on June 1, 2022
Read Time: 10 Minutes
Since the Brexit process ended and the UK left the European Union (EU), companies and employers have had to apply for a sponsorship licence to hire migrant workers from outside the UK. This also means that any employer currently with sponsored employees will need a licence to renew their visa.
There are certain requirements that need to be met to be awarded the sponsorship licence, and one of these is having the correct documentation. However, sometimes an employer will need to supply more than just the mandatory documents in order to be successful.
Here, then,is why many employers may need to go further than the mandatory documents when applying for a sponsor licence.
For many companies, there are many reasons why they might want to obtain a sponsor licence. For some, it’s because they cannot find the right people in the UK. This may be because of experience or qualifications.
It may be that they have job roles that can’t be filled in the UK, so they look to workers in other countries.
Whatever the reason, if a company wants to employ migrant workers, they now need to obtain a sponsor licence.
To obtain a sponsor licence, companies must:
The Home Office will conduct background checks on all of the nominated people on the sponsor licence application to verify their eligibility for the role they are taking on. To apply, a company needs to complete the online application and provide supporting documents within five days of the initial application.
Depending on what groups of people you want to employ, you may or may not need a sponsor licence.
Anyone who arrived in the UK after 31st December 2020needs to be sponsored if they are from the EU, EEA or Switzerland.
You will not need a licence to sponsor the following groups:
If you are unsure, it is always best to seek the advice of a professional immigration solicitor.
Companies can apply for a certain type of licence depending on the workers they wish to employ.
A ‘Worker’ licence will let businesses sponsor people with different types of skills. The length of time can be short-term, long-term or permanent, depending on the visa that the worker has applied for.
This licence covers skilled workers who must meet the job suitability requirements. It also covers Intra-company visas, Intra-company Transfer and Inter-company Graduate trainees. These relate to multinational companies that need to transfer established employees or graduate trainees to the UK.
The licence also covers ‘Ministers of Religion’ who are coming to work for a religious organisation and ‘International Sportsperson’ for elite athletes and coaches set to be based in the UK.
The ‘Temporary Worker’licence lets companies sponsor people on a temporary basis. This includes for volunteering and job-shadowing but is only for specific types of employment and visas. The ‘Temporary Worker’ licence suits:
Seasonal workers who come to work in ‘edible horticulture’ — such as fruit picking — for up to six months.
Although there are a number of documents that may need to be provided by the company, there are some that are mandatory depending on the type of route the employee is using to enter the UK.
In the government guidance, there are four tables listing the documents you may need to send. Table 3 is for mandatory documents that are route-specific. Tables 1, 2 and 4 list documents that need to be sent for specific types of business.
Here are several examples of mandatory documents that your particular company could need to submit in support of a sponsor licence application:
For companies that are not required to use the PAYE system, it is important that up-to-date salary details are submitted to HMRC.
The list above includes examples of the documents that can be necessary for many companies to submit. However, there are some other documents that may need to be submitted because of the route the migrant worker is using to enter the UK.
If a company fails to send these additional documents, then the application could be refused. This would cause a delay in employing the migrant worker needed.
For some refusals, there is also a ‘cooling-off period’ that prevents a company from reapplying immediately. This usually depends on why the application was refused but can be for anything from six months to five months. The Home Office may impose a cooling-off period if they believe your organisation acted in bad faith; for example, by submitting a document the Home Office deems non-genuine, or purposefully attempting to defraud by falsely presenting a role as reaching the required skilllevel.
As mentioned above, there are currently four tables that are used to list any additional documentation or proof required depending on the route taken.
A copy of the endorsement from the governing body of the sport is needed which has been approved by the Home Office with the governing body unique reference number.
Evidence is required that shows the company has awarded a services contract for a period of 12 months or less. This should have been done through open tendering and so be guaranteed bona fide under an international trade agreement.
These applications need to be supported by an endorsing government department — or one of its executive agencies — and approved by the Home Office before the application is sent.
This needs a copy of the endorsement from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). There is an initial process taken with Defra that, if successful, allows you to apply for this sponsor licence.
The organisation must first check the Sponsor a Minister of Religion or Religious Worker document to confirm that it can qualify for this licence.
The information about itself the organisation must send to the Home Office includes:
These are just examples of the documents that an organisation may need to submit. Because of the number of potential documents and requirements of the Home Office, it is easier to speak to a qualified immigration solicitor who can advise what documents may be needed.
Because there may be many documents requested by the Home Office, you should make sure a detailed list of the documents submitted is included with the application. This list can then be consulted by the immigration caseworker who checks the application.
You might be able to scan or photographmany of the documents and send the resulting images to the email address on the submission sheet. This would be far easier than sending paper copies of all the documents.
If any documents are not in English or Welsh, they must come with a certified translation.
If the documents cannot be scanned or photographed, you can use alternative contact details provided on the submission sheet.
Some information, such as that from HMRC, may be collected electronically by the Home Office.
During and after the sponsorship licence application, the Home Office may conduct checks at the premises of the organisation to ensure the company is able to comply with the rules.
The guidance under ‘Workers and Temporary Workers: guidance for sponsors part 3: sponsor duties and compliance’ states that “Significant trust is placed in sponsors and they must ensure they comply with immigration law and wider UK law, and not behave in a manner that is not conducive to the wider public good”.
This means it is the sponsor company’s responsibility to ensure the migrant workers are treated fairly and that no rules under working hours etc. are breached.
It is always a good idea to ensure that the company and its workers are fully trained in how to deal with migrant workers and any reporting that may need to be carried out.
One way that this can be achieved is by setting up mock visits — in other words, checks replicating actual visits from the Home Office — in order to assess whether the right documents and evidence are available.
A business immigration solicitor can help with these mock visits by looking at the meeting through the eyes of a Home Office officer.
The sponsoring company’s responsibilities include completing reports when certain events occur with the migrant workers. These events must be reported within 10 working days of occurring.
Some of the reporting reasons include:
There are also some changes that need to be reported within 20 days — such as a business merger, change of business name or insolvency.
As well as the Immigration Rules, companies are required to comply with the wider law regarding working rules and other legislation. For example, businesses are expected to:
Navigating through the sponsorshiplicence application process can be hard. It is important that a company gets the best advice possible for its application for a sponsor licence. This will give the company the best chance of success, as well as ensure it is complying during and after the application.
You can get tailored advice on your own circumstances and needs as a business or individual by speaking to our award-winning immigration solicitors in central London. They are trained to provide you with the best advice and offer any support you need. Please do not hesitate to call Cranbrook Legal today on 0208 215 0053.