The first step for any company looking to sponsor an individual for a work visa is obtaining a sponsor licence. Once obtained a sponsor licence is then valid for four years and allows a company to sponsor as many individuals as is necessary by issuing Certificates of Sponsorship (although sponsorship requests must be justified).
Generally speaking a well established company should have the requisite documentation available to apply for a licence, however the correct procedures and processes must be followed and there are certain pitfalls to avoid to ensure the licence is successfully granted.
Obtaining a licence:
A company needs to be established in the UK with a sufficient UK footprint, which must be at least one UK based settled person who can assume the role of authorising officer and initial level 1 user.
A company will need to be able to provide at least four documents from the Appendix A list found here and will also need to consider which routes to apply for e.g Skilled Worker, Global Mobility, Temporary Worker routes
If a prospective candidate has been identified relevant supporting documentation should be submitted confirming the candidate.
Companies should have robust HR systems/processes in place to satisfy Home Office sponsorship and compliance obligations.
There are three overall steps in applying for the licence:
1. Online form is completed, filed and the requisite application fee paid.
2. Online form submission sheet and supporting documentation are then sent electronically to the Home Office for consideration.
3. Home Office considers application and if approved, initial level 1 user is granted access to enable use of the system.
A sponsor licence application submitted on the standard track typically takes around six to eight weeks to be considered and approved by the Home Office. There is an option to expedite this to 10 working days with a priority payment of £500 although do note there are limited priority slots available each day.
The cost of obtaining a licence depends on the size and turnover of your company, with companies considered a small company under the Companies Act 2006 paying a fee of £536 while the fee for medium and larger sized companies comes in at £1476.
After each four year period the licence would need to be renewed and the above fees paid as part of the renewal process to be able to continue sponsoring workers.
How we can help
We can offer a full service in respect to filing the application, preparing and drafting the relevant forms, ensuring the correct documentation is available and has been submitted in the correct format, and advising on the respective compliance obligations going forward as a sponsor licence holder.
It is important to file an application correctly and compliantly as a refusal may result in a minimum 6 month cooling off period before you are able to re-apply.
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.