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Sponsor Licence Applications for Sole Traders

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Sponsor licence applications are not just for multi-million turnover businesses, those companies that already employ more than 250 people or businesses in niche or high-tech sectors.

Immigration solicitors say that even if you have not formed a company or partnership structure for your business you probably will still be eligible to apply to the Home Office for a sponsor licence in your business capacity as a sole trader.

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

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

Sole trader sponsor licence applications

If you need to recruit staff from overseas and you are in business as a sole trader it is worth reviewing whether your business status remains fit for purpose. That’s because although you can apply for a sponsor licence as a sole trader there can be business advantages to forming a company or limited liability partnership so it is worth looking at your options before you finalise your sponsor licence application as a sole trader.

Our corporate lawyers, your financial advisor or your accountant can talk you through your business structure options and explain the advantages and disadvantages. Our Sponsorship Licence lawyers can explain that, if you prefer to do so, you can secure your sponsor licence as a sole trader and then sort out reporting on the new business structure if you later convert to a company or partnership to ensure that your sponsor licence continues to cover your sponsorship of overseas workers.

Sole traders and eligibility criteria for a sponsor licence

With sponsor licence applications size and status do not matter. You can be a ‘one man band’ construction worker needing to expand by employing specialist employees to meet contract deadlines or a start-up restaurant business desperate to hire the staff you need but unable to recruit skilled workers from within the UK because of the hospitality sector recruitment crisis.

The key point about your sole trader business applying for a sponsor licence is that you must have, or intend to have, suitably skilled jobs for overseas job applicants that fall within the eligibility criteria for a skilled worker visa. The jobs that you need to fill with overseas applicants must therefore be on the government-issued list of eligible jobs. Each job type has a 4-digit standard occupational classification code that needs to be quoted in any Home Office paperwork. You must also be prepared to pay the overseas worker the minimum salary threshold for the job you are recruiting them to fill.

Sponsorship Licence lawyers say it is worth discussing your recruitment needs and expansion plans with a business immigration solicitor as they can tell you whether a sponsor licence is likely to help your business. That’s because it isn’t always readily apparent if your vacancies, or the anticipated job vacancies, will fall within the standard occupational classification code allocated to each type of job on the government list of jobs eligible for skilled worker visa applicants to base their work visa applications on. One example, of where sole traders can get easily put off is being told that they cannot recruit a cook through sponsorship as the job of ‘cook’ does not appear on the government list. However, the role of a chef does.

Sponsor licence criteria

Although you do not need to be a British citizen to apply for a sponsor licence you must have immigration status in the UK (be lawfully here) and be operating a genuine trading business from the UK. In other words, your business can't be a shell business that isn’t operating.

In addition to having a ‘real business’ you also need:

  • To be able to show that you have or will have genuine job vacancies
  • The jobs that are or will be available meet the eligibility criteria for a skilled worker visa
  • You will be paying the minimum salary threshold to skilled worker visa applicants. Unless special circumstances apply, the minimum salary threshold for the skilled worker visa is at least £26,200 gross per year, or £10.75 per hour, or the ‘going rate’ for the job, whichever is the higher salary. The going rate is set nationally and is outside the control of the individual employer
  • You do not have any relevant unspent criminal convictions. For example, for immigration offences
  • You have systems in place to manage the sponsor licence and to comply with sponsor licence reporting and recording duties
  • You have not previously held a sponsor licence that was revoked within the last 12 months

Documents needed for a sole trader sponsor licence application

The documents you need to provide will depend on the nature of your business and are detailed in the immigration rules. You should expect to send the following types of documents:

  • Letter or statement detailing your business and the sector you are in and why you need a sponsor licence
  • Hierarchy chart – this can be quite simple if you are a small business or start-up
  • The current or planned vacancies that will be filled by workers who will need a skilled worker visa and therefore sponsorship by your business. This information will need to include job titles and standard occupational classification codes, proposed salaries and minimum skills and expertise required
  • Evidence that you have HR systems in place to manage the sponsor licence
  • Paperwork such as business accounts, liability insurance, and recent business bank statements

If you are not sure if your business systems are robust enough to manage the sponsor licence then our Sponsorship Licence lawyers can take a look, carry out a preliminary audit of your files and advise you on what steps you need to take to give you the best chance of securing a sponsor licence. For those sole traders who are not great at paperwork, our Sponsorship Licence lawyers offer a sponsor licence management service for a fixed monthly retainer fee to give you some peace of mind that the sponsor licence is being managed properly so you can focus on growing your business.

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

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

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