How do I get a sponsor licence?
Dear Mr Bassie,
I live in the United Kingdom and I would like to know what is involved in obtaining a sponsor licence that would enable me to employ someone from abroad.
It is quite possible that a person will need a sponsor licence to employ someone from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland in order to work for that employer in the United Kingdom, and this also includes unpaid work, for example, if the organisation is a charity.
You should also be aware that because someone proposes to sponsor a person does not guarantee that he or she will be allowed to go to and/or stay in the United Kingdom.
In order for a person to be eligible to obtain a licence, he or she should not have any unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences or certain other crimes, for example, fraud or money laundering, and, if reapplying, any history of failing to carry out his or her sponsorship duties. In addition, the sponsor will need appropriate systems in place to monitor sponsored employees. A person applying should also be aware that UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) will review the application form and supporting documents and may visit the place of business to make sure that the applicant is trustworthy and capable of carrying out his or her duties.
types of sponsor licences
There are different types of sponsor licences and the type of licence that would be needed depends on whether the workers that are needed to fill the particular jobs are Tier 2 - skilled workers with long-term job offers; or Tier 5 - skilled temporary workers. It should be noted that a person is able to apply for a licence that covers either tier or both.
Tier 2 is for skilled workers who a person may want to employ long term or permanently. This tier is split into 4 groups and these are as follows: General - the role must meet the job suitability requirements; Intra-Company Transfer - for multi-national companies that need to transfer employees to the United Kingdom; Minister of Religion - for people going to work for a religious organisation for up to three years; and Sportsperson - for elite sportspeople and coaches who will be based in the United Kingdom.
Tier five is for skilled workers that may need to be employed on a temporary basis. This tier is split into five groups and these are: Creative and Sporting - to work as a sportsperson for up to one year, entertainer or artist for up to two years; Charity Worker - for unpaid workers for up to one year; Religious Worker - for those doing preaching, pastoral and non-pastoral work for up to two years; Government-Authorised Exchange - work experience for up to one year, research projects or training, for example, practical medical or scientific training for up to two years to enable a short-term exchange of knowledge; and International Agreement - where the worker is coming to do a job that is covered by international law, for example, employees of overseas governments.
sponsorship management roles
An applicant should be aware that there are sponsorship management roles that will need to be addressed and the sponsor will need to appoint people within his or her business to manage the sponsorship process when he or she applies for a licence. You should be aware that the main tool that he or she will use is the sponsorship management system (SMS).
The main roles that will need to be filled are as follows: An authorising officer - a senior and competent person responsible for the actions of staff and representatives who use the SMS; key contact - your main point of contact with United Kingdom Visas and Immigration (UKVI); and Level One user - responsible for all day-to-day management of your licence using the SMS.
It should be noted that it is possible for these roles to be either filled by the same person or different people. It is also possible for the sponsor to appoint an optional Level Two user after the licence has been granted. This is an SMS user with more restricted access than a Level One user, for example, this person will not be able to withdraw a certificate of sponsorship.
Once persons have been proposed for the different roles, the proposed staff will be checked to make sure that persons are suitable for these roles. Please be aware that a licence may be denied if anyone involved in sponsorship has an unspent criminal conviction; has been fined by UKVI in the past 12 months; and/or has been reported to UKVI or broken the law.
In addition, the sponsor and the allocated staff must be based in the United Kingdom most of the time and not be a contractor or consultant contracted for a specific project. He or she must not be subject to a bankruptcy restriction order or undertaking, or a debt relief restriction order or undertaking. Furthermore, the allocated staff must usually be paid members of staff or office holders.
Just to be complete, you should be aware that a sponsor's Level One or Level Two user can be an employee of a third-party organisation contracted by the sponsor to deliver human resource services, and the sponsor's Level Two user can be a temporary member of staff supplied by an agency. It should also be noted that the sponsor can allocate any of the roles, apart from the authorising officer role, to a United Kingdom-based legal representative; however, the representative must be qualified to give immigration advice or services. Once these persons have been identified, then the application is made online.
John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator, and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email:firstname.lastname@example.org