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Employers wanting to hire migrant workers have to apply for a migrant sponsor licence. Migrant workers include citizens of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland who arrived in the UK after 31 December 2020. You will need a sponsor licence to employ anyone from outside the UK, even if it is for unpaid work, unless they are Irish citizens, have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, or have indefinite leave to remain in the UK.
Being a sponsor does not mean that you have to pay for your employee’s visa application. It simply means that as a UK company wanting to hire overseas workers, you will need to apply to the Home Office to obtain a sponsorship licence.
Sponsoring someone does not guarantee that they’ll be allowed to come to or stay in the UK.
What types of sponsorship licences are there?
You can have a licence to hire “workers” or “temporary workers.” The licence for temporary workers applies, predictably, to temporary workers such as seasonal workers or charity workers. General workers are skilled workers with permanent, long-term job offers such as those on:
- Skilled Workers visas, which must meet the job suitability requirements
- Intra-company visas, including Intra-company Transfer and Intra-company Graduate Trainee visas, for multinational companies which need to transfer established employees or graduate trainees to the UK
- Minister of Religion, for people coming to work for a religious organisation
- Sportsperson, for elite sportspeople and coaches who will be based in the UKYou can apply for a licence covering one or both types of worker.
What are the requirements to obtain a sponsorship licence?
Before making a Temporary Worker or Worker Sponsorship Licence application, you must decide which company member(s) will be representing the company. These representatives are appointed within your business to manage the sponsorship process when you apply for a licence.
The representatives are:
- 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 UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)
- level 1 user – responsible for all day-to-day management of your licence
These roles can be filled by the same person or different people.You and your staff will be checked to make sure you’re suitable for these roles.
What is the cost of a sponsorship licence?
Depending on the size of your business, the type of business, and the type of sponsorship you are looking to obtain, the application fee varies. As such, for small and charitable sponsors the fee is £536.
Small businesses, which qualify for the reduced fee, are usually businesses for which two of the following three apply: an annual turnover of £10.2 million or less, less than 50 employees, and total assets worth £5.1 million or less.
For medium and large businesses applying only for a Temporary Worker licence, the fee is set at £536 as well. For Worker licences or licences for both Workers and Temporary workers, the fee is £1476
How long does it take to obtain a migrant sponsorship licence?
Most applications (8 out of 10) are dealt with in less than 8 weeks. UKVI may need to visit your business. You may be able to pay £500 to get a decision within 10 working days. You’ll be told if you can after you apply.
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