How do you obtain an immigration sponsorship licence?

From 1 January 2021, EEA nationals arriving in the UK will be subject to the UK's new points-based immigration system. There will be a "one size fits all" approach for hiring EEA and non-EEA nationals from this date.

If you are not currently an approved sponsor but think that you are likely to need to sponsor skilled migrant workers from 1 January 2021, you will need to apply for a sponsorship licence. The detail below explains the timings for obtaining a sponsorship licence and why you should act now.

What do I need to do to start a sponsorship licence application?

When it comes to licence applications an applicant will need to register your personal details on the UKVI website before you can apply for a sponsor licence. You will need to enter your name and email address to register. You will be issued with a unique user ID to log onto the system and a password will be emailed to you separately.

How long does it take to complete the online sponsor licence application form?

The government website states 20 to 30 minutes, which is accurate, provided that you have prepared the information to input in advance. You shouldn't complete the online application until you have gathered your supporting documents, identified your key personnel and checked you have appropriate HR systems in place.

How long will it take to gather supporting documents for the licence application?

You should allow between 1 – 3 weeks, depending on the size of your business, its systems and whether you are prepared to submit original documents or need to obtain certified copies.

Can a lawyer submit the online licence application on our behalf?

No, a legal representative can help you to fill in the application, but they cannot submit the online application on your behalf.

What happens after I've submitted the online licence application?

A submission sheet will be generated, which should be printed straightaway. Your Authorising Officer will need to sign the declaration on the submission sheet.

The signed submission sheet must be sent with all of your supporting documents (which have previously been gathered) within 5 working days of the date you complete your online application.

How long will it take to receive the decision?

Regarding the application process, most applications are dealt with in less than 8 weeks but given that demand for a sponsorship licence is increasing, you should allow up to 12 weeks to receive a decision.

Can the UKVI visit our premises if we have a sponsorship licence?

Yes, the UKVI can make unannounced visits before and after your sponsor licence is granted.

It is worth nothing that you should be prepared for a UKVI visit at any time after your online application has been submitted. Most sponsors often receive one UKVI visit in every four-year period. However, due to the current limitations with COVID-19, visits may not be as frequent but record keeping will still be an essential responsibility for any sponsor.

Contact us for more information

Look out for the next topic in this sponsor licence series published later this month on the supporting documents you will need for your immigration sponsorship licence application.

For more details on applying for a sponsorship licence including key requirements and costs, please contact the team here at Foot Anstey.

We can help with information and guidance for sponsors on tier 1 and tier 2 sponsorships for skilled workers, and the other certificates of sponsorship, as well as help with sponsorship duties and sponsorship management. 

Key Contacts