Skilled Worker Visas: Sponsor Licence Holders Applying for a Certificate of Sponsorship
When you are a UK business owner who has successfully applied for a sponsor licence from the Home Office and then gone about a detailed and rigorous recruitment and selection process you may feel that you have reached the end of the road and ‘job done’. UK immigration solicitors would caution against that approach. That’s because if you are recruiting a skilled migrant worker on a skilled worker visa you haven’t completed the process as your key personnel need to apply for and allocate a certificate of sponsorship to the successful overseas job applicant. The skilled migrant worker can then use the certificate of sponsorship reference number to apply for their skilled worker visa.
UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors
For specialist advice on applying for a sponsor licence and sponsor licence management call the immigration law team at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online. Appointments are available by phone or video call.
The certificate of sponsorship
For those UK businesses who are applying for their first sponsor licence ,or who have recently secured a sponsor licence, the whole process of recruiting overseas skilled migrant workers can be a bit of a minefield of both immigration and employment law.
Since the introduction of the skilled worker visa in December 2020 there is no longer a legal requirement on sponsor licence holders to conduct a resident labour market test before proceeding to recruit from overseas. However, UK businesses who want to employ skilled migrant workers need to be able to demonstrate that they are recruiting to fill a genuine job vacancy and that the job meets both the required skill level and the minimum salary threshold as well as the applicant meeting the eligibility criteria for the skilled worker visa.
Once the new recruit has been identified there then starts the beginning of the visa application process. That process has to be commenced by the UK employer. That’s because a skilled worker visa applicant can't submit an application for a skilled worker visa without a certificate of sponsorship by a sponsor licence holder.
The reference to a certificate can be rather confusing to skilled worker visa applicants expecting a piece of embossed paper. The certificate is just a reference number, but is a crucial part of the recruiting and onboarding process for skilled migrant workers.
Many senior executives assume that there is no skill involved in allocating a certificate of sponsorship on their sponsor management system but HR staff and immigration solicitors would disagree. One of the main reasons for the refusal of skilled worker visa applications is question marks arising over whether the job meets the eligibility criteria for the skilled worker visa and whether the job meets the code allocated in the certificate of sponsorship.
Immigration solicitors therefore recommend that it is best to spend time of making sure that certificate of sponsorship allocation applications are submitted correctly so questions aren’t asked by the Home Office. That’s because answering those Home Office enquiries can either result in delay in visa application processing or, if the Home Office isn’t satisfied with the response, the refusal of an application for a skilled worker visa.
The certificate of sponsorship process
The first step in the certificate of sponsorship process is to check on the type of certificate of sponsorship required , namely a defined certificate of sponsorship or an undefined certificate of sponsorship.
The undefined certificate of sponsorship is the easier to process of the two options as there are no limits on numbers. With the defined certificate of sponsorship, the sponsor licence holder has to make a request of the Home Office for the assignment of a certificate of sponsorship so they can then allocate the certificate of sponsorship to the successful job candidate as the recruit requires the certificate to be able to proceed with their skilled worker visa application.
However, many UK sponsor licence holders are experiencing additional Home Office questioning when seeking certificates of sponsorship or delay in allocation of the certificate of sponsorship. This in turn delays the recruitment process and the employment start date for the skilled worker visa holder.
Some HR executives and UK business owners are asking what they can do to speed up the certificate of sponsorship process and the recruitment of skilled worker visa holders. One option is for a sponsor licence holder to apply for priority service. However, that comes at a cost and adds to the expense of recruitment at a time when many businesses, large or small, want to keep overheads down.
An option to try to make the certificate of sponsorship process proceed as smoothly as possible is to provide specialist training to HR staff and sponsor licence key personnel on the certificate of sponsorship process. The cost of the training can pay dividends if it results in better certificate of sponsorship processing times.
An alternative option is use of a specialist sponsor management service to help manage the sponsor licence and offer expert guidance on the certificate of sponsorship process. This solution can be the best option for small business owners without large HR departments or for multi-office busy firms who don’t have the HR capacity to manage the sponsor licence. Effective sponsor licence management not only means efficient certificate of sponsorship allocation but reduced risk of sponsor licence compliance issues arising resulting in a firm’s sponsor licence being at risk of downgrading, suspension or even revocation.
It is easy for boards and business owners to forget that recruitment doesn’t end with a successful second interview and identification of the successful job candidate. Once the recruitment process is at that stage the reality is that when you are recruiting from overseas you are then moving to phase two of the recruitment process. Whilst the end may appear in sight there is a lot of paperwork to process and get right before the new skilled migrant worker can start day one of their employment journey with your business.
UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors
For specialist advice on either applying for your sponsor licence application or sponsor licence management services or training call the immigration law team at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online. Appointments are available by phone or video call.