Sponsorship for Employers

Applying for a Sponsorship Licence

A sponsor licence is required to employ most types of workers who are not settled in the UK and do not otherwise have immigration permission to work in the UK. An employer must be authorised by the Home Office with a sponsor licence to be considered a ‘sponsor’.  Since 1 December 2020 and 1 January 2021, the skilled worker route has replaced the Tier 2 (General) route and EEA or Swiss nationals arriving in the UK must be sponsored to work.

An application must be made to the Home Office to become a sponsor. Under the UK’s points-based immigration system, the main routes for non-UK residents working in the UK are: Skilled worker visa (which has replaced the Tier 2 visa); The intra-company transfer visa; Tier 5 temporary worker visa

These visa routes require sponsorship by an employer who holds a sponsor licence. This is used to grant permission to an organisation to sponsor workers within its business by issuing a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) for the worker. The Home Office relies on the sponsorship scheme to prevent illegal working and misuse of the immigration system. Therefore, it is crucial that employers are advised by immigration experts who can support them throughout the process.

Hiring a Skilled Worker

Since 1 December 2020, the Skilled Worker route replaced the Tier 2 (General) route. A skilled worker must score 70 points to be eligible. This includes 50 points for mandatory or ‘non-tradable’ criteria, and 20 points for ‘tradeable’ criteria. Generally, this means that the worker must be sponsored, the job must be at the appropriate skill level, and they must have a qualifying English language skill or come from a majority English speaking country (such as Australia).

The tradeable points criteria awards 20 points which can be met by meeting the salary requirement. The relevant salary for your worker must meet the general threshold, this is currently £25,600 per year which is calculated on actual gross earnings, up to a maximum of 48 hours per week. In some cases, you can pay less than this if the worker scores tradeable points for attributes such as having a relevant PhD or being a new entrant.

There is also a ‘going rate’ for each occupation, the salary you pay the worker must meet or exceed this rate. In all cases, the hourly rate you pay your sponsored worker currently must be at least £10.10 per hour.

The prospective sponsored worker must have a job offer which meets the relevant criteria from an approved sponsor licence holder before a valid application to enter or stay in the UK as a Skilled Worker can be made. The sponsor will confirm this by assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to the worker. 

Managing your Sponsorship Licence

The responsibilities of the employer do not end at the initial stage of sponsoring a worker. There are ongoing duties of an employer to manage the sponsored worker and the sponsor licence. This is done using the Sponsorship Management System (SMS). A legal representative can be instructed as a Key Contact and Level 1 or 2 User for the sponsor licence, this can often assist an employer with compliance duties which could be essential in dealing with a sponsor compliance visit from the Home Office.

Right to Work Checks

Employers are under a duty to check that every employee has a right to work. This must be conducted before an employee commences work to ensure they are legally allowed to work. If an individual’s right to work is time limited, the employer must conduct a follow-up check shortly before it is due to come to an end. A statutory excuse is an employer’s defence against a civil penalty. This involves the employer doing one of the following:

  • a manual right to work check
  • a right to work check using IDVT via the services of an IDSP (from 6 April 2022)
  • a Home Office online right to work check

From 6 April 2022, employers can use Identity Document Validation Technology (IDVT) to complete the digital identity verification element of right to work checks for British and Irish citizens who hold a valid passport.

Challenging Civil Penalties for Employers

An employer may be liable for a civil penalty for employing a worker illegally.  The maximum penalty is £20,000 per illegal worker and it is a also a criminal offence to knowingly employer an illegal worker. This is a staged procedure, and it is critical that an employer is advised by a professional immigration lawyer from the outset. 

Get in touch

Get in contact with us today for a solution to all your immigration related problems. We are specialist immigration solicitors who can assist you with a range of applications. Contact us either by filling out our contact us page below, or you can telephone us and we will be able to offer you a suitable appointment. Either way where we are able to assist we can offer you a suitable appointment. We also offer legal advice and assistance through Legal Aid, therefore contact us to see if you are entitled for your case to be conducted via legal aid.

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