Sponsorship Licence: Hiring migrant workers

If your business aims to bring in international talent, a UK Sponsorship License is the key to unlocking this possibility. This crucial license allows businesses to hire workers from outside the UK, facilitating a seamless process. While exceptions exist for certain groups, obtaining a Sponsorship License is generally a prerequisite for businesses engaging in global recruitment.

What is a Sponsorship License?

This is for businesses who would like to hire workers outside of the UK. In order for you to do this, you would need a license to bring someone from outside of the UK to work for you.

There are some cases where you will not need a license to sponsor groups of individuals, for example: Irish citizens, people with settled or pre-settled status under the EU settlement scheme and finally, people who have indefinite leave to remain (“ILR”).

An important point to note is that an individual being sponsored by you has no bearing on their ability to obtain visa to work for you in the UK.

How can I get a Sponsorship License?

First your business must meet certain eligibility criterion. Next you must ensure the job you are hiring for is fit for sponsorship after which you can decide on the type of license you wish to obtain for the purposes of sponsorship.

After ascertaining the type of license, you wish to obtain, you must appoint individuals within your business to manage the sponsorship process when you apply for a license.

Eligibility criteria

Before diving into the intricacies of obtaining a Sponsorship License, it’s imperative for your business to meet specific eligibility criteria. Criminal convictions related to immigration offenses or other crimes, and a revoked sponsor license in the last 12 months, are key disqualifiers.

Navigating the Sponsorship License application process demands detailed information about your business. To ensure a strong application, it is highly recommended to engage qualified immigration lawyers. Our expert immigration team at DJF Solicitors can guide you through this intricate process, ensuring a smooth and successful application.

Who can I sponsor?

You may sponsor a worker where their job would attract a suitable rate of pay and skill level. Their job must also meet further criterion needed for their visa. The types of workers and licences available to them are explained below.

The types of license

This will vary according to the types of worker you are wanting to hire; these could be:

  1. Workers – for long-term employment or skilled workers
  2. Temporary workers – for temporary employments or specific types of employment

A license may be obtained to cover either one type of worker or both.

Worker License Categories

The main category is a Skilled Worker. This is a route typically made for those living abroad who have been offered a job in the UK and is designed to give those the right to work in the UK for a minimum of 3 years and up to 5. After which they may apply for settlement, read our success story to find out how we have assisted clients in obtaining settlement, also known as Indefinite Leave to Remain.

There are sub-categories within a Skilled Worker visa which includes:

  • A Sportsperson
  • A Minister of Religion
  • A Senior or Specialist Worker

Temporary Worker License Categories

This category is designed for skilled workers who will take on temporary employment contracts.

There are also sub-categories within this kind of visa, these are:

  • A Creative Worker
  • An International Sportsperson
  • A Charity Worker
  • A Religious Worker
  • An International Agreement Worker
  • A Government Authorised Exchange

Contact DJF Solicitors to find out more on each of the sub-categories of both types of visas, whether you fall within any and how to apply.

How long does it take to get a UK Sponsorship License?

You can expect to receive a decision within 8 weeks. You may be able to pay an extra £500 in order to receive a decision faster however, this service is very limited and the decisions will be allocated on a first come, first basis to those who have paid the extra charge.

My application was refused because of a mistake, what can I do?

In this case, you may apply for a review of your application. This is only available where you feel the application as refused as a result of:

  • The caseworker processing your application has made a mistake
  • Your supporting documents were not considered

And not because you are unhappy with the decision.

How much does a Sponsorship License cost?

This will depend on the size of your business and the kinds of workers you wish to employ.

The table below explains the fees. For further information on how to determine whether you are a small, medium, large or charitable sponsor, contact our London immigration Solicitors to receive thorough advise on this.

Type of LicenseFee for small or charitable sponsorsFee for medium or large sponsors
Worker£536   £1,476
Temporary Worker£536   £536   
Worker and Temporary Worker£536   £1,476
Add a Worker licence to an existing Temporary Worker licenceNo fee£940
Add a Temporary Worker licence to an existing Worker licenceNo feeNo fee

How do I get a Certificate of Sponsorship number?

You must request a Certificate of Sponsorship (“CoS”) from the Home Office via the Sponsor Management System (“SMS”). Once a CoS is granted, your business will be required to allocate it to the migrant workers you intend to take on for employment. This allocation will result in a unique reference number for the worker who will have to submit this number within their visa application.

There are two types of CoS’s: defined and undefined.

A defined CoS is required for applicants who are based outside of the UK and are making an application for entry clearance as a Skilled Worker. It typically takes around 1 working day for a defined CoS to be approved. However, it may take longer where the Home Office finds that further clarification of information is necessary.

Whereas, an undefined CoS is required for Skilled Workers applying from inside the UK and applicants on all other visas.

A fee is required for assigning a certificate to a worker. This fee is dependant on the type of sponsor license, detailed in the table below.

Type of Licence              Cost per certificate
Worker (except workers on the International Sportsperson visa)£199
Temporary Worker£21
International Sportsperson – where the certificate of sponsorship is assigned for more than 12 months£199
International Sportsperson – where the certificate of sponsorship is assigned for 12 months or less£21

What is Immigration Skills Charge and do I need to pay?

As a sponsor, you may also have to pay what is called an Immigration Skills Charge (“ISC”) upon assigning a CoS to an individual applying for a Skilled Worker or Senior or Specialist Worker visa.

There is a requirement to pay the ISC if the applicant is applying for a visa from:

  • Outside the UK to work in the UK for a period of 6 months or more
  • Inside the UK for any length of time

However, there are instances where you do not have to pay the ISC for certain categories of workers. At DJF, our specialist London Immigration Lawyers can advise you on whether your business is exempt from paying the ISC based on the type of workers you wish to employ.

Why instruct our specialist Immigration Solicitors?

Our team of solicitors and barristers represent your interests at all times. On initial consultation, our highly competent team will advise you regarding your immigration status and assist with your application from the very beginning.

We are based in the legal epicenter of London, just across the road from the Royal Courts of Justice in order to ensure we get the best results for our clients. DJF Solicitors is just minutes away from the Royal Courts of Justice and other central London courts. If you wish to meet one of our lawyers, please call our Immigration Team so we can assess your case and arrange your legal consultation. Contact our London immigration solicitors on 02030110276 or complete our contact form.

Authored by Tehreem Fatima, Paralegal

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