In order to employ skilled workers from outside the EU, UK employers must first apply to UK Visas and Immigration for a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence (SPL). Employers who do not have a SPL will be unable to hire new workers from outside the UK.
Sponsor Licence application
Through the application process, the UKVI will go through a vetting process of your company by way of the supporting evidence provided to get a better understanding of your company structure to show the duties and responsibilities required for managing the SPL can be met.
In addition, the UKVI will consider:
You must be a genuine organisation (such as a corporation or a limited liability partnership), or a sole trader;
And operating legally in the United Kingdom;
You are honest, dependable and reliable and any key personnel have not been subject to any civil or criminal proceedings;
You must nominate at least three staff members to fulfil the immigration-related roles in your organisation: An Authorising Officer, a Key Contact and a Level 1 User;
You are capable of carrying out your sponsor duties and evidencing your compliance in an appropriate timeframe and manner;
You can offer genuine employment that meets the Skilled Worker requirements and appropriate rates of pay.
They will undertake a genuineness approach to the role that is being filled by the foreign national migrant, on how it fits within your organisation as a whole.
The application process
You will complete an online licence application and provide supporting documentation, which must be provided within five days of the initial application.
Once you have applied online for your licence, you must send the following documents:
The submission sheet, signed and dated by your authorising officer (all pages must be sent)
All of the mandatory documents listed on the submission sheet
You should scan or take pictures of your supporting documents and send them to the email address given on the submission sheet.
Any affidavits or statutory declarations you send must have been witnessed by a qualified, independent person – for example, a solicitor, Notary Public, Justice of the Peace, Commissioner for Oaths, or (in Scotland only) a Councillor.
Original documents will be returned by Royal Mail Signed For delivery to the address of the Authorising Officer. Certified copies sent by post must meet the requirements set out in the sponsor guidance.
Failure to submit the required documents may result in an application being delayed, rejected or refused. If your application is refused there is no right of appeal.
Following the receipt of these documents, you may be subject to a compliance visit from UKVI, who will assess through a fact-finding process on whether or not to grant the sponsorship licence.
Companies will also be required to comply with the illegal working requirements which states that all non-UK employees are required to provide documentation that proves their right to work before being employed by a UK company and copies of this information must also be retained by the employer.
A successful sponsor licence application will enable your organisation to lawfully employ skilled migrant workers.
If your sponsor licence application is successful, your company will be placed on the list of registered sponsors and you will be permitted to assign Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) to qualifying candidates, enabling them to make their visa application to the Home Office.
Sponsor Licence approval
Once your application has been approved, you will be granted an A-rated sponsor licence, following which you can start assigning Certificates of Sponsorship to migrants who wish to work for you, and you will be listed under the register of sponsors.
You will be given access to the Sponsor Management System (SMS). This is an online portal where you can manage your licence. You must also use the system to report certain events, such as if a migrant fails to report to work.
A sponsor licence is valid for 4 years, after which you will need to apply for a Sponsor Licence Renewal.