|Licence Under TIER 2, Tier 4 & Tier 5|
Any employer who wishes to employ an overseas national, from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), is required to ‘sponsor’ them under Tier 2 of the Points Based System and must therefore obtain a sponsor licence from the Home Office.
Any education provider that wishes to enrol an overseas student from outside the EEA is required to ‘sponsor’ them under Tier 4 of the Points Based System and must also obtain a sponsor licence from the Home Office.
There are various requirements for various types of establishment that need to be fulfilled before a sponsor licence will be granted by the Home Office.
Who can apply for the licence?
Any establishment in the UK can make an application, if they are considering sponsoring overseas nationals to work in the UK (TIER 2) or if they wish to become a sponsor for Temporary workers (TIER 5) or if they wish to enrol students in their educational establishments (Tier 4).
In order to become a licensed sponsor the establishment concerned must be a genuine organisation or sole trader operating legally in the UK. In respect of employers, there is no requirement of a minimum turnover or number of staff. There must be no evidence that the organisation is a threat to immigration control – the Home Office will look at the history and background of the organisation and its key personnel. The organisation must nominate a ‘level 1 user’, a ‘level 2 user’, a ‘key contact’ and an ‘authorising officer’ to operate the sponsorship management system. The organisation must be able to comply with its sponsor duties by showing the necessary human resources systems are in place. All the required supporting documents must be submitted with the application and the organisation must meet the additional requirements for the tier and category they are applying under.
A prospective sponsor applying for a licence needs to pay a fee to the Home Office for considering its application. If registering as a Tier 2 sponsor only for the first time, the fees are £1545 for medium or large establishments and £515 for small sponsors or sponsors with charitable status. (A small sponsor is one that that qualifies as a small company in accordance with the Companies Act 2006.)
If a sponsor already has a licence and is applying to add more tiers to its licence the fees are considerably less (and nil in a lot of cases).
Procedure after submitting the application
Prospective sponsors make an application for a licence by registering online on the Home Office website and filling out the online application. The applicant sponsor must then print off the submission sheet and send it to the Home Office with the fee and the required original supporting documents. This can only be done by a person authorised to make this application as legal representatives cannot make this application on behalf of prospective sponsors.
The Home Office will consider the application under the specified criteria, making any necessary checks, and consider whether they need to visit the business premises of the applicant or require further documentary evidence before making their decision.
Once the Home Office approves the application, a sponsor licence will be issued to the establishment giving them an A or B rating. If the application is refused there is no right of appeal but the prospective sponsor can reapply at any time. The licence will be valid for 4 years and the establishment must renew the licence if they wish to continue to be a sponsor.
Once a license is issued with an A rating, a sponsor will then be able to issue Certificates of Sponsorship/Confirmations of Acceptance for Studies to its prospective employees or students respectively who will then need to use the certificate to obtain leave to remain or entry clearance in line with the certificate.
Persons Involved in the Sponsorship Process
A prospective sponsor must allocate responsibilities to ‘key personnel’ in its staff in the following four roles: authorising office; level 1 user; level 2 user and key contact. These roles can be filled by the same person or by different staff members.
Certificate of Sponsorship/ Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)
These are virtual documents with a unique reference number rather than a paper certificate or a document, issued by registered sponsors. They will be issued by the sponsor once the relevant requirements are complied with. The migrant needs to provide the reference number in their application for leave to enter or remain.
A Certificate of Sponsorship is assigned by Tier 2 sponsors, i.e. employers. It is valid for three months and if the prospective employee does not use the certificate, it will automatically become invalid and the sponsor will need to re-issue the certificate.
A Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) is assigned by Tier 4 sponsors, i.e. education providers. It is valid for six months and if the prospective student does not use the CAS, it will automatically become invalid and the sponsor will need to re-issue the CAS.
Resident Labour Market Test
Subject to the exceptions set out below, if a registered employer want to sponsor a migrant from outside the EEA the employer will have to conduct a Resident Labour Market Test and show that no suitable qualified resident worker can fill the job. In order to conduct the Resident Labour Market Test the sponsor will have to properly advertise the position for a minimum of 28 calendar days in Jobcentre Plus (with certain limited exceptions) and by using one other method stated in the relevant codes of practice (unless there is no code of practice for the job). There are certain requirements in respect of the advertisements which have to be met.
The employer does not need to undertake a Resident Labour Market Test if:
Once the Resident Labour Market Test has been completed and no suitable resident worker found, the sponsor is free to offer the job to the migrant worker and assign a Certificate of Sponsorship, subject to the other Tier 2 requirements.
We can advise and represent our clients throughout this procedure.
What services we can offer?
We can advise on the procedure for applying for a sponsor licence
Whatever the case, we are here to assist, advise and represent our clients in relation to obtaining the licence, maintaining the licence, upgrading the licence and also in relation to the immigration matters of its existing or prospective workers.
For further information and free assessment please contact us.