Becoming A Sponsor: How to Apply

Topics covered: Certificate of Sponsorship, health and care worker visa, Home Office/UK Visas and Immigration, sponsor, sponsorship, Sponsorship Management System, UKVI

I have previously written on what the health and care worker visa is and the basic requirements to be met by providers who wish to sponsor overseas employees.

In this next article of my series, I will guide you through the process of applying to become a sponsor with the Home Office/UK Visas and Immigration (“UKVI”) and the associated costs.

The Application

The process is fairly simple and straight forward. The application is completed online and should only take 20-30 minutes if all the necessary documents are in order.

There are two parts to the application – (1) the submission sheet, which sets out the basic information about your company as well as information on key personnel to fill the required roles to manage your sponsorship, and (2) the supporting documents, which will be discussed further below.

In essence, these documents will confirm that you, as a provider, are:

  • Based in the UK;
  • Hold appropriate planning permission or Lasting Power of Attorney (“LPA”) consent to run the type/class of business;
  • Proof you are registered with the appropriate body where required (i.e. The CQC).

Supporting Documents

You will also need to submit a total of four supporting documents from the four tables in ‘Appendix A: supporting documents for sponsor licence applications’ of the UKVI guidance for sponsors. Some of this will be a single document, while other information will consist of a combination of documents. The tables are categorised as follows:

  • Table 1 sets out limited circumstances where the minimum requirement of four supporting documents may not need to be met.
  • Table 2 sets out the documents you must send if you are a start-up (operating or trading for less than 18 months), franchise, or charity, or you are subject to regulation, inspection or monitoring.
  • Table 3 sets out the documents which are mandatory for the route, or routes, on which you are applying; and
  • Table 4 sets out other documents you can send if you still need to make your total number of documents.

In sum, providers will need to submit the following –

Cover Letter

This will need to set out why you are applying, the sector you operate in, your opening and operating hours, and an up to date hierarchy chart of company staff.

You will also need to tell the UKVI about the jobs you wish to fill and for which you intend to assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (“COS”), discussed further below. This will need to include a job title and occupation code, duties, where the job sits on the hierarchy chart referred to above, minimum salary you would guarantee if the job were vacant today, and skill, experience and qualifications required.

If you have already identified an employee to sponsor then you must provide evidence of how you identified them (i.e. if via recruitment then advertisements placed to recruit the job) and the details of person (i.e. full name, date of birth, nationality, current immigration status, current job title and duties, and three months of payslips if applicable).

Evidence or Registration with CQC (i.e. Table 2)

As most, if not all, providers will be registered with CQC, UKVI will want to see evidence that you are registered and, where relevant, see your last inspection report.

A Combination Of Documents From Tables 3 And 4 In Order To Make Up The Required Minimum

Evidence from Table 3 will need to be assessed on a case by case basis.

Evidence from table 4 can include:

  • Evidence of employer’s liability insurance cover for at least £5m from an authorised insurer;
  • Current financial report or audited annual report with the name of the accountant clearly shown. The accountant should be a member of an accredited accounting body;
  • Evidence of registration with HMRC as an employer to pay PAYE and NI;
  • Evidence of appropriate planning permission to operate type/class of business at trading address;
  • HMRC VAT registration confirming VAT registration number and ‘effective date of registration’ if business VAT taxable turnover is more than the ‘threshold’;
  • Latest corporate/business bank statement and/or a letter from your bank setting out the dealings it has had with you, including the nature and duration of its dealings; and
  • Proof of ownership or lease of your business premises. If you send a copy of your lease agreement, it must be signed by all parties concerned.

When submitting the documents, there are a few considerations to bear in mind so that the application is easy to read and process for the Home Office officials:

  • You can scan or take pictures of your submission sheet and supporting documents;
  • Make sure they are in PDF, JPEG or PNG format;
  • Have descriptive titles, with 25 or fewer characters; and
  • Make sure they are high enough quality to be read.

For your sponsor licence application to be valid, you must send the UKVI all of the documents within five working days of the date on which you submitted your online sponsor licence application.

If any mandatory items are missing or incorrect then the application will be invalid (rejected and fee refunded).

The UKVI may ask for additional documents and will give you five working days to send these in, otherwise your application will be refused and the fee not refunded.

Certificate of Sponsorship

One of the most important documents when sponsoring an overseas worker is the COS. This is the key document the worker needs in order to get their application approved with the Home Office.

The COS confirms:

  • That you are sponsoring a skilled worker;
  • The correct category of visa;
  • The workers personal information;
  • The start & end date of employment, weekly work hours (average figure), location of work, job title, how the worker was sourced, relevant occupation code, main duties of role, salary details, eligible occupation, professional registration details, PAYE Reference number; and
  • Any other additional relevant information required per the guidance.

The application will ask you to estimate the number of employees you wish to sponsor where this is yet to be determined. You will also need to assign a COS to any worker before they can apply for entry clearance. So, by way of example, if you already have an overseas worker employed under a different visa (i.e. dependent, graduate route, etc.) and you wish to sponsor them, you will need to assign them a COS prior to them making an application for their skilled worker (i.e. Health and Care Worker) visa.

Fees

Finally, upon submission of your application you will be required to pay a fee.

  • Your initial application for a sponsor licence;
  • Applying to renew an existing sponsor licence;
  • In some cases, applying to extend the scope of an existing licence (i.e. adding routes on which you can sponsor workers); and
  • Each COS you assign.

The amount of each fee will, in part, depend on the size of your organisation, the number of employees you will be sponsoring, the duration of the sponsorship.

Regarding the sponsor application itself, the fees are:

Type of License

Small or Charitable Sponsors

Medium or Large Sponsors

Worker (Only) £536 £1476
Temporary Worker (Only) £536 £536
Worker & Temporary Worker £536 £1476
Add a Worker licence to an existing Temporary Worker licence No Fee £940
Add a Temporary Worker licence to an existing Worker licence No Fee No Fee

You will usually be considered a small sponsor if at least two of the following apply:

  • Your annual turnover is £10.2 million or less;
  • Your total assets are worth £5.1 million or less; or
  • You have 50 employees or fewer.

You’re a charitable sponsor if you’re registered with the appropriate body, exempt, or excepted.

Regarding fees in respect of issuing COSs and the associated fees for maintaining the sponsorship:

  • You may have to pay an Immigration Skills Charge (“ISC”), which is £1000 for the first 12 months and £500 for each subsequent six-month period; and
  • Issuing a COS costs £239 for a worker and £25 for a temporary worker per COS.

These are costs which cannot be passed on to the worker you are sponsoring.

Assessment and Decision

All applications need to meet certain eligibility and suitability criteria set out in the guidance –

Eligibility
  • You must provide all the required documents set out in Appendix A; and
  • You must have an operating or trading presence in the UK.
Suitability

This will affect whether or not your license is revoked or your rating changed. The UKVI will look at criteria such as:

  • Having HR and recruitment systems in place to meet sponsorship duties;
  • Ability of the UKVI to conduct immediate and unannounced compliance checks;
  • Evidence which may suggest that you may be a threat to immigration control;
  • Evidence that you have engaged or are engaging in behaviour or actions that are not conducive to the public good; or
  • Evidence from a public body of your lack of compliance with their rules.

Depending on how the UKVI views the above, your application will be approved or rejected.

Most applications are decided on within eight weeks, but providers can pay an additional £500 to get a decision within 10 working days. This may be useful where there are time constraints for the employee you are sponsoring.

How Ridouts Can Help You Become a Sponsor

Ridouts themselves are an approved sponsor with the UKVI and are familiar with the process of becoming a sponsor and sponsoring an overseas worker.

We can assist providers with matters such as:

  • Keeping providers up to date on guidance to manage their sponsorship;
  • Assessing whether or not providers are eligible to become a sponsor; and
  • Assisting and guiding providers through the application process.

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor or would like more general advice on the requirements for sponsoring overseas workers, please contact us at info@ridout-law.com or call us on 020 7317 0340.

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