Sponsored licence application: What route can I take as an employer?
The UK job market is experiencing a significant labour shortage at the moment; particularly in the skilled sector. As a consequence of Brexit, the Government changed the UK's Immigration Rules, making it easier for UK based organisations to bring in skilled migrant workers from the EU and beyond. Following an initial implementation phase, these new rules are fully operational and any UK employer will now need to apply to the Home Office for a sponsor licence when looking to employ an overseas national who is not a settled worker, and who does not otherwise have immigration permission to work in the UK.
The type of sponsor licence application you will need to make will depend on the immigration route that the overseas worker is seeking to be sponsored to work on. Our team has a wealth of experience in this area and has assisted many UK employers in obtaining the right sponsor licence. We recently advised a major UK restaurant chain in obtaining a sponsor licence to allow it to bring in nearly 200 skilled Chefs and Sous Chefs from overseas.
David Winnie, business immigration lawyer and head of sports, advises on the possible routes available.
Sponsor Licence Applications
If you are an employer seeking to employ an overseas national who is not a settled worker and who does not otherwise have immigration permission to work for you in the UK, you will need to apply to the Home Office for a sponsor licence.
The type of sponsor licence application you will need to make will depend on the immigration route that the overseas worker is seeking to be sponsored to work on. Each licence type has its own specific requirements. Employers should note that most EU, EEA and Swiss nationals arriving in the UK since 31 December 2020 now need to be sponsored in order to work in the UK.
A sponsor licence grants permission to a UK business to employ workers from outside the UK to work for them, in their business.
You will need a sponsor licence in order to employ most overseas workers, including Skilled Workers and UK Expansion Workers. This includes both non-EU nationals and also most citizens of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland who arrived in the UK after 31 December 2020.
In order to secure a sponsorship licence you will need to submit an application to the Home Office and pay an application fee.
Businesses of all sizes, operating in all sectors, can apply for a sponsor licence, providing they are able to satisfy the business eligibility and job suitability requirements for the category of sponsor licence they are applying for.
We also assist with sponsor licence renewals and certificates of sponsorship.
Key points for UK employers
The key points for UK employers are:
- UK businesses need sponsor licences to sponsor workers from overseas and this includes both non-EU nationals and also most citizens of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland
- Rebranding of visas so there are similar (but different) intra company transfer visa and sole representative routes
- There are no changes to the skilled worker visa
Examples of the various routes under the global business mobility (GBM) route are set out below
The GBM visa route
The new GBM visa is in part a re-branding exercise of existing work and business visa routes but with the addition of a new visa routes for workers being seconded to work in the UK.
The five elements of the GBM visa route are:
- Senior or specialist worker visa route – this replaced the intra company transfer visa and is designed for senior managers or specialist employees who are being transferred to a UK branch of an overseas company. There is a minimum salary threshold for this route or one hundred percent of the going rate for the job, whichever is higher. Applicants do not need to meet the English language requirement. However, senior or specialist worker applicants need to be currently working for an overseas business or organisation that is transferring their employment on a temporary basis to a UK based company that is linked by common ownership or control, or by a joint venture on which they are sponsored to work.
The visa applicant must have worked outside the UK for the linked business for a cumulative period of at least twelve months, unless the worker is earning a specified sum per year or more. The senior or specialist worker route does not lead to settlement in the UK.
- Graduate trainee visa route – this replaces the graduate trainee intra company transfer visa and is intended for those on graduate trainee schemes who will spend part of their graduate training in the UK.
- UK expansion worker – this somewhat nebulous title is the route that replaces the sole representative visa and is designed for senior employees of overseas businesses who are tasked with setting up a new branch or subsidiary company in the UK of the overseas parent company.
- Service supplier route – this route replaces the contractual service supplier and independent professional route under the current temporary worker international agreement route. It is designed for contractual service suppliers employed by an overseas service provider or for self-employed independent professionals who work and are based overseas but who need to carry out an assignment in the UK and the assignment covers services covered by one of the international trade commitments of the UK.
- Secondment worker – this is the new route and is intended for use by workers being seconded to the UK by an overseas based employer company as part of a high value contract or investment being undertaken by the employer.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.