Does Your Business Need a Sponsor Licence? | Business Migration Advice

Under current UK legislation, if a UK employer wishes to:

  • Employ a non EEA National (without other valid leave)
  • Extend the stay of an existing work permit holder
  • Transfer an employee from an overseas branch to the UK
  • Change the role of an existing work permit holder within the organisation

then the employer must hold a Sponsor’s Licence.

A Certificate of Sponsorship can only be issued by employers who have a Sponsor’s Licence and who are registered. The application is an online process and when finally granted the licences are issued for a 4 year period. Obtaining a licence can take approximately 3 months and therefore forward planning by an employer facing one of the above scenarios is essential.

Having obtained a licence, there is still work for the employer to do. The sponsor must fulfil a number of duties which are specific and detailed and therefore good internal reporting and record keeping systems are essential.

In addition to a graded system and the potential threat of a removal of licences or downgrade, there are also a series of Civil Penalties for employers as well as a criminal offence, which carries a prison sentence of up to 2 years for breaching the terms of the licence. Careful management of the internal systems to ensure compliance is essential.

It is important to remember that it is necessary to justify the employment of an overseas Passport Image | Courtesy of www.123rf.comnational in addition to providing details of recruitment advertising for the post and an explanation regarding responses received from citizen applicants and why they were unsuitable. Checks can be carried out retrospectively and therefore retaining all data and information supporting the sponsor application, the initial compliance and on-going fulfilment of duties is key. Moving forward it is evident that there will be a heavily policed system of Immigration Control and the responsibilities upon an employer to meet the strict stipulated criteria governing this area will be paramount to maintaining an entitlement to employ overseas nationals. This should be incorporated into any internal risk assessments and audits.

If you are looking at employing an overseas national and want some personalised guidance, please contact me on 01604 828 282, or email me on and I’d be pleased to help. You can also follow me on Twitter or connect with me on LinkedIn.

About Sarah Canning

Head of the Litigation Department at Franklins which incorporates all aspects of Dispute Resolution Contractual, Property & Partnership/Director/Shareholder disputes. In her "spare" time Sarah is proud to be one of the Northamptonshire Ambassadors; an external member of the University of Northampton's Audit Committee; a board member of Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership (NEP); and the Chair of the IoD Northamptonshire Branch. Follow her on Twitter here: @SarahJCanning
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