5 Common Mistakes Every Employer Makes When Applying for a Sponsor Licence
Obtaining a Sponsor Licence can be the key to a competitive business edge. It affords employers the opportunity to hire skilled Non-EEA workers for critical positions in the company and can ensure the rapid growth and development of your company.
In certain industries, the ability to recruit talent from all over the world, is crucial, especially as the UK prepares to leave the European Union. Sectors such as tech, finance, science (especially in the STEM areas), agriculture, construction and hospitality may find it essential to have a Sponsor Licence to hire skilled employees over the next few years.
Unfortunately, simply applying for a Sponsor Licence does not mean you will be approved for one. If being refused a Sponsor Licence means you’ve lost the application fees and used up valuable time. Watch out for these common mistakes employers make when applying Sponsor Licence and you’ll be better set for a successful application.
1. Failing the Genuineness Test
In April 2015 the government added the Genuineness Test as a new requirement for Sponsor Licence applications. This test is an evaluation of why you want a Sponsor Licence, and whether your reason is valid. To pass this requirement, you must show in your application that:
- You have an important skilled vacancy to fill (or you will have such a vacancy in the future).
- The role is a legitimate and listed within the skilled occupation list in the Standard Occupation Codes.
- If you have someone you’ve identified for the vacancy, they will be filling it in the same manner as a local worker and will be paid an appropriate salary as per the Standard Occupation Codes.
- You have the knowledge and ability to conduct and/or be compliant with the Resident Labour Market Tests (RLMT).
2. Missing Documents
This is a very common mistake, but one that can be easily fixed. Take care to ensure that all required documentation is included in full before sending off your application.
You need to provide at least four supporting documents unless you are a:
- public body recognised by the UK government (such as a local authority), or a;
- the company listed on the London Stock Exchange Main Market
Examples of supporting documents that must be sent include (this list is by no means exhaustive):
- if you are a franchise, you will need to send a copy of your Franchise Agreement
- start-ups (defined as a business which has been trading for less than 18 months) need to include evidence of their corporate bank account and a certificate of VAT registration
- if you are sponsoring a worker via a Tier 2 (Intra—company transfer), you need to provide an affidavit signed by a senior partner/executive within the UK entity, identifying all of the connected entities both in the UK and overseas
An immigration solicitor with expertise in Sponsor Licence applications can review your application for you, and make sure that it is complete before submission.
3. Not Prepared for the Compliance Visit
Every Sponsor Licence applicant should be prepared for a visit from a Home Office compliance officer at their place of business. The Compliance Officer will check if the visit was to take place, that:
- The business is a legitimate operation
- The HR department is set up to conduct Right to Work checks before hiring workers, track and record sponsored employee’s attendance and contact details, and follow all Home Office rules for being a Tier 2 sponsor
- There are no illegal workers at the site
- The potential sponsor has appropriate reporting and recordkeeping policy/procedure in place
Since these are items that sponsors will always have to maintain, it’s a good idea to have thorough plans for compliance. Should the officer find that your business cannot achieve compliance (especially in the case of illegal workers), it may also impact any chance of acquiring a Sponsor Licence in the future.
4. Poor choice of support staff
In your application, you are required to list the people who will be authorised to have access to the SMS system (this is the online reporting system that is used for most Sponsor Licence reporting). These people must be:
- Of good character, without criminal records
- Legitimate employees of the company
Carefully choose people whom you expect to remain in the company for some time, and you know to be quality candidates.
It is possible to make your immigration solicitor one of your Key Personnel. This means they can take over some of the responsibility of filling in your Sponsor Management System (SMS). By making your immigration solicitor one of your Key Personnel, you can be assured of being up-to-date with any changes to immigration law and Home Office guidance. It is also very easy and very much possible for internal staff members to forget to fill in the SMS if they become extremely busy with other duties. This can cause major problems if immigration officials pay an unannounced visit to your organisation. By having your immigration solicitor manage the SMS, you can have the confidence that when you alert them of any changes, they will promptly register the required details in the SMS.
5. Thinking of the application as the end of the process
The application is just the beginning. All Sponsor Licence holders are mandated by the government to remain in full compliance with every rule and requirement. Failure to do so often has a devastating impact on companies. For example, your Sponsor Licence could be downgraded from an A-rating to a B-rating, suspended or even revoked. If this happens, you will be unable to recruit any more non-EEA sponsored talent. Revocation could result in any employees on a Tier 2 visa having to return home unless they are able to find another employer to sponsor them.
It is therefore imperative to set up your HR systems to ensure full, ongoing compliance with Sponsor Licence duties and responsibilities. If you are visited by UKVI officials prior to your licence being granted, they will be checking to see if your HR policies and procedures are robust enough to ensure unending compliance.
Why instruct A Y & J Solicitors to assist you with obtaining a Sponsor Licence?
A Y & J Solicitors are experts in all areas of Sponsor Licences. We have a proven track record of successful applications, compliance training and audit preparation, and conducting appeals and Judicial Reviews on behalf of clients who have had their licence suspended or revoked. For help with any area of sponsorship, please contact us today on +44 20 7404 7933 or email us at [email protected].
Disclaimer: No material/information provided on this website should be construed as legal advice. Readers should seek an appropriate professional advice for their immigration matters.