Sponsor Licence

How can your IT company benefit from obtaining a sponsor licence?

By Amer Zaman

on April 8, 2023

Read Time: 7 Minutes

The tech sector has undoubtedly been one of the UK’s economic success stories of recent times. It was this industry that, according to a State of the Tech Workforce UK report by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), employed just under two million workers in 2021, making up 6.3% of the total workforce in the UK.

Swift advancements in technology have helped open up exciting opportunities in the UK’s information technology (IT) sector over the last few years. Alongside this, however, there have been pressing concerns about skills shortages among tech-industry employers.

These anecdotal concerns have been borne out in the statistics. A 2022 People and Skills Report by Tech Nation, drawing upon data from a jobs search engine, revealed that tech job opportunities had reached their highest level in a decade. The research showed that tech roles made up 14% of all job opportunities in the UK last year, a significant rise from the 11% recorded in 2019.

Fast-forward to January 2023, and it was reported that nearly 95% of employers seeking out tech talent had encountered a skills shortage over the past year. This finding backed up a report from a month earlier, indicating that a quarter of UK businesses were looking abroad for tech talent.

If, then, you are an IT-sector employer in the UK, you might be all too familiar with struggling to find the right people possessing the most suitable skills. Could it be the answer, then, for you to obtain a sponsor licence from the Home Office, so that your organisation can more easily employ someone to work for you from overseas?

What is a sponsor licence?

A sponsor licence is the formal permission that the Home Office is able to grant to employers in the UK, enabling them to hire eligible foreign national workers for their vacancies.

Whether your organisation is in the IT sector or any other industry, if you wish to employ someone from outside the UK to work for you in the UK, you will normally need to have a sponsor licence. There are some exceptions to this – for example, you will not require a sponsor licence in order to hire Irish citizens, those with settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, or those with indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

You should also note that even if you are successful in being approved for a sponsor licence by the Home Office, this does not guarantee that any particular overseas national will be able to work for you. In order to come to the UK and work, the individual who you wish to employ will still need to apply for and secure a UK visa.

There are various criteria that employers will need to fulfil, in order to be approved for a sponsor licence. Employers applying for a sponsor licence must not have unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences or certain other crimes, and they will also be barred from obtaining a sponsor licence if they have had a sponsor licence revoked in the last 12 months. Here at Cranbrook Legal, our professionals in UK immigration law have an excellent track record of helping UK employers – including in the tech industry – to get approved for a sponsor licence. Please feel free to call 0208 215 0053, or to complete and submit our online contact form, to arrange a free consultation with us.

What are the advantages of a sponsor licence for tech-sector employers?

There are various benefits that your company in the IT sector could stand to gain if it is approved for a sponsor licence by the Home Office. These include:

  • Validation of your legitimacy and integrity. The best talents from abroad will want to be assured that your organisation is a professional, legitimate, and reputable one in its field. Of course, when you are seeking to appeal to foreign nationals, you should be conveying your company’s integrity in a range of ways. However, the fact that the sponsor licence needs to granted by the Home Office means that your status as a licensed sponsor can stand as a further indicator of your legitimacy as a business.
  • Access to an expanded talent pool. As we referenced above, while there is a lot of demand from employers for tech talent, it isn’t always easy for firms in the IT industry to fill their open vacancies – recent research indicates that almost seven in 10 (68%) businesses are being held back by a lack of tech skills. Being granted a sponsor licence could give your firm a powerful means of remedying that situation. Many specialised tech skills are difficult to find in UK workers, but are possessed by foreign nationals who may be interested in coming to work in the UK.
  • The opportunity to boost long-term staff retention. There is not, of course, any guarantee that any given employee at your company will stay with you for a given length of time. However, it is worth noting that if your organisation uses its sponsor licence to recruit someone from overseas who arrives in the UK on a Skilled Worker visa, they will be able to stay in the UK for up to five years before needing to extend their visa. Furthermore, if they wish to switch to a different job with another employer during their time in the UK, they will need to apply to the Home Office to update their visa. These factors could mean that in your capacity as a licensed sponsor, an overseas national you hire may be less likely than your UK-settled workers to leave your company. This, in turn, could support your efforts to achieve sustained employee retention, stability, and growth for your business.
  • Improved diversity within your workforce. Employers in the IT sector do not only seek to increase diversity in their workforces purely for the sake of diversity itself. That’s because many tech companies also recognise how greater diversity across their staff teams, with the diversity of ideas that can arise from different cultural backgrounds, can help the wider company to innovate and optimise its competitiveness. This consideration is, of course, additional to the high-level skills and experiences that foreign national workers can bring to UK companies.
  • Broadened opportunities for your company. While it might be far from the main reason for you seeking to employ a particular overseas worker, it might be that the person you do hire could help your business to branch out into new markets, or otherwise provide a new direction for your company that may not have happened in their absence. At the very least, a talented foreign-national worker is likely to bring an important new dynamic to your tech-sector business, and they might even help to grow your organisation’s reputation beyond the UK’s borders.  

How much does a sponsor licence cost in the UK?

In order to apply for a sponsor licence from the Home Office, your organisation will need to pay the department’s fee. This fee is not the same for every organisation that applies; it varies depending on the type of sponsor licence that is being applied for, as well as the type of organisation that is seeking to become a sponsor.

At the time of us writing this article, the Home Office’s fees for sponsor licence applications were as follows:

Type of licenceFee for small or charitable sponsorsFee for medium or large sponsors
Worker£536£1,476
Temporary Worker£536£536
Worker and Temporary Worker£536£1,476
Add a Worker licence to an existing Temporary Worker licenceNo fee£940
Add a Temporary Worker licence to an existing Worker licenceNo feeNo fee

If you are unsure whether your IT company would be classed as a small, medium, or large sponsor, you should note that the Home Office will normally consider you to be a small sponsor if two or more of the following are true:

  • Your annual turnover is £10.2 million or less
  • Your total assets have a value of £5.1 million or less
  • You have 50 employees or fewer.  

You can typically expect to get a decision on your organisation’s sponsor licence application within eight weeks. It might be possible to pay the Home Office an additional £500, in order to get a decision on your sponsor licence application within 10 working days. However, this service is restricted to a small number of applications every working day.

Our experts in UK immigration law here at Cranbrook Legal can project-manage your business’s sponsor licence application from start to finish, to help maximise your chances of a positive outcome. This service is available for a fixed fee, which will be agreed with you at the beginning of your case. Please click through to our fees page to discover our latest prices.

Allow Cranbrook Legal to help your IT company with its application for a sponsor licence

For all manner of employers in the UK – within and outside the tech sector – being granted a sponsor licence by the Home Office could make a big difference to their ability to attract the talent they need to fill their vacancies. This, in turn, could be key to their efforts to achieve sustained growth for their business.

If you would like to learn more about our start-to-finish service whereby we will help you with every aspect of your organisation’s sponsor licence application, please don’t hesitate to arrange a free consultation with our team in central London. You can also call us on 0208 215 0053.

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