Sponsor Licence for Businesses
A sponsor licence is a permission given by the UKVI to an organisation or an education provider to employ new workers or transfer existing employees from their business to the UK or to sponsor international students who wish to study in the UK. A licence is valid for 4 years, after which time it will need to be renewed if you wish to continue sponsoring migrants or students. Some sponsors get into difficulties in obtaining a licence or their licence may be downgraded, suspended or at worst revoked. Whatever stage you may be at, our professionals at Axiom Stone will guide you through the process step by step to ensure you are put at ease and maximise your chances of obtaining a favourable outcome.
You need to have a sponsor licence under Tier 2 or Tier 5 in order to employ new workers or transfer existing employees from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland to work for you in the UK. Likewise, if you are a sporting body, sports club or an events organiser and you wish to sponsor a sportsperson or if you are a bona fide religious organisation wishing to sponsor religious workers, you will also need a sponsor licence to do so.
Before applying for a sponsor licence, you must show that you have met the resident labour market test (unless an exemption applies) to show that a settled worker cannot fill the position, which will normally involve placing two advertisements for the role for 28 days in the UK. Once the employer has met this requirement, they will be permitted to apply for a sponsor licence.
If you wish to secure a licence, you must meet certain eligibility and suitability requirements to show that you are a genuine organisation operating lawfully in the UK, you have human resources and recruitment systems in place to monitor your employees, you are able to offer a genuine vacancy, you have an active UK bank account and key personnel in place and have no unspent criminal convictions.
Key Personnel that must be appointed
Authorising Officer: Every sponsor must have an Authorising Officer who must be your most senior person responsible for the recruitment of all migrant workers and ensuring that all of your sponsor duties are met. The authorising officer is also responsible for deciding how many of your staff needs to have access to the sponsorship management system (SMS) and what level of permission they can have. They are responsible for the activities of all SMS users so must have a system in place to check these activities. We usually work very closely with the authorising officer and guide them through the steps as necessary.
Key Contact: This person usually acts as the main contact between the sponsor and the UKVI. The UKVI may contact the Key Contact with any queries about the sponsor licence application, the documents submitted or the payment made. The person you choose as the authorising officer may also take on the role of Key Contact, or alternatively, we would be happy to undertake this role but would need to be appointed as your representative on the online sponsor licence application form.
Level 1 User: This person is responsible for the day-to-day management of the licence, using the sponsorship management system (SMS). This role can be delegated to more than one person. The Level 1 user must be named on the sponsor licence application form. It is common practice that the legal representative is also appointed as an additional Level 1 user when the licence is granted so that they can access the online system and help with the day-to-day management of the licence.
Level 2 User: This individual has fewer permissions than a level 1 user. A level 2 user may assign certificates of sponsorship (CoS) and can also report migrant activity. You do not have to have any level 2 users, but if you do, you must decide how many. As the authorising officer is responsible for all the actions of your SMS users, it is advisable to keep numbers to the minimum necessary for effective business operation.
In order to apply for a licence, you will need to submit an online application and supporting documentation to meet the necessary evidentiary requirements.
Once your application is approved, you will be granted a sponsor licence that is valid for 4 years and will be given an A rating. You will be set up on a sponsorship management system that will be managed by your Key Personnel.
You cannot appeal if your sponsor licence application is unsuccessful, but you can reapply. You need to wait 6 or 12 months before reapplying depending on your circumstances.
Renewal of Licence
Your licence can be renewed subject to your meeting your sponsor duties and responsibilities and complying with the Immigration Rules.
If you do not apply to renew your licence and it expires, you will no longer be able to access your SMS account, assign any certificates of sponsorship and sponsored migrants would not be able to continue working for you.
You would normally receive reminders from the UKVI prior to the expiry of your licence. Before renewing your licence, you must check the latest version of the sponsor guidance to ensure that you are aware of any changes that might affect you. You will be able to submit your renewal application from 90 days before the expiry date of your licence using your SMS account.
Downgrading a Licence
An A-rated licence allows you to assign certificates of sponsorship. In some circumstances, your A-rated licence may be downgraded to a B-rating if you fail to meet your sponsorship duties.
If your licence has been downgraded, you will not be able to issue new certificates of sponsorship. However you may still issue certificates of sponsorship to your existing workers who want to extend or switch into other categories.
The UKVI will ask you to complete an action plan in order that you may upgrade your licence to an A-rating. You will have to pay the relevant fee within 10 working days of the date that your licence has been downgraded; otherwise, you will lose your licence.
You can only have two B-ratings during the life of your licence. You will lose your licence if you still need to make improvements after your second action plan.
Revoking a Licence
Home Office guidance suggests that often the main reason for the revocation of a licence is that sponsors have poor processes and procedures to monitor migrants. Your licence may also be revoked if you give false information or employ illegal workers. If your licence is revoked, you will no longer be able to access your SMS account, assign any certificates of sponsorship and sponsored migrants would not be able to continue working for you.
You have to wait up to 6 or 12 months before reapplying for a licence depending on your circumstances.
Making an application
At Axiom Stone, we can help you obtain a licence from the UKVI, assist with any difficulties that you may have with your licence, help manage your sponsorship management system and ensure compliance with UK immigration law at all times.
We work closely with our clients’ needs and objectives and achieve results in an efficient and timely manner, aiming to continue the relationship once we have met your requirements and beyond. Our immigration team will guide you through the process step by step to ensure you are put at ease and maximise your chances of obtaining a favourable outcome.
To apply for a sponsor licence or should you have any issues with your licence, or simply to make an enquiry, please contact us on 0207 016 9341 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org to speak to our dedicated team of immigration professionals.