From 1 January 2020, free movement will end for European Union (‘EU’) nationals who wish to enter United Kingdom (‘UK’) for employment purposes.
It is, therefore, crucial for businesses to apply for a UK Visas and Immigration (‘UKVI’) Sponsor Licence for the purpose of employing skilled migrant workers under the ‘Worker’ category and/or ‘Temporary Worker’ visa category in the UK.
How to obtain a UKVI Sponsor licence
In order for a company to obtain a sponsor licence, UKVI will assess the following key requirements:
- Is the company a genuine company currently operating in the UK?
- Does the company have Human Resources (‘HR’) systems and relevant recruitment processes in place?
- Is the company honest, dependable, and reliable?
- Will the company be able to carry out the sponsor duties and evidence compliance in an adequate time frame if and when required?
- Can the company offer genuine employment that meets the Tier 2 skill level and rates of pay?
For the company to satisfy the criteria mentioned above, the company will be required to provide detailed reasons explaining why they should be granted a sponsor licence to enable the recruitment of skilled migrant workers from outside of the UK.
However, if UKVI feel that at least one of the key requirements as mentioned above are not met, the sponsor licence application will be refused. Therefore, it is crucial that the application is conducted correctly and in detail.
The application process
The application for a sponsor licence must be completed online. Once the online application has been submitted, supporting documents will have to be sent to UKVI within 5 days.
Failure to submit all the required supporting documents will result in the application being delayed or rejected. This could also result in further unnecessary costs for the business.
Whilst a company’s sponsor licence application is being considered, there is a possibility that UKVI may conduct a compliance visit to the business premises.
During a compliance visit, UKVI will examine the company’s HR procedures in relation to compliance requirements, e.g. verify any information given as part of the sponsor licence application or, UKVI may conduct a review of the company’s existing filing of employee identification records and right to work checks, etc.
After the compliance visit has been conducted, if UKVI feel that the correct employment compliance procedures are not in place, the sponsor licence application will be refused.
It is also worth noting failure to adhere to strict compliance and due diligence obligations set out by UKVI in the recruitment of migrant workers, could result in severe civil or criminal repercussions for an organisation, e.g. a large fine or even imprisonment.
What happens if the application is refused?
If the sponsor licence application is refused, the company will not be able to make another application for at least 6 months after the date of the UKVI decision letter refusing the application, also known as the ‘cooling off period’. Therefore, it is very important that the application and supporting documents are correctly submitted.
Furthermore, there is no right of appeal for sponsor licence refusals.
Failing to comply with UKVI sponsor licence duties
If UKVI believe that a company is breaching its sponsor licence duties and pose a threat to immigration control, UKVI may suspend or revoke the company’s sponsor licence.
If an existing sponsor licence is suspended or revoked, it could have severe implications for both employees and the company.
How we can help
Complying with UKVI sponsor licence duties and responsibilities throughout the sponsor licence period could be extremely stressful and complicated for organisations and HR personnel, especially with the shortage of time remaining before free movement comes to an end for EU nationals.
Our business immigration experts at Muldoon Britton have substantial experience and knowledge in advising businesses in relation to complying with UKVI sponsor licence duties and obtaining sponsor licences.
If your organisation is interested in applying for a sponsor licence or require further advice, please contact us.
*Please note that all immigration matters are dealt with by Muldoon Britton Immigration Limited (SRA Number: 829759).