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Sponsorship licences

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At present UK employers must be granted a sponsorship licence by the Home Office before they can employ skilled workers from outside the EU.

From January 2021 under the new proposed post-Brexit immigration system, employers will also require a sponsor licence before they can employ nationals from the European Economic Area (EEA). Therefore, both EEA and non-EEA nationals will be treated equally for the purpose of immigration requirements.

Employers who do not have a sponsorship licence will be unable to hire new EEA and non-EEA migrant workers or extend visas for current sponsored employees.

Thereafter the migrant workers will also have to score the relevant points to apply for the appropriate visa.

Despite the Covid pandemic, the new immigration system is still on track to be introduced from the start of next year.

Why apply for a Sponsor Licence?

Employers without a sponsor licence should apply as soon as possible as the Home Office is likely to receive a surge in applications throughout the rest of the year in preparation for the post-Brexit Immigration System. The rules are complex and constantly changing; the process is time-consuming; and responsibility for compliance has onerous obligations on the employer. A licence holder may lose their licence if they fail to meet their responsibilities as a sponsor.

Failure to accurately complete the application process for the appropriate Licence to Sponsor and/or visa, the applications may be rejected which will result in a loss of time and money. In addition, employing a migrant worker illegally could result in fines of up to £20,000 for each illegal worker and criminal prosecutions. Furthermore, the UKVI may restrict you from recruiting migrant workers indefinitely.

How we can help

We will:

  • Assess whether the individual you want to recruit will be likely to score the requisite points to be able to obtain a visa
  • Complete and assist with submission of the Sponsor licence application form
  • Provide the required documents list
  • Review the application and supporting documentation
  • Support with submission of the application pack
  • Setup the Sponsor Management System and assignment of Key Personnel.

Upon successful grant of the Sponsor Licence application we can also:

  • Support you to obtain a Certificate of Sponsorship to enable the individual to obtain a visa
  • Advise you on the contents of the visa application that the individual will need to make, as well as the visa application process
  • Advise you on your obligations to the UKVI in order to maintain your licence and continuing to employ migrant workers.

Sponsor Duties & Compliance

Once an organisation obtains a sponsor licence, they must comply with duties and responsibilities set out by the UKVI. When making the application for a sponsor licence, the individual responsible of the licence must confirm that the duties will be complied with. The UKVI therefore expects all sponsors are compliant.

Therefore, sponsors should ensure that the personnel responsible for the maintenance of the licence regularly reviews the latest guidance to ensure that the organisation is up to date with its compliance and necessary actions are taken regarding sponsored workers.

Failure to comply with the duties set out within the Sponsor Guidance document can lead to suspension or revocation of the sponsor licence meaning employment of sponsored workers must cease.

Sponsor Guidance and Duties

The UKVI aims that sponsors should carry out many of the functions that were previously undertaken by immigration officers and the aim of the sponsor duties is to ensure that sponsors play their part to:

  • Prevent abuse of the sponsor assessment procedures;
  • Capture patterns of migrant behaviour that cause concern; and
  • Monitor migrant workers compliance with the Immigration Rules.

Sponsors are required to comply with specific duties such as:

  • Monitoring a sponsored workers attendance & absences;
  • Reporting changes to the sponsored workers employment;
  • Carrying out right to work checks;
  • Retaining documents set out in Appendix D of the Sponsor Guidance;
  • Cooperating with the UKVI and complying with the law.

Compliance Visits

If the UKVI have concerns that sponsors are not capable or not complying with its duties it may visit the sponsor unannounced to carry out a compliance visit. During this, the UKVI will determine if the sponsor is carrying out its duties, as well as if the employment of sponsored workers is genuine, the personnel and those who run the organisation are genuine, meet the requirements and that the organisation is operating lawfully in the UK. Failure to do so can lead to revocation of a sponsor licence, civil penalties of up to £20,000.00 per illegal worker and damage to reputation.

Employers must be aware that there will be a heavier reliance on their licences from 1st January 2021, as free movement will end post Brexit and all migrant workers will be subjected to the new system. Furthermore, it is likely the UKVI will place licence holders under more scrutiny as more employers secure a sponsor licence ahead of Brexit.

How we can help

We can provide guidance and advice in relation to a sponsor’s duties. Furthermore, we can work with you to ensure immigration processes and procedures are sufficiently robust and licence holders are aware of the compliance duties and adhering to them, and that their teams are duly trained and well equipped to meet the requirements.

Please feel free to contact us to discuss your situation and how we can assist.

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