If you’re looking to employ someone from overseas you will have to become a licensed sponsor if they are to get a visa. Until last year people from the EU were exempt, but with the UK leaving the EU many workers will need a visa.
Eligibility: To be eligible you must not have any unspent convictions for immigration offenses or certain crimes such as fraud or money laundering. You will also not be able to apply if you have had your sponsorship revoked in the last 12 months. You will also need systems in place to monitor sponsored employees.
Types of license: There are several types of license depending on the type of worker you’re employing. These include skilled worker visas, health and care worker visas, intra company workers, minister of religion workers or sports people workers. A temporary worker visa allows you to sponsor people who are coming for a short period of time.
You will have to appoint someone within your business to manage the sponsorships. There are three distinct roles.
- 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 using the SMS
These roles can be filled by one person or several.
You and your relevant staff member will have to undergo suitability checks to make sure you do not have any unspent criminal convictions, fines or working for an employer who has had its license revoked in the past 12 months.
There are two ratings. A is the main level and allows you to issue new licenses. However, if you do not fulfil your sponsorship obligations you may be downgraded to B status. This means you can continue to extend licenses to people you employ but will not be able to issue new ones.
If you are downgraded to B you will be issued with an action plan you have to follow before being upgraded back up to A.
You can only have two B licenses during your four years. You’ll lose your license if you do not make the right adjustments for your second action plan.
Immigration skills charge
You may have to pay an additional charge when you assign a certificate of sponsorship to someone applying for a skilled worker visa or intra company visa. This will kick in if they are applying from outside the UK to work for six months or more or inside the UK for any length of time.
You will be responsible for making sure the worker has the matches the requirements for the specific visa and that the work is appropriate. You will also have to monitor them while they are in the UK and inform the authorities if they break any of the conditions.
If you fail to meet these responsibilities you may have your license downgraded.
If there are significant changes to your circumstances such as if you stop trading, are involved in a merger or take over or change the nature of your business, you must inform the authorities within 20 days.
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If you’d like more information, our team of expert immigration lawyers or immigration solicitors can help.