Does my Business Need a Sponsor Licence? banner


Does my Business Need a Sponsor Licence?

  • Posted on

A sponsor licence is issued by the Home Office to UK businesses and authorises a license holder to sponsor the employment of non-UK nationals who are subject to UK immigration control requiring them to hold a work visa to legally work in the UK.

Immigration solicitors say that whilst the sponsor licence system can be straightforward some aspects are bureaucratic and frustrating. That’s why specialist Sponsorship Licence lawyers can help answer your sponsor licence questions and assist you in deciding if your business should apply for a sponsor licence.

UK Online and London-Based Immigration Lawyers and Sponsorship Licence Solicitors 

For sponsor licence and business immigration advice call the expert London immigration lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

Does your business need a sponsor licence?

To answer the question ‘ does your business need a sponsor licence?’ you probably need joined-up legal and commercial advice. A Sponsorship Licence lawyer can tell you all about the sponsor licence application process and your sponsor licence management options. However, your HR team, recruitment agency, financial controller and accountants can add their views on the availability of UK staff able to fill your anticipated vacancies and the pros and cons of expanding your business through an overseas recruitment drive, such as increased staff overheads. The extra costs may be more than justified if company turnover and net profit will rise significantly as your business will be able to seize new business opportunities.

Who can your business employ without a sponsor licence?

If your business needs to employ overseas nationals who are subject to UK immigration controls your company will probably need a Home Office-issued sponsor licence. The position of employing overseas nationals is complicated as not all non-UK citizens need a sponsoring employer to legally work in the UK.

Until Brexit, any UK company could employ EU nationals without requiring a sponsor licence. The position changed on 31 December 2020 when the free movement of EU nationals ended. Now a UK employer can only employ a non-UK national if the job applicant is:

  • An Irish citizen
  • An EU national with settled status or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme
  • In the UK on a visa that allows the job applicant to work without requiring a work visa. For example, international students on student visas can work on a part-time basis subject to their visa conditions or those in the UK on a family visa or spouse visa or graduate visa can work without being restricted on the type of job they can do
  • A frontier work permit holder
  • Settled in the UK with indefinite leave to remain

Sponsorship Licence lawyers say that whether a job candidate is a British citizen or has settled status or needs a work visa to take up an offer of employment, all successful job applicants need to undergo a right-to-work check before they start their employment.

Failure to carry out the right-to-work check or to complete and record it properly could result in your company being fined. The penalties are far more serious if it is believed that a company has deliberately ignored illegal working legislation and deliberately employed workers who do not have a right to work in the UK. For example, to avoid applying for a sponsor licence or to avoid paying for a certificate of sponsorship or the immigration skills charge.

Sponsor licence thresholds

Many small businesses or niche firms assume that Home Office rules mean their business has to meet a minimum size or turnover criteria or that they cannot apply for a sponsor licence unless they intend to recruit a specified number of overseas workers who require sponsorship. None of those assumptions is correct.

Your business can be a start-up company with a modest turnover. All you need to show is that your business is genuine and has a need to recruit from overseas. This flexibility is designed to help the start-up or scale-up business that wants to recruit just one digital or tech expert to grow their business or the restaurant that needs to employ an overseas chef because of the chef’s reputation and ability to attract rave reviews.

Sponsor licence options

There are three types of sponsor licence available:

  1. Skilled worker visa
  2. Global business mobility visa routes including the senior or specialist worker visa
  3. Temporary worker

The vast majority of sponsor licence applications are to sponsor skilled worker visa holders. However, your business can hold more than one type of sponsor licence depending on your recruitment needs.

Sponsorship Licence lawyers recommend a discussion about your anticipated recruitment before you start to prepare for your licence application. Your business immigration solicitor can check that the jobs you are likely to have on offer will meet one of the three sponsor licence options. For example, the definition and scope of a temporary worker are narrowly defined in the immigration rules and the temporary visa does not enable most UK companies to recruit lower-skilled labour other than in specific categories, such as seasonal horticulture. For example, the jobs capable of meeting the skilled worker visa eligibility criteria are wide-ranging but your job vacancy must fall within a standard occupational classification code to enable a skilled worker visa applicant to be able to obtain sponsorship.

Does your business need a sponsor licence?

Sometimes it is obvious that a business needs a sponsor licence whilst in other cases the decision to apply is not as clear cut. For example, a specialist digital or pharma firm may have no option but to recruit from overseas if the latest research and know-how were developed in the USA or elsewhere. With a London restaurant, the decision may not be as straightforward as the owners may need to weigh up their options and look at the cost of overseas recruitment as opposed to the talent available to recruit in the UK and how the quality of the talent impacts turnover. After all, most customers dine at a restaurant for the quality of the food and the ambience and décor are added extras.

Our Sponsorship Licence lawyers will talk to you to find out what your business is all about and discuss your recruitment and employment issues to work out if a sponsor licence will add value to your business. We will then talk to you about what is entailed in the licence application process and the management of your sponsor licence. That way you can make an informed decision on whether the time is now right for you to apply for a sponsor licence.

UK Online and London-Based Immigration Lawyers and Sponsorship Licence Solicitors 

For sponsor licence and business immigration law advice call the expert London immigration lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.


Related Posts

Immigration Rules Update on the Immigration Skills Charge

Sponsoring Overseas Workers – The Supply and Demand Dilemmas Facing UK Employers

A Guide to Certificates of Sponsorship for Businesses with Sponsor Licences

OTS Solicitors Celebrate the 2023 Legal 500 London Immigration Rankings

    Get in touch

    Please fill in the form and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.