The basics on applying for a Sponsor Licence to recruit Tier 2 (General) visa migrant workers

 
 

It is a difficult time to be an employer. There is the worry over the economy. There is the continued confusion over Brexit. In particular, whether there will be a deal or not, and what that will mean to business. On top of those issues, many employers are finding it hard to recruit UK staff to fill vacancies because of low unEmployment combined with the reduction in migrant workers coming to the UK after the Brexit referendum.   

 
Some employers are recognising the need to recruit EEA and non-EEA citizens to fill vacancies. However, in order to employ a skilled non-EEA worker UK employers have to obtain a sponsor licence. If Brexit takes place then employers will also probably need a sponsor licence to employ skilled EEA staff.
 
15% of current sponsor licence applications are refused. The figure is no surprise to Top London immigration solicitors because of the complexity of the application and evidence required to support it.
 
If your business is contemplating making a sponsor licence application it is important to get it right first time round to minimise the cost of the application and the time taken to secure it as a company cannot recruit skilled non EEA staff without a sponsor licence
 

How can OTS Solicitors help? 

 
OTS Solicitors advise on all aspects of business immigration and are experts in applying for Sponsor Licences for companies and advising on the management of Sponsor Licences and re-applications for Sponsor Licences after revocations. Our expertise is recognised in the legal directory, Legal 500.
 
For more information on sponsor licence applications or other aspect of business immigration law please call us on 0203 959 9123 to arrange an appointment to speak to one of our experienced London immigration solicitors who will be happy to help.
 

The basics of company Sponsor Licences 

 
A sponsor licence is valid for four years. The best London immigration solicitors therefore advise that a company carefully consider its recruitment needs over that timeframe so that the sponsor licence is suitable to meet its planned recruitment.
 
A sponsor licence involves a great deal of company planning as when a company  applies for a sponsor licence they need to set out the categories of migrant non EEA workers they need to recruit, namely:
 

Tier 2 workers: Skilled workers with long-term job offers; and/or

• Tier 5 workers: Skilled temporary workers.

 

Types of Certificate of Sponsorship 

 
If a company is granted a sponsor licence, the company will be able to issue Certificates of Sponsorship to migrant non-EEA workers. There are two types of Certificate of Sponsorship:
 

• The unrestricted Certificate of Sponsorship; and 

• The restricted Certificate of Sponsorship.

 

Unrestricted Certificates of Sponsorship 

 
Unrestricted Certificates of Sponsorship are for new employees with a salary of more than £155,300 per annum.
 
When a company applies for a sponsor licence, it has to estimate how many Tier 2 certificates it will need. If the sponsor licence application is successful, the company is given a fixed number of allocations of unrestricted Certificates of Sponsorship per year.
 

Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship 

 
A restricted Certificate of Sponsorship is for new migrant non-EEA workers on a Tier 2 (General) Visa. The criteria is that they will be earning less than £155,300 per year.
 
The government currently places an annual restriction on the number of non-EEA migrant workers admitted to the UK on a Tier 2 (General) visa through a restricted Certificate of Sponsorship.
 
The restriction procedure works by UK Visas and Immigration considering all applications for restricted Certificates of Sponsorship each month. The requests for Certificate of Sponsorship that meet the point’s criteria are approved. If the allocation limit for restricted Certificates of Sponsorship is oversubscribed then applications are prioritised using a points table.
 
The available restricted Certificates of Sponsorship are allocated to companies based on the highest points scored. Points are given if:
 

• The job role is in a shortage occupation;

• The job role is a  PhD-level occupation;

• For the job salary.

 
The best London immigration solicitors advise that there is no guarantee as to when restricted Certificate of Sponsorship applications will be approved by UK Visas and Immigration. That can make the recruitment process difficult to manage. 
 
If a company is allocated a restricted Certificate of Sponsorship, the company has to allocate the Certificate of Sponsorship to its chosen recruit who then uses the unique Certificate of Sponsorship reference number to apply to UK Visas and Immigration for a Tier 2 (General) Visa. 
 
Frustratingly, for a company employer, if the company cannot recruit immediately then any restricted Certificates of Sponsorship that have not been assigned to an individual job applicant within three months will be automatically returned to UK Visas and Immigration for reallocation. Accordingly, a company human resources team need to get on with the recruitment process once allocated the restricted Certificate of Sponsorship. 
 

Why do UK Visas and Immigration reject sponsor licence applications?

 
It is vital that the Top London immigration solicitors know why UK Visas and Immigration refuse applications for Sponsor Licences to make sure that your company application does not encounter any hitches.
 
To understand why applications for Sponsor Licences are refused you have to know what the essential conditions to get a sponsor licence are. The essential conditions are: 
 

• The company asking for a sponsor licence has to be a genuine company that is registered and trading in the UK; and 

• No threat to Immigration control is posed; and 

• The company has staff to fulfil the key Immigration related roles as well as human resource systems in place to meet UK Visas and Immigration reporting and monitoring requirements.

 

A genuine trading company 

 
The best London immigration solicitors advise that a company does not need to be very large or making a massive profit to apply for a sponsor licence
 
A company does however need to be able to show that it is a genuine trading company. A relatively new start-up company may need to show more documents than a large established company but the new start up may have very real need to recruit highly skilled non-EEA migrant workers in technical roles. A company that does not have a long established trading record or good profitability in its company accounts may need to submit company bank statements to UK Visas and Immigration to establish that it is trading and has the financial capacity to employ the non-EEA migrant workers under a sponsor licence.  
 

Key staff in place for the sponsor licence 

 
The UK Visas and Immigration has to be satisfied that a company has key staff who can work with UK Visas and Immigration to operate the sponsor licence. The key staff have to be named on the sponsor licence application. 
 
Top London immigration solicitors say that it is crucial that the staff named are not only dependable and reliable but also likely to stay with the company. Although key personnel can be changed it is extra paperwork so it pays to find people to fulfil the role that will stay with the company.
 
The key staff required are:
 

• An authorised officer; and 

• A key contact; and 

• A Level 1 user.

 
In a small company, one person can fulfil all three roles. The authorised officer’s responsibility is to act on behalf of the company in relation to the sponsor licence and to authorise the key contact and Level 1 user to act on behalf of the company. 
 
The key contact is the main point of contact between UK Visas and Immigration and the company. The Level 1 user is the person who undertakes the day-to-day administration of the sponsorship management system.
 
UK Visas and Immigration will carry out checks on the named individuals to ascertain if they are fit and proper persons to hold the roles. It is therefore crucial that before submitting the sponsor licence application the key staff are chosen with care and that their performance is monitored to avoid the sponsor licence being revoked or downgraded.
 
The best London immigration solicitors advise that a company must have an Authorising Officer and at least one Level 1 user in position at all times. If a key member of staff leaves and the company does not appoint someone else in the role then UK Visas and Immigration can downgrade the licence or revoke the company sponsor licence.
 

Genuine Employment that meets the Tier 2 skill level and appropriate rates of pay

 
If the company has a need for migrant workers but the job roles do not meet the Tier 2 (General) Visa skill levels or rates of pay the UK Visas and Immigration will refuse the application or after an inspection might suspend , revoke or downgrade the sponsor licence . For example, if a company recruits for a biotech engineer but gets the worker to fill a different role (such as a management job) within the company UK Visas and Immigration could review the sponsor licence.
 

How can OTS Solicitors help? 

 
OTS Solicitors advise on all aspects of business immigration and have substantial expertise in applying for Sponsor Licences for employer companies and advising on the management of Sponsor Licences and the downgrading of Sponsor Licences.
 
The legal directory of leading UK lawyers, Legal 500, recognises OTS Solicitors expert advice on business immigration. The firm is ranked for business immigration services. In addition, OTS Solicitors has Law Society accredited solicitors status as trusted specialists in Immigration law.
 
For more information on Sponsor Licence applications or other aspect of business immigration law please call us on 0203 959 9123 to arrange an appointment to speak to one of our experienced London business immigration solicitors who will be happy to help.
 

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