The concept of sponsorship is at the heart of the points based system. Employers wishing to employ non-EEA migrants must obtain a sponsorship licence before they can sponsor a migrant. The points based system has been the biggest shake-up of the UK immigration system for 45 years. The system allows businesses to recruit skilled workers from abroad while assuring the public that only those migrants the UK needs can come to the UK to work.
Tier 2 Sponsorship Licences: Sponsor’s Responsibilities
The UK Border Agency holds a register of sponsors which lists all organisations they have licensed to employ migrant workers. The register lists the name, location and sponsor rating of every licensed sponsor. Employers are legally required to make sure that every person they employ, regardless of nationality and length of service, is legally permitted to work in the UK. Therefore, employers wishing to obtain a sponsorship licence must satisfy the UK Border Agency that:
- they are a legitimate organisation working within the law in the UK;
- there are no reasons to believe that they are a threat to immigration control; and
- their organisation will meet its sponsorship duties.
Tier 2 regime under UKBA’s Points Based System (PBS)
The Tier 2 regime is for skilled non-EEA migrants seeking to enter the UK for the purpose of employment with a licensed sponsor. Under the system, migrants must pass points assessment before they can get permission to enter or remain in the UK. The number of visas that can be granted to Tier 2 (General) migrants is subject to an annual limit set by the government (20,700 for the year from 6 April 2013 to 5 April 2014). All Tier 2 migrants must be employed in “graduate level” jobs.
There are four sub-categories for Tier 2 migrants:
- Tier 2 (General) – route for skilled workers who have received a job offer from a UK employer;
- Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) – route for multi-national organisations that need to transfer employees to the UK;
- Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) – route for ministers of religion undertaking preaching and pastoral work, members of religious orders and missionaries who want to take up employment within their faith community in the UK; and
- Tier 2 (Sportsperson) – route for players and highly skilled coaches who want to take up employment in the UK.
Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
Once a sponsor has been granted a sponsorship licence, they will be able to assign a certificate of sponsorship (CoS) to migrants who wish to come to, or stay in the UK to work. For migrants, being assigned a CoS is an essential part of qualifying for entry clearance (if they are outside the UK) or leave to remain (permission to extend their stay while in the UK).
UK Sponsorship Licence Solicitors
Obtaining a UK Sponsorship licence is far from a straightforward process involving referencing not only the immigration rules but also supplementary guidance notes. Together with this issue is ensuring that the bundle of supporting documents meets the Home Office’s stringent requirements and properly evidences the application. For this reason it is usual for a professional employer to instruct expert immigration sponsorship solicitors to manage this process.
There is currently no appeal process against any decision made by the Home Office with respect to Sponsorship Licences, so any problems against any decision made by the Home Office would involve costly and lengthy legal action for Sponsors.
It is therefore imperative that you instruct professional solicitors who specialise in obtaining sponsorship licences and will guide your business step by step through the process involved in not only obtaining a sponsorship licence but also complying with ongoing requirements vis a vis sponsorship duties.