Need a UK work permit sponsor? Make sure your employer has a sponsorship licence

The sponsorship licence is vital for
any employer acting as a UK
work permit sponsor

It's been 10 months since the introduction of the Employer Sponsorship Licence as part of the UK work permit sponsor process. Since November 2008, the UK Border Agency made it a requirement that every employer looking to bring in new non-EU migrant workers to the UK OR extend the work permit of current employees MUST have a valid and current employer sponsorship licence.

For more information on the application process, download the sponsorship licence information PDF or check the FAQ below.

How has the employer sponsorship licence changed since its introduction? 

While the licence and eligibility criteria have remained the same, I'm happy to report that processing times are much faster than expected, with current timeframes standing at 1 to 3 months (as opposed to the 6 months initially stated by the UK Border Agency).

How does a company qualify for an employer sponsorship licence? 

To qualify for a licence, organisations must complete an online application, making sure to provide all supporting documentation and meet the necessary evidentiary requirements. This MUST be supplied within ten days of the initial application.

Please note: Failure to submit all required documents could result in a company’s application being delayed and further costs being incurred. Following the receipt of these documents, the company will then be subject to a compliance visit from the UK Border Agency, who will verify whether or not to grant the licence. Companies will also be required to comply with the illegal working requirements. 

What are the illegal working requirements and how do they affect a UK work permit sponsor?

The illegal working requirements state that all non-EU employees are required to provide documentation that proves their right to work BEFORE being employed by a UK company, and copies of this information must also be retained by the employer.

Employers and UK work permit sponsors who fail to keep the requisite information on all non-EU employers can be served with penalty notices, unless the employee has valid and subsisting leave to be in the UK, and that leave does not restrict them from being employed by the company. 

What are the penalties for a UK work permit sponsor that does not have an employer sponsorship licence?

Companies without an employer sponsorship licence will be unable to bring in new non-EU migrant workers to the UK or extend the work permits of current employees. Any non-EU employees they hire will be considered illegal workers, with the maximum level of penalty being a fine of £10,000 per employee and up to two years imprisonment. 

The information package is a great first step for any employer looking to apply for an employer sponsorship licence, and explains the service that the UK Visa Bureau provides. We recommend that any UK employer of non-EU migrants read the document in full (as well as any supplementary information on employer sponsorship requirements on our website), and then complete a UK visa application.

- Marissa Murdock is the Casework Department Manager for the UK Visa Bureau. To contact the UK Visa Bureau, complete a UK visa application.