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Apply for a Sponsorship License: Guidance Part 2

After having established the type of licence required and whether your organisation meets the eligibility and suitability criteria the next step would be to prepare the sponsor licence application and submit it along with the supporting documents. This part of the blog will cover the process, documentation required and the costs for the application.

Completing the sponsorship licence application form

The licence application form is available online on the Government website and accessible via the SMS (Sponsorship Management System).

The employer will need the following information while completing the form:

  • Specify the type of licence required

  • Contact information

  • Details of key personnel on the licence

  • Supporting documents which will be submitted along with the application

Appointing key personnel

Employers are required to choose individuals within the organisation who will assume specific responsibilities to manage the SMS and comply with the Home Office requirements. These individuals are called ‘key personnel’ and include the following:

  1. The Authorising Officer (AO): This is normally a member of the senior management staff who is responsible for recruitment and Human Resources as they have oversight of the processes, systems and people involved in the management. There must always be only one AO in place throughout the validity of the licence.

  2. Key Contact: This will be the person who the Home Office will communicate with in relation to the organisation’s application process and on an ongoing basis. There must be only one key contact at any given time. It can be a legal representative, which is the norm for most organisations. Pure Business Law can act on your behalf as a Key Contact and communicate with the Home Office regarding your application.

  3. Level 1 user: This will be the person who will use the SMS to administer the Licence on a daily basis. There can be more than one Level 1 user appointed at any given time. Initially it must be an employee of the organisation but can be replaced by the legal representative once the application is granted. Pure Business Law can be appointed as your Level 1 user to administer the SMS on a retainer fee basis.

  4. Level 2 user: These are similar to Level 1 users who help Level 1 users with the administrative tasks but have less clearance than Level 1 users.

It is possible to have one (1) person who holds multiple positions above in the case of a smaller organisation while large organisations will generally appoint different people to effectively manage the workload. The details of the key personnel must be mentioned within the licence application.

The employer must always have a minimum of one employee who is ideally a British citizen or is not subject to immigration control and does not have any restrictions on their stay in the UK.

All the key personnel too must meet the suitability requirements under the sponsor guidance i.e., must be permanently based in the UK for the entire duration of their role, be a paid staff member or an officeholder, must not have any unspent criminal convictions for an immigration offence. All key personnel will be subject to background checks.

The key personnel cannot sponsor close relatives such as their spouse, partner, brother, sister, father, mother, etc.

Documents required for a sponsor licence application

All organisations will require a minimum of four mandatory documents to be submitted along with their application to prove that the organisation meets the eligibility requirements, i.e., it is genuine and operating lawfully in the UK.

The Home Office guidance regarding documents is complex and lengthy and can differ from case to case. Some of the necessary documents could include (but are not limited to):

  • Latest audited annual accounts.

  • Employer’s liability insurance certificate.

  • Certificate of VAT registration.

  • Latest corporate bank account statement.

  • HMRC registration evidence, such as including PAYE number and accounts office reference number.

  • Evidence of premises.

The Home Office requires a minimum of four documents, but it is always helpful to provide as many documents as applicable to avoid further scrutiny from the Home Office.

Additional documents/information

Along with the above-mentioned mandatory documents, the employer must also provide the following information:

  • Reasons for making the sponsor licence application.

  • Explain the industry and operations of the organisation.

  • Provide their opening and closing hours.

  • Submit a list in the order of hierarchy of all the owners, directors and board members.

  • Submit a list of the employees, if it is a small organisation with 50 or fewer employees.

  • Provide a list of names of people who have access to the email address provided with the online sponsor licence application.

  • A landline number for the organisation.

This information is required to be submitted in a covering letter in support of the application. Pure Business Law can draft this cover letter along with preparing your application.

Sponsor Licence Application fees (at the time of writing)

The fees for the sponsorship licence application depend on the size and type of the organisation.

The fees for a ‘small’ business are £536. An organisation will be considered ‘small’ if it has a charitable status or is subject to the small companies regime as per sections 281 -284 of the Companies Act 2006. An organisation will qualify as a small business if it meets two of the following criteria in its recent financial year:

  • A turnover of not more than £10.2 million.

  • A balance sheet total of not more than £5.1 million.

  • It employs no more than 50 employees

The fees for a large organisation that do not meet the above criteria is £1476.

The sponsorship process also involves the following other charges and fees:

  • Assigning the Certificate of Sponsorship to applicants - £199 per certificate.

  • Immigration Skills Charge - £1000 per year, per worker, or a reduced rate of £364 for smaller companies and charities.

  • Home Office application fees for the sponsored employee’s visa application.

Processing timeframes by the Home Office

It may take up to 8 weeks for the application to be processed by the Home Office. If the application is prepared correctly the processing time may be reduced and employers can get a decision within 4-6 weeks.

If the application is incorrectly prepared, the processing times may increase as the Home Office will need to conduct additional checks and may also conduct an on-site inspection.

The Home Office has also recently launched a premium service which allows licence applicants to pay an additional £500 to receive a decision within 10 working days.

Once the application has been approved, it is valid for a period of four years and will need to be renewed after it expires. Please note that the licence will not renew automatically, and employers will need to make a renewal application before the expiry of the old licence to avoid issues with their sponsored worker’s visa.

Once granted, a sponsor licence is valid for a period of four years. Licences do not automatically renew. The organisation must instead make a renewal application in advance of the expiry of their old licence to avoid any issues with their sponsored workers’ visa validity

How can Pure Business Law help?

Our specialist UK Sponsorship Licence solicitors will help you with all stages of your UK Sponsorship Licence application. They will review your case thoroughly and present you with options on how to proceed. The years of experience that make up the knowledge base of our business means that our specialist solicitors who are well versed in UK Sponsorship Licence for Employers will be able to provide options for you even if the circumstances are dire.

Our approach to UK Sponsorship Licence fees is quite simple. A one-off fixed fee that never changes unless you change the scope of work. So, no unexpected surprises. Call us and get a quote. No two cases are the same, but one thing is for sure. Once we give you a price, it won’t change. That’s a promise that we will keep.

If you are a business who wants to hire Foreign Nationals or are thinking of expanding your business internationally, please contact us and book a consultation with one of our expert Business and Immigration Law Solicitors. We are specialist Business and Immigration Law Solicitors based in London and Bedford and operate nationally.

Our highly experienced Business and Immigration Solicitors can help with advising and acting on your businesses behalf and drafting any documentation required.

If you would like to discuss anything raised in this article, please contact us and speak with one of our solicitors. Pure Business Law is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and is a licensed member of the Law Society of England & Wales.

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