Content is continuously being updated as negotiations develop.

Sponsorship Questions 

How does an employer become an approved sponsor?

1. Check your business is eligible

Guidance is available on the UK government website detailing the documents you need to submit.

2. Choose the type of licence you want to apply for

 This will depend on what type of worker you want to sponsor:

– Tier 2 – skilled workers with long-term job offers;

– Tier 5- skilled temporary workers.

You can apply for a licence covering either tier or both.

3. Decide who will manage sponsorship within your business

You need to appoint people to manage the sponsorship licence within the business when you apply for a licence. The main tool they will use to manage the licence 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 the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI);

– Level 1 user – responsible for all day-to-day management of your licence using the SMS. 

4. You must apply online and pay a fee depending on the size of your business

A small sponsor will pay £536 and a medium to large sponsor will pay £1,476 (fees are correct as of March 2020 but are subject to review). You will have to budget for associated costs such as the immigration Health Surcharge, the Certificate of Sponsorship and visa costs associated with an individual applicant but perhaps also those of family members of the applicant if applicable. The standard processing time for an application is usually 8 weeks and will start when the Home Office receives your application.

What does a sponsor licence enable an employer to do?

After obtaining a Sponsor Licence, an employer will be able to allocate a Certificate of Sponsorship to the relevant migrant worker. The sponsor licence can be used to recruit both EU and non-EU citizens under the new immigration system.

What are your duties as a sponsor licence holder?

A key aspect of the sponsor licence application process is ensuring that as an organisation, compliance obligations are stringently followed. As a licensed sponsor, the Home Office expects you to play your part in ensuring that the system is not abused. This means that you must fulfil certain duties. Some of these duties apply to all sponsors, whilst others are specific to those licensed under certain tiers or categories.

In general, you must demonstrate that you have efficient HR systems in place to monitor employees and keep track of their attendance. You will need to keep records of their relevant valid identification as well as right to work evidence. You will be responsible for communicating with the Home Office regarding any problems you encounter with sponsored employees. Any Certificate of Sponsorship allocated, must be for a genuine vacancy. The Home Office sets outs specific guidance around compliance, reporting time frames and your obligations as a licenced sponsor. Failure to comply will result in significant penalties.

Why do UK employers need to apply for a sponsor licence now?

EU citizens arriving in the UK from 1 January 2021 will be subject to new UK immigration rules. They will be permitted to visit the UK for up to 6 months but will not be able to work. Employers who recruit workers from within the EU or outside the EU they will need to submit an application to sponsor these workers under the new system. They will need to go through the process of becoming a licenced sponsor as outlined above. There are more than 30,000 licenced sponsors within the UK with approximately 300 in Northern Ireland.

It is anticipated that there will be a ‘rush’ in terms of sponsor licence applications from employers who will need to recruit skilled EU workers from the start of next year. It is important that businesses who are not familiar with the process ensure they are up to speed with what is expected of them if they need to recruit from either the EU or outside the EU from early next year. Employers can start to prepare their applications immediately. 

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