How do i apply for a skilled worker sponsorship licence and sponsor a migrant worker?
As an employer, if you want to employ people from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) you should apply for sponsor licence also know as Tier 2 sponsor licence.
Tier 2 of the points-based system is the primary immigration routes for Non-European Economic Area (EEA) migrants who wish to work in the UK. The migrant worker must be sponsored by an organisation that holds a Tier 2 licence. A licence is a permission given to an organisation from the Home Office to sponsor workers in its business. The organisation is known as a sponsor.
When a sponsor is granted a Tier 2 licence, significant trust is placed in them. With this trust comes a direct responsibility to act in accordance with the Immigration Rules and Regulations, and with wider UK law (employment law etc.)
What is “resident labout market test” or RLMT?
In most cases, the process begins when an employer is unable to find a suitable worker already living permanently in the UK. You may need to advertise the job you’re offering if it’s not on the shortage occupation list. This is known as carrying out the ‘resident labour market test’ or RMLT.
You must advertise any job you offer to a worker in the following categories:
• Skilled Worker (General)
• Tier 2 (Minister of Religion)
You must place at least 2 adverts. Follow the rules in the ‘How to carry out the resident labour market test’ section of the guidance for sponsors.
The adverts make sure that there are no suitable workers already living permanently in the UK. It must be a genuine vacancy.
How long to advertise the job for?
The organisation/company must advertise in the UK for at least 28 days. This can be continuous or in 2 stages.
If you advertise in 2 stages, the total time of advertising must be at least 28 days. Neither stage can be less than 7 days.
You must be able to show that you did not find a suitable worker in the UK.
What are the types of sponsor licence?
The licence you need depends on whether the workers you want to fill your jobs are:
• Tier 2 - skilled workers with long-term job offers
• Tier 5 - skilled temporary workers
You can apply for a licence covering either tier or both depending on the requirement of the organisation.
Skilled Worker Visa
Tier 2 is for skilled workers who you want to employ long-term or permanently. It’s split into 4 sub catgories:
• 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
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 Authorised 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
How to apply for your sponsor licence?
You can Apply online for your licence.
Print out the submission sheet at the end of the application - you need to post it to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) with the correct supporting documents. List of the supporting documents are available on Sponsor Guidance.
Sponsor casework operations
Sponsor applications team
UK Visas and Immigration
PO Box 3468
Most applications (8 out of 10) are dealt with in less than 8 weeks. UKVI may need to visit your business.
What is sponsorship certificate (Cos)?
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.
What is Unrestricted certificate?
When you apply for your licence you’ll be asked to estimate how many Tier 2 and Tier 5 certificates you’ll need.
These are called unrestricted certificates because you can get as many as your business needs. You’ll need to give evidence that you need the amount of certificates that you’ve asked for.
What is restricted certificate?
These are for:
• Tier 2 (General) workers currently abroad who’ll be paid less than £159,600 a year and are not in an inward investment post
• family members (dependants) of Tier 4 migrants who are switching to a Tier 2 visa
You must apply for restricted certificates for these workers through the sponsorship management system (SMS). You’ll get access to this when you get your licence.
There’s a limited number of restricted certificates available each month. Each application is assessed using a points system - you can see how the system works in the Immigration Rules appendix A.
Does my company have to pay Immigration skills charge?
You might have to pay an additional charge for each foreign worker you employ. This is called the ‘immigration skills charge’.
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.
What are the responsibilities of a sponsor?
• 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 licence 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.
How do I monitoring employees?
You must have HR systems or Immigration Compliance System in place that let you:
• monitor your employees’ immigration status
• keep copies of relevant documents for each employee, including passport and right to work information
• track and record employees’ attendance
• keep employee contact details up to date
• report to UKVI if there is a problem, for example if your employee stops coming to work
How should I report any changes to my business?
You must report any significant changes in your own circumstances within 20 working days, for example if you:
• stop trading or become insolvent
• substantially change the nature of your business
• are involved in a merger or take-over
You must also tell UKVI if you’re changing your details, like your address or allocated roles.
To register a change of circumstances use the sponsorship management system (SMS).
Requests can take up to 18 weeks. You can register a change within 5 working days instead if you use the priority service. It costs £200.
What are the penalties for employing illegal worker?
You can be sent to jail for 5 years and pay an unlimited fine if you’re found guilty of employing someone who you knew or had ‘reasonable cause to believe’ did not have the right to work in the UK.
This includes, for example, if you had any reason to believe that:
• they did not have leave (permission) to enter or remain in the UK
• their leave had expired
• they were not allowed to do certain types of work
• their papers were incorrect or false
Check your employees properly
You can also be penalised if you employ someone who does not have the right to work and you did not do the correct checks, or you did not do them properly.
If this happens, you might get a ‘referral notice’ to let you know your case is being considered and that you might have to pay a civil penalty (fine) of up to £20,000 for each illegal worker.
You’ll be sent a ‘civil penalty notice’ if you’re found liable and you’ll have 28 days to respond.
The notice will tell you how to pay, what to do next, and how to object to the decision.
Your business’s details may be published by Immigration Enforcement as a warning to other businesses not to employ illegal workers.
Read more about illegal working penalties.
Disclaimer: This guide provides basic information to help you become generally familiar with the rules and procedures. For more information, or the law and regulations, please visit the Home Office website . Immigration law can be complex, and it is impossible to describe every aspect of every process. You may wish to be represented by a solicitor or by a non-profit agency accredited by the SRA or OISC. Complygate is compliance management software, it only provides information and not advice. This website does not constitute legal advice and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel.