For migrants to work in the UK they must have a working visa, however, as a company you may choose to employ a member of staff from outside of the UK to work within the UK, if this is the case you will require a sponsor licence. A sponsor license is in place to provide evidence that the migrant has a genuine job to go to within the UK, whilst acting as a pledge from the sponsor to accept the responsibilities of sponsorship.
The license will last for a period of 4 years and if you wish to continue the employment of the migrant then the licence must be renewed before the expiry date in order to continue as sponsor. The responsibility to renew this remains in the hands of the sponsor.
What is a Sponsorship Licence?
Sponsorship has two main purposes:
- it provides evidence that the migrant has a genuine job in the UK
- it acts as a pledge from the sponsor that it will accept the responsibilities of sponsorship in respect of the migrant
Responsibilities of sponsorship
In applying for sponsorship, the employing organisation accepts that they will comply with a number of requirements.
- record keeping
- reporting duties
- Co-operation with UKBA requests.
A sponsor licence when granted will last for four years unless it is withdrawn by the Home Office. The organisation will need to renew the licence prior to the expiry date in order to continue to act as a sponsor.
There are two categories of sponsor. Organisation will be either rated A or B. Most sponsors will be A-rated but if the Home Office assesses your organisation as posing a risk to recruiting illegal migrants you may be awarded or downgraded to a B-rating. If you receive a B-rating, you will also receive a time-oriented action plan outlining what you must do to regain an A-rating.
Employers will not be able to group together to act as one sponsor. This decision has been made in order for the sponsor to be able to fulfill their duties.
How will your application be assessed?
The Home Office will assess your application for a sponsorship licence by looking at three main questions.
- Is the organisation bonafide, operating lawfully in the UK?
- Is the organisation trustworthy?
- Is the organisation capable of carrying out its duties as a sponsor?
Each application will be assessed against eligibility and suitability criteria.
The following guidance will outline how each of these criteria can be demonstrated to ensure you maximise the opportunity to be granted a licence.
The Home Office will check whether your organisation has a history of unlawful recruitment and whether the key personnel nominated in the application form have been convicted of a criminal offence. If any of these aspects are proven, your application may be refused.
This aspect of the assessment will dictate whether your application will be granted an A or B rating or be refused. Each organisation will need to demonstrate that:
- they have effective HR systems in place
- they not have been issued with a Civil Penalty for Immigration Offences.
- the authorising officer, key contact and level 1 user have no criminal convictions in their name.
The list of convictions that may affect your application are featured on the UKBA website. Visa Professionals can also advise on your rights to apply for a sponsorship license while you are visiting, coming to live and work in the UK. You do have to be a national from Central Europe or a national of the Accession States to qualify for a residence permit in the UK. You may already be living in the UK having obtained entry clearance on a visa from abroad.