HR Outsourcing: UK Visa Sponsorship for Employers

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You might need a sponsor license to employ someone from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland to work for you in the UK.

Undoubtedly, it’s always a tough question for companies to apply a working visa for foreign employees everywhere. A valid working permission is required no matter the employee is on a short-term or long-term contract.

NNRoad’s Employment Outsourcing solution will allow you to hire employees in the United Kingdom (UK), even if you do not have a legal entity in the UK. Using PEO/EOR service in locations where you do not have a legal presence allows you to expand your business quickly and efficiently.

Keep reading to learn more about applying sponsor license in United Kingdom.

Step 1: How to get a sponsor license in UK?

  1. Check your business is eligible.
  2. Choose the type of license you want to apply for – this will depend on what type of worker you want to sponsor.
  3. Decide who will manage sponsorship within your business.
  4. Apply online and pay the fee.

Step 2: After you apply for the sponsorship…

You’ll be given a license rating if your application is successful. Moreover, you’ll be able to issue certificates of sponsorship if you have jobs that are suitable for sponsorship. The license will be valid for 4 years. However, you may lose your license if you do not meet your responsibilities as a sponsor.

Step 3: Detail Requirements and Information Employers need to know beforehand

1. Eligibility

To get a license, you cannot have:

  • unspent criminal convictions for immigration offenses or certain other crimes, such as fraud or money laundering
  • any history of failing to carry out your sponsorship duties

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) will review your application form and supporting documents. They may visit your business to make sure you’re trustworthy and capable of carrying out your duties.

2. Types of license

The license you need depends on whether the workers you want to fill your jobs are:

A. Tier 2 – skilled workers with long-term job offers

Tier 2 is for skilled workers who you want to employ long-term or permanently. It’s split into:

  • General – the role must meet the job suitability requirements
  • Intra-Company Transfer – for multinational companies which need to transfer employees to the UK
  • Minister of Religion – for people coming to work for a religious organisation (for up to 3 years)
  • Sportsperson – for elite sportspeople and coaches who will be based in the UK

B. Tier 5 – skilled temporary workers

Tier 5 is for skilled workers you want to employ on a temporary basis.

It’s split into:

  • Creative and Sporting – to work as a sportsperson (up to 1 year), entertainer or artist (up to 2 years)
  • Charity Worker – for unpaid workers (up to 1 year)
  • Religious Worker – for those doing preaching, pastoral and non-pastoral work (2 years)
  • Government Authorized Exchange – work experience (1 year), research projects or training, for example practical medical or scientific training (2 years) to enable a short-term exchange of knowledge
  • International Agreement – where the worker is coming to do a job which is covered by international law, for example employees of overseas governments

* You can apply for a license covering either tier or both.

3. Sponsorship management roles

You need to appoint people within your business to manage the sponsorship process when you apply for a license. The main tool they’ll use is the sponsorship management system (SMS).

The roles are:

  • authorizing 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 license using the SMS

These roles can be filled by the same person or different people.

You can also appoint an optional level 2 user once you have your license. This is an SMS user with more restricted access than a level 1 user, for example they cannot withdraw a certificate of sponsorship.

4. Apply for your license

You need to send the correct supporting documents to prove that you’re a genuine business.

You need to provide at least 4 documents – unless:

  • you’re a public body recognized by the UK government, for example a local authority
  • you’re a company listed on the London Stock Exchange Main Market

*The documents must be the originals or certified copies.

5. Your license rating

 You’ll get an A-rated license if your application is approved. Your A-rated license may be downgraded to a B-rating at a later stage if you do not continue to meet your sponsor duties.

If this happens, you will not be able to issue new certificates of sponsorship until you’ve made improvements and upgraded back to an A-rating. You need to follow an ‘action plan’ provided by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to upgrade your license.

*You have to pay £1,476 for an action plan.

6. Sponsorship certificates

You must assign a certificate of sponsorship to each foreign worker you employ. This is an electronic record, not a physical document. Each certificate has its own number which a worker can use to apply for a visa.

*Certificates must be used within 3 months from when they’re assigned.

7. Immigration skills charge

 You might have to pay an additional charge for each foreign worker you employ. This is called the ‘immigration skills charge’.

a. You must pay this if they’re applying for a visa to work in the UK for 6 months or more under either a:

  • Tier 2 (General) visa
  • Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) visa

If the worker has applied for their visa from within the UK, you must pay the charge even if they’re applying for less than 6 months.

b. When you do not need to pay

You will not pay the immigration skills charge if the worker you’re sponsoring:

  • has a Tier 4 (Student) visa and is switching to a Tier 2 (General) visa
  • has a Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Graduate Trainee visa
  • will do a job with a PhD-level standard occupational classification (SOC) code

You will not need to pay the charge for any of the worker’s dependants, for example their partner or child.

8. Your responsibilities

 You must:

  • check that your foreign workers have the necessary skills, qualifications or professional accreditations to do their jobs, and keep copies of documents showing this
  • only assign certificates of sponsorship to workers when the job is suitable for sponsorship
  • tell UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) if your sponsored workers are not complying with the conditions of their visa

Your license may be downgraded, suspended or withdrawn if you do not meet them.

Read the full guidance on sponsor requirements and duties and check workers have the right to work in the UK.

NNRoad’s PEO service in the United Kingdom includes: monthly payroll management, employer statutory benefits administration, individual income tax compliance, medical insurance, expenses management, and visa application (if employees are foreigners).

NNRoad becomes your in-country employer of record for dispatched employees in the United Kingdom. You will still be responsible for the management of your employees.

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