether to extend or revoke your sponsorship licence.
If the organisation does not fulfil its obligations as a sponsor, corresponding measures (orders, fines) are taken by the immigration authorities and at the end of the day the licence might be revoked. In order not to lose the sponsor status, we recommend you to use legal guidance of Imperial & Legal specialists.
With the sponsor licences system introduced for employers in Great Britain, the authorities reach several goals:
Partly, the goals are similar to the ones mentioned in the previous section: the authorities control enrolled foreign students, secure transparency of immigration flow to Great Britain and mitigate risks of mistakes in the workflow of the immigration authorities. Besides, the sponsor licence system in education is a convenient tool of quality control.
Great Britain is proud of its system of education and the sponsorship licence system allows the authorities to conduct additional checks of an institution to see if it complies with all the strict quality standards in terms of education and conditions of the facilities for both living and studying.
In case the sponsor’s licence has been revoked:
During the given 60 days, an employee without a sponsor should either obtain a new visa or leave the British Isles. If they are valuable specialists and their qualification is in high demand in Great Britain, they can be hired by another company and get a new visa – in Skilled Worker category – with a new sponsorship licence. In exceptional cases, when the licence has been revoked because of the employee’s actions, they should leave the country immediately.
Unfortunately, in this case you will not be granted a British visa. If it has been issued, it will be annulated so that you could not enter the country. With legal guidance of Imperial & Legal, you will get a new CoS and a permission to come to the country.
We will support you in becoming a Tier 2 or Tier 5 sponsor in order to be able to employ people from abroad. Contact our team today to start your application.
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