How to Apply for UK Visa Sponsorship as an Employer in 2024

A Comprehensive Guide to Obtaining a Sponsor License for Hiring Foreign Workers in the UK

In today’s globalized world, many businesses in the United Kingdom seek to hire talent from around the world. However, employing foreign workers requires careful adherence to immigration regulations, including obtaining a sponsor license. This post will walk you through the process of acquiring a sponsor license in the UK and explain the responsibilities and considerations that come with it.

Who Needs a Sponsor License?

You’ll typically need a sponsor license if you plan to hire someone from outside the UK, including citizens of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland who arrived after December 31, 2020. This includes both paid and unpaid work, such as charity work. However, certain individuals, such as Irish citizens, those with settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, and those with indefinite leave to remain, do not require sponsorship.

Application Process

To obtain a sponsor license, follow these steps:

  1. Check Eligibility: Ensure your business meets the eligibility criteria.
  2. Job Suitability: Determine if the job you’re offering is suitable for sponsorship.
  3. Choose License Type: Select the appropriate license type based on the type of worker you want to sponsor.
  4. Designate a Sponsorship Manager: Decide who in your organization will manage sponsorship.
  5. Apply Online: Submit your application online and pay the applicable fee.
  6. Possible UKVI Visit: Be prepared for a visit from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to verify your business’s suitability.

Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for a sponsor license, your organization must not have unspent criminal convictions for immigration offenses or certain other crimes. Additionally, you cannot have had a sponsor license revoked in the past 12 months. You must also have appropriate systems in place to monitor sponsored workers.

Job Suitability

The job you’re sponsoring must comply with UK minimum wage and working time regulations. Failure to meet these criteria could result in visa rejection and the potential loss of your sponsor license.

Types of Licenses

The type of license you need depends on the type of worker you want to hire. These include:

  • Worker Licence: For skilled or long-term employment.
  • Temporary Worker Licence: For specific types of temporary employment.
  • Various Specialized Licences: Depending on the worker’s category, such as Senior or Specialist Worker, Minister of Religion, International Sportsperson, and more
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Each license type has its own set of requirements and responsibilities.

Additional requirements for specific categories

Certain categories, such as religious workers, creative workers, and international sportspersons, have additional requirements and considerations. For instance, creative workers may need to comply with a creative worker code of practice or be on the shortage occupation list.

Certificates of Sponsorship

After obtaining a license, you must assign a certificate of sponsorship (CoS) to each sponsored worker. A COS is an electronic record, not a physical document, and each has a unique number for the worker’s visa application. There are defined and undefined certificates, depending on the worker’s visa category.

Responsibilities

As a sponsor, you must fulfill various responsibilities, including checking workers’ qualifications, complying with UK employment law, and maintaining HR systems for monitoring sponsored workers’ immigration status. Failure to meet these responsibilities can lead to the downgrading, suspension, or revocation of your license.

Changes and Reporting

You must report significant changes to your circumstances within 20 working days, such as ceasing operations, changing the nature of your business, or being involved in a merger. Additionally, you must inform UKVI of changes to your details, such as your address or allocated roles.

Validity and Renewal

Sponsor licenses are typically valid for four years. To renew a license, apply through the Sponsorship Management System (SMS) at least three months before expiry. Failing to renew may result in your foreign workers losing their right to work in the UK.

Read this: –Everything You Need to Know About Sponsorship Visa Requirements

Conclusion

Obtaining a sponsor license is an important step for UK businesses seeking to employ foreign workers. While it involves many complexities and responsibilities, it opens up opportunities to access global talent pools and contribute to the growth and success of your organization.

Staying compliant with immigration regulations is vital to maintaining your license and ensuring a smooth hiring process for foreign workers. For further guidance and support, consider reaching out to the sponsor or employer. Use the comment section below to ask your question.

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