All employers who wish to recruit foreign national workers have been required to register for a Sponsorship Licence with the United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA). Registration is mandatory if you wish to be eligible to recruit from the foreign labor pool.
ICS Legal is fully qualified to manage all of your Points Based System employer licensing and sponsorship requirements. To find out how we can ensure the success of your organization’s application for sponsorship licensing and registration, please contact us.
Before an employer can sponsor a migrant worker a Sponsorship Licence must be approved in advance by the UKBA.
Under the point based system, only licensed sponsors will be eligible to issue potential migrant employees with a Certificate of Sponsorship. Migrants seeking to come to the UK will need to obtain entry clearance – a Certificate of Sponsorship issued by a licensed employer before an entry clearance application can be made. Furthermore, each potential migrant worker must also satisfy the points-based assessment criteria for the visa category under which they are applying.
Please note that a potential employee’s Certificate of Sponsorship does not in any way guarantee or secure their visa if the supporting documentation for an application cannot be verified independently.
How long is a sponsor’s license valid for?
Licenses are valid for four years, starting from the day it is issued or the day that applications start for the relevant tier of the points-based system, whichever is the later.
Sponsorship licensing requirements
For your organization to successfully apply for a license and be added to the register of sponsors you must prove that you meet the following criteria:
- you are a legitimate organization working within the law in the United Kingdom;
- there are no reasons to believe that you are a threat to immigration control; and
- your organization is committed to fulfilling its sponsorship duties.
When your application is approved you will be awarded an A-rating or a B-rating on the register.
As a licensed sponsor, you are required to notify the UKBA if migrant employees do not comply with their immigration conditions, and you must also comply with a number of other sponsorship duties or you will risk losing your license.
Licensing and sponsorship costs
Employers seeking a license and acceptance on the register of sponsors for the Tier 2 (general) skilled worker category will need to pay a fee of £310 (if you are a small sponsor) through to £1,025 for all other sponsors.
In addition to the licensing fee outlined above, each Tier 2 (General) – skilled worker certificate of sponsorship costs £175.
Under what circumstances will a license be withdrawn?
Circumstances in which a sponsor will normally have their license withdrawn include:
- If it ceases to trade or operate, whether as a result of insolvency or for any other reason
- It ceases to be accredited or registered with anybody that it needs to be accredited/registered with in order to obtain a license
- If the prospective sponsor or another appropriate agency is an undischarged bankrupt, or legally prohibited from becoming a Company Director.
- If the sponsor has provided forged, falsified documents or information to the UKBA
- If the sponsor does not have adequate facilities to cope with the increased staff and no evidence has been provided regarding expansions.
What penalties will apply for illegally employing migrant workers?
In line with the unveiling of the Points Based System, a new penalty system relating to the employment of illegal migrant workers will also be introduced. The new penalty regime consists of a civil penalty for employers who employ illegal migrant workers as a result of negligent recruitment and employment practices, and a criminal offense for those employers found to be knowingly employing migrant workers illegally. Each penalty carries a maximum two-year prison sentence and/or an unlimited fine.
Use of representatives for licensing and sponsorship
Sponsors can elect to use an immigration service provider to handle its PBS affairs with the UKBA, provided that the immigration service provider is registered with the OISC or Law Society.
Why ICS Legal For Sponsor Licence Application?
The immigration lawyers at ICS Legal are experts in dealing with an application to the Home Office for Tier 2, Tier 4 or Tier 5 Sponsorship Licence. The quality of our service is self-evident from the reviews of our clients about the service provided by our immigration lawyers. You can contact us if you are seeking legal help from immigration lawyers in London in relation to your application for Tier 2, Tier 4 or Tier 5 Sponsor Licence and our immigration solicitors will provide you fast, friendly, reliable and professional immigration service.
If instructed to represent you regarding your application for Tier 2, Tier 4 or Tier 5 sponsor license, we will do the following for you:
- Our immigration lawyers will take Detailed Instructions from you and advise you about the relevant immigration law and procedures to be adopted by the Home Office, UKBA in your application for sponsorship license;
- Our immigration lawyers will discuss your immigration case in detail with you and advise you about the weaknesses and strengths of your application for sponsorship license;
- Our immigration lawyers will advise you about the documentary evidence to be submitted in support of your application;
- Our immigration lawyers will consider contents of the documentary evidence to be submitted in support of your application and discuss the same with you;
- Our immigration lawyers will complete your sponsorship application online for you and discuss the same with you;
- Our immigration lawyers will send the original documents to the Home Office following the submission of the online application for sponsorship license within the specified time;
- Our immigration lawyers will liaise with the Home Office (UKBA) for expeditious decision on the sponsorship application;
- Our immigration lawyers will protect your interests while your application is pending with the Home Office (UK Border Agency) and keep you informed of the progress on your sponsorship license application;
- Our immigration lawyers will do all the follow-up work until decision is reached on your application;
- Our immigration lawyers will advise you about the implications of the Home Office decision.
How does PBS affect UK Employers?
- PBS has replaced the current UK work permit and other employment schemes.
- It directly affects the international transfer of employees to the UK, the local hire of non-EEA individuals in the UK and any applications to extend the immigration approval of current non-EEA employees whose presence in the UK is continuing.
- Any new immigration, employment applications that an employer wishes to sponsor will need to be submitted under Tier 2 of PBS.
Criteria of Tier 2
- The criteria to be met before an individual will be granted immigration permission under Tier 2 will be very similar to the current UK work permit scheme.
- Two new criteria are to be introduced – English language ability and a maintenance test.
The process of Tier 2
- Any UK employer wishing to sponsor a non-EEA national for employment must first be detailed on the Government Sponsorship Register by having applied for a Sponsorship Licence.
- Once a company has obtained its Sponsorship Licence, it will be the company (with the support of its legal representative) that issues the work permit (to be called the “Certificate of Sponsorship”) rather than the UK Government. To ensure that Registered Sponsors are issuing its certificates responsibly and correctly, the UK Government will carry out periodic post-issue checks, can conduct an annual audit of employers and has introduced new penalties for non-compliance.
- The current two-application process of work permit and visa/residence permit is now one visa/residence permit application process only. This has two impacts.
- The visa/residence permit application has become fundamental as the only application to be made.
- The vast majority of applications will be submitted to a British Diplomatic Post overseas and not to the Home Office in the UK. As such, more home country support may be required to ensure that the application is processed correctly and supported by the necessary original documentation.
Risks of non-compliance
Although PBS offers significant benefits in process and flexibility, the liberalization, which effectively allows employers and their legal representatives to issue their own work permits, is accompanied by new penalties for non-compliance to ensure that the system is not abused.
- New criminal penalties
- New civil penalties
- New automatic bans from entering the UK
- Downgrading from “A” to “B” rating and possible removal from the sponsorship register (accompanied with a requirement to dismiss all sponsored employees within 60 days).
Preparing for PBS – Key considerations
When reviewing an application for a sponsorship license, the UK Government will be checking to ensure that the applicant is an established and trading UK company. Additionally, the UK Government will also be assessing five individual areas of the sponsor’s HR systems to ensure that the company is able to meet its current obligations under UK legislation and future obligations under PBS.