If you have a business or are a religious or sports establishment or and wish to sponsor overseas migrants to work on a temporary or long term contract, you need to obtain sponsor license from the Home office (former UKVI). This is a permission from the Home office to the UK establishment allowing them to sponsor overseas migrants under the point based system.
The UK establishment needs to provide evidences of physical and trading existence of the business / religious establishment and are also required to maintain certain set of HR policies in order to make a successful application.
The Home office may also visit the business premises to see whether the documents provided truly reflect the nature and the extent of the business and whether the UK establishment has HR policies in place or not. If they are happy with all the paperwork and are satisfied with the HR policies and procedures, they can approve the application for a sponsor license.
Once approved, they can either give an A – rated license or a B – rated license.
A-Category: This is issued when the Home office finds everything in perfect order and place and are satisfied with the UK establishment’s HR policies and procedures. Once this is issued, the UK establishment can make application to sponsor overseas workers.
B-Category: This is issued when the Home office is generally satisfied that all the requirements are being met but has concerns about some minor issues. This is a temporary stage and the UK establishment is required to follow a certain plan of actions to upgrade to category A. The issuance of a B category license is generally followed by an approved plan of action for that particular UK establishment, that needs to be followed in order to be upgraded to A – category.
A sponsorship license does not mean that the UK establishment can start employing or recruiting the overseas migrants straight away. The license in fact makes the UK establishments eligible to apply for sponsorship certificates.
- Duration of License: The license is issued for a period of four years and it has to be renewed upon completion of four years, if the UK establishment continues to employ / recruit overseas workers.
- Duration of the Process: If all the process goes well, it takes an average time of about 3-4 weeks for the Home office to give their decision. However, if the Home office decides to visit the business premises, the time may extend to 6-10 weeks.
- Suspension of Sponsorship License Application: The Home office may often visit the business premises to check the company’s compliance with the requirements and if they find out any discrepancies in the records or are not satisfied with the HR procedures and policies, they may suspend the sponsorship license of the company. A suspension letter is issued and the company is generally given 20 working days to respond to any queries or concerns raised in the suspension letter. It is really important to seek legal help at this stage as it is often difficult to understand the legal jargon available on the Home office website relating to the rules and procedures of sponsorship license process. We have handled a number of such matters and have been able to get relief to our clients.
- Judicial Review: A refusal of sponsorship license application does not attract full rights of appeal and the applicant (i.e. UK establishment) has either to lodge a fresh application by addressing the issues raised by the UKBA or if dissatisfied with the decision may lodge Judicial review proceedings against the decision.
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