There are two scenarios where you will need to obtain a sponsor licence. If you want to employ a skilled worked from outside the EEA and Switzerland you will need to apply for and obtain a Tier 2 sponsor licence. If you are a recognised education provider and wish to have students from outside of the EEA and Switzerland you will need to apply for and obtain a Tier 4 sponsor licence. The application processes for either a Tier 2 or a Tier 4 sponsor licence are subject to stringent criteria.
Prior to applying for sponsor licence, you should work with a lawyer who has specialist knowledge in this field. You will need to ensure all of your business policies and processes are in line with current regulations.
There are requirements that you must be able to meet to be considered for a sponsor licence:
- · You will not be considered for a sponsor licence if you have previous rejected applications.
- · You must be able to prove that the employment or education that you intend to offer is genuine. When employing an overseas worker, you will need to provide an adequate salary for that position.
- · You must demonstrate that you have proper monitoring systems in place for your sponsored student or employee.
- · A business must be operating lawfully within the UK and be a bona fide company.
- · An employer must have failed to recruit a suitable worker from the UK.
A Tier 2 sponsor licence is required when you are looking to employ a skilled worker who is from outside the EEA and Switzerland. An application must be made to UK Visas & Immigration, if successful the sponsor licence will be valid for 4 years and you must renew the licence before it expires to continue to sponsor staff from overseas. If you do not have a valid sponsor licence the overseas worker cannot legally work and live in the UK.
If a business is found to employing overseas workers without a Tier 2 sponsor licence they can face up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine of up to £20,000 per illegal employee.
Businesses may choose to employ an overseas worker for a multitude of reasons however these are generally broken down into 4 categories.
Religious Ministers, this category is simple it relates to individuals who come to the UK to work within a religious capacity.
Sportspeople, this category relates to individuals who wish to further their career within the UK. Applicable to athletes and coaches, migrants must possess exceptional talent in their field.
ICT (intra-company transfer), this category is applicable to businesses who are operational in multiple countries and are looking to offer graduate training or long-term employment to their employees originating from outside the EEA and Switzerland.
General, this category is applicable to businesses recruiting for a role that cannot be filled with grass roots workers or is listed on the shortage occupation list.
Any educational institute that wishes to take students that are from outside of the EEA and Switzerland must hold a valid Tier 4 Sponsor Licence. There are responsibilities that the educating organisation must fulfil.
The educational institute must ensure the student attends their studies. Any and all absences must be monitored and should the student fail to finish their course the relevant authorities must be informed.
Failure to comply with regulations could lead to an investigation into the educational institute and action may be taken against them.
Any organisation applying for any type of sponsor licence must consult with a specialist lawyer to have the best chance of approval. You should spend time with your lawyer learning about the current Home Office regulations. An expert will help you with your application, implementing process for monitoring and managing sponsorship along with advising of the correct licence you should apply for.
Whether you have a Tier 2 or Tier 4 sponsor licence there are responsibilities that you must fulfil including where necessary, informing UK Visas & Immigration of the following:
- · You no longer sponsor student or worker.
- · You are aware of a change in the student or workers circumstances.
- · A student leaves their course early for any reason.
- · A worker is dismissed or resigns.
- · More than 10 days unauthorised absence.
- · Failure of the student or worker to attend their first day.
If you have no previous immigration offences and no previous failures of sponsorship duties you can apply for Tier 2 sponsorship to legally work and live in the UK.
Yes, you must apply 3 months prior to your licence expiration date.
No, you can also temporarily employ skilled workers under Tier 5 regulations.
4 years unless revoked by the Home Office.
If you do not stick to the regulations your sponsor licence could be revoked. You must ensure migrant workers are suitably qualified, only provide sponsor for suitable roles and report to the UKVI when necessary.
You will need to obtain specialist guidance from a lawyer. Accidental errors can be fixed by speaking with the Home Office and reapplying however for more complex reasons you may have to wait 6 months to reapply.