on October 3, 2023
Read Time: 9 Minutes
There have been well-documented challenges in recent years for dental practices looking to recruit new practitioners, with factors such as Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic said to have played their part in exacerbating hiring difficulties.
Headlines about shortages of dentists in the UK continue to abound. And with a report in 2022 indicating that the profession was at risk of losing one third of the UK’s dental nurses over the next two years, it is clear that the task of replacing departing staff is also a serious test for dental practices.
So, if you are a key decision-maker for a dental practice, you might understandably be thinking of looking overseas for talent to fill such persistent gaps. But you also might have read that an organisation in the UK that wishes to employ someone from outside the UK to work for them, will need to obtain a sponsor licence from the Home Office first.
This is, indeed, true, although there are some categories of people from outside the UK that your dental practice will be able to hire without having to secure a sponsor licence. Examples of these include Irish citizens, those with settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, and those with “indefinite leave to remain” (ILR) status in the UK.
If someone that your dental practice wishes to hire is outside of these groups, you can expect to require a sponsor licence in order to recruit them. So, what are the essential elements of this process to know? Furthermore, how can Cranbrook Legal’s experts in UK immigration law assist you in getting approval for a sponsor licence from the Home Office?
There are five broad stages that your dental practice will need to go through, in order to secure a sponsor licence. These are:
An employer that applies for a sponsor licence will need to satisfy certain criteria. These will include being a genuine organisation that is lawfully operating in the UK – which, in the case of dental practices, will mean being registered with the General Dental Council.
It is also essential that a dental practice applying for a sponsor licence has not had a sponsor licence revoked during the last 12 months, as well as that it has appropriate systems in place enabling it to monitor sponsored workers.
Moreover, the organisation will need to have people assigned to certain roles to manage sponsorship duties, as we will explain in further detail below.
A dental practice having a sponsorship licence does not mean they will be able to employ someone from overseas in literally any job. However, if your dental practice is approved for a sponsor licence, it will be able to hire foreign talent in certain roles on a Skilled Worker visa.
The latest information about eligible occupations for this visa can be found on the GOV.UK website. At the time of typing, relevant eligible jobs for dental practices included the likes of dental surgeons, dentists, orthodontists, and periodontists under the code 2215; dental hygiene therapists under the code 2219; dental hygienists and dental technicians under the code 3218; and dental assistants, dental nurses, dental nurse-receptionists, and dental surgery assistants under the code 6143.
There are two types of sponsor licence to be aware of, and the one that you apply for will depend on whether your dental practice is looking to employ full-time or temporary workers. You have the option of applying for a licence that covers just one type or both types of worker.
The available types of sponsor licence are the “Workers” type, for skilled or long-term employment, and the “Temporary workers” type, which relates to specific forms of temporary employment.
Dental practices tend to require a “Workers” licence rather than a “Temporary workers” one. However, you will need to apply for both types of licence if you intend to employ a Government Authorised Exchange (GAE) worker.
You will therefore need to appoint people into certain roles, with each of these roles having varying levels of access to the sponsorship management system, or SMS. The essential roles are those of the authorising officer, key contact, and level 1 user.
The authorising officer will need to be a senior and competent person, who will be responsible for the actions of staff and representatives who use the SMS.
The key contact, meanwhile, will serve as your dental practice’s principal point of contact with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), and the level 1 user will be responsible for all day-to-day management of your dental practice’s licence, using the SMS.
There is an online application form on the GOV.UK website that you will need to fill in and submit. Once you have finished this application, you will need to send a submission sheet, as well as supporting documents, if you are asked to provide these.
It will also be necessary to pay the Home Office fee for the sponsor licence application; further information on this is set out below.
The fee that you pay to the Home Office in order to apply for a sponsor licence, will depend on the specific type of sponsor licence you are seeking, as well as the type of organisation you are.
At the time of typing, the latest fees were as follows:
|Type of licence||Fee for small or charitable sponsors||Fee for medium or large sponsors|
|Worker and Temporary Worker||£536||£1,476|
|Add a Worker licence to an existing Temporary Worker licence||No fee||£940|
|Add a Temporary Worker licence to an existing Worker licence||No fee||No fee|
Dental practices typically (although not always) come under the “small sponsor” category, and would therefore be subject to the charges in the left-hand column of this table.
Your dental practice will probably be classed as a small sponsor if at least two of the following apply:
If would like to engage the services of Cranbrook Legal’s award-winning experts in UK immigration law in order to project-manage your dental practice’s sponsor licence application from start to finish, you may be pleased to know that we can provide this service on a fixed-fee basis.
We agree a fee with our sponsor licence clients at the outset of our relationship with them. This, in turn, enables them to budget for their sponsor licence application with confidence, in the knowledge that they will not be hit by any further hidden or ‘extra’ charges. To learn more about our services in relation to sponsor licence applications, please feel free to call our central London-based team today, on 0208 215 0053.
We would not use the word “easy” to describe the process of attempting to obtain a sponsor licence in the UK. If your dental practice is looking to apply for a sponsor licence so that it can access a broader pool of talent from outside of the UK, it will need to fulfil wide-ranging criteria.
This process will include ensuring that the business itself is eligible, as well as that the jobs you wish to use the sponsor licence to recruit for, will actually be suitable for sponsorship.
It will also be necessary to have the right people in place to take on the essential sponsorship management roles of authorising officer, key contact, and level 1 user. In this regard, however, it may help that these roles do not necessarily have to be filled by different people; one person is allowed to take on several of them.
Here at Cranbrook Legal, we also provide our own services in relation to the use of the SMS, including training for level 1 and level 2 users. You might even be interested in having a specialist from Cranbrook Legal act as a level 1 user on your organisation’s behalf, which could help free up your own staff to focus on the core business of your dental practice.
It should also be noted that even once you have completed and submitted the sponsor licence application form and sent the supporting documents, UKVI may conduct an in-person visit to your dental practice, as it assesses whether your organisation is trustworthy and would be capable of undertaking its sponsor licence duties. Again, Cranbrook Legal could help you here, by carrying out an immigration audit to check that your dental practice complies with the Home Office’s requirements, and is well-prepared for any in-person visit by the department’s inspectors.
All in all, it is important not to underestimate the challenge inherent in getting approved for a sponsor licence. Our own specialists in UK immigration law, however, have an excellent track record of helping client organisations of a wide range of sizes and sectors – including dental practices – to achieve success with their applications for a sponsor licence.
Here at Cranbrook Legal in central London, we are proud to provide a comprehensive project-managed sponsor licence application service to a broad range of organisations and businesses that are seeking to recruit talented workers from overseas.
We are not “merely” legal professionals, but also have strong business backgrounds. Sure enough, this combined knowledge and experience makes us highly familiar with the various challenges that clients can often face in attempting to recruit and/or get accepted for a sponsor licence. This puts us in the best possible position to advise and support you at every stage, and to maximise your chances of success with your application.
A key element of our sponsor licence application service is the preparation of detailed legal representation for the Home Office caseworker. This will help to strengthen your dental practice’s case for a sponsor licence, and might even mean the department is less likely to feel the need to arrange an in-person compliance visit to your premises. Over the years, we have helped our clients to secure hundreds of sponsor licences. To learn more about how we could potentially do the same for your dental practice and assist your efforts to grow with top talent among your personnel, please don’t hesitate to call us now, on 0208 215 0053. You are also welcome to use our online contact form to request a free consultation.