Pre-Licence Priority Service – Everything you need to know about this
More UK companies are sponsoring foreign nationals to come and work in the United Kingdom due to the ongoing labour crisis in the country. Businesses that previously relied on the domestic labour market or employees from the EU are discovering that they are unable to fill up the positions and are therefore recruiting more international candidates. This has led to a spike in the demand, that has disrupted the average processing timeframes for UK Sponsor Licences.
UK Businesses requesting to join the register of licenced sponsors, often for the first time, could use the pre-licence priority service. The list of organisations authorised to sponsor employees on the temporary worker or new worker routes is called the sponsor registration.
To combat the delay, employers might be able to opt for the pre-licence priority service, which will expedite the entire application process and help shorten the time between submitting an application for a Sponsor Licence and receiving approval for a migrant worker to enter or remain in the UK for employment. By doing this, UK firms who need to fill vacant jobs, but do not currently have Home Office clearance, can minimise any disturbance to their business.
What is the Pre-Licence Priority Service?
The pre-licence priority service, which was first introduced in November 2020, aims to speed up the processing of Sponsor Licence applications in response to the rise in the number of UK firms wishing to sponsor foreign employees after Brexit.
A fast-tracked decision on a Sponsor Licence application can be requested by UK-based businesses through the Home Office pre-licence priority service. However, it is important to note that the request’s approval is not guaranteed and the demand for this service is high.
Who is eligible to apply for a Pre-Licence Priority Service?
You need to have submitted an online application for a Sponsor Licence in order to be eligible for the pre-licence priority service. You must complete UKVI’s “Online Sponsor Application Registration” in order to submit a legitimate application. After registering, you may access the “Sponsor Application log in” page.
To authenticate your application, you must then finish the online form and provide a number of required supporting documentation within 5 working days. A submission document that has been signed by the Authorising Officer must also be included.
After the submission of the online application form, provided that the application meets the eligibility requirements, the Authorising Officer will receive an acknowledgement email from the Home Office together with further guidance as to how to submit a request for the pre-licence priority service.
Pre-Licence Priority Service – Processing time and fees
UK businesses that apply for a Sponsor Licence may anticipate a decision within 8 weeks under the standard processing period. Following the approval, the company can sponsor employees from overseas.
In accordance with the pre-licence priority service, valid requests that have successfully been paid for will typically be taken into account within 10 working days. The 10-working-day window will start when UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) receives the completed submission sheet, copies of all necessary records, and payment. This implies a potential reduction of up to 6 weeks in the total processing time between a Sponsor Licence application to UKVI and a Sponsor Licence approval.
You might not obtain a response within the intended turnaround time if the application is incomplete or more checks are needed. However, the UKVI will email the Authorising Officer listed in the application within this timeframe to let them know what has to be done next.
As per the Home Office guidelines, each pre-licence priority service request costs £500. This is in addition to the Sponsor Licence application fee.
It is important to note that if the application is refused or withdrawn after it has started to be considered, the application fees will not be refunded. If the application is rejected or if the Authorising Office fails to submit any requested information or documentation in response to a priority request, you will also not be entitled to a refund. You could be entitled to a refund if the consideration of the licence application is postponed for other reasons, such as a technical issue.
How can I request Pre-Licence Priority?
After the submission of the Sponsor Licence application, the Authorising Office will get an acknowledgement email confirming their eligibility to use the pre-licence priority service and a Priority Service – Email Request Form to be completed. Next, if the business wishes to apply for the enhanced services, the Authorising Office will then need to email UKVI at [email protected] the completed form.
The pre-licence priority service is available Monday to Friday, except on bank holidays, from 9 am to 5 pm. Outside of these hours, the Home Office will consider no requests. Each day, a maximum of 10 requests for priority services are accepted. If the request is approved, the Authorising Officer will receive two further emails:
- A confirmation email from the pre-licence priority service team confirming that the request has been approved.
- A further email with a Worldpay link (spam or junk folder should be checked regularly).
After receiving the second email, you have 72 hours (including weekends) to pay the relevant fee. Your pre-licence priority service request will expire if the payment is not done by then, and you’ll have to reapply to be taken into consideration.
Pre-licence priority service request might not be granted for the following reasons:
- The service is not appropriate for your request.
- The priority request was outside of the hours when the service is available.
- The Home Office has hit the daily allocation limit.
If you do not hear back from the Home Office within the day the request was submitted, your request was presumably unsuccessful, but a further request can be submitted the following day.
Contact A Y & J Solicitors for assistance
Experts in UK corporate immigration, A Y & J Solicitors have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to managing and applying for Sponsorship Licences. Your chances of getting approved for priority will also be greatly improved with the correct legal counsel and thorough advance planning. By doing this, you may minimise company interruption, which is especially important when trying to obtain foreign talent quickly. Contact us if you need expert advice.