Appendix A supports the full Home Office policy guidance on sponsoring a worker from outside the EEA. It lists the documents you must provide to support your application and evidence your organisation’s eligibility for a sponsor licence.

In most cases, you will need to provide at least four supporting documents from those cited in Appendix A. The documentary requirements do however vary greatly, based on the nature of your organisation, the type of sponsor licence you are applying for and the vacancies you are looking to fill.

In limited cases you may be exempt the documentation requirements, for example, if you are listed on the main market of the London stock exchange or are a recognised public body.

In other cases, additional, category-specific documents are required, for example, for a Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer you will need to submit audited accounts or an annual report showing the link between the UK and foreign organisations.

Any documentation required to validate your application will need to be submitted within five working days of the initial online application. Hard copy documents must be the originals, although in some cases the Home Office will accept certified copies. Photocopies will not be accepted.

Documents required under Appendix A

The minimum number of documents are to be made up from the list of mandatory documents based on the type of employer you are, and the list of mandatory documents based on the tier and category of licence you are applying for.

For example:

  • Businesses operating under 18 months will be subject to more extensive documentation requirements.
  • Food businesses must send evidence of registration or approval by food authority.
  • Franchises must submit their Franchise Agreement signed by both parties.

The Home Office tables detailing the documentation are extensive. Taking advice on your circumstances from experienced advisers will help to ensure you avoid issues or delays with your application.

What if I can’t provide the right documents from Appendix A for my Sponsor Licence Application?

In the event that you fail to provide the necessary documentation in support of your application for a sponsor licence, you risk your application being significantly delayed, or even completely denied.

The most common grounds for delays or refusal are linked to applications in which the supporting documentation has not been submitted within the permitted timescale, it is incomplete or out-of-date, or copy documents have not been correctly certified.

It is at the discretion of the Home Office to request additional documentation, where failure to comply with the documentary requirements first time round runs the risk of outright refusal.

Where a request is made for further documentation, you will be given seven days to submit these to the Home Office. Any failure to do so will almost certainly result in your application being denied, and your fee will be non-refundable.

What is the application process?

An application for a sponsor licence will need to be made online via the government web portal. You will also need to pay an application fee.

The online form is, in itself, relatively straightforward. It is seeking to establish the nature of your business and that you are a legitimate organisation.

In many cases you will also need to justify why you are unable to hire from the domestic workforce using what’s known as the “Resident Labour Market test”. As such, you may need to show that you have advertised any job you are offering where it does not appear on the “shortage occupation” list.

Additionally, as part of your sponsor licence application, you will need to provide key documentary evidence in support within a limited timescale (see below).

What are the criteria for a sponsor licence?

Tiers 2 and 5 of the points-based system are the primary immigration routes for employing skilled workers from outside the EEA and Switzerland.

When employing a skilled worker, a sponsor licence is required to show that:

  • A migrant will fill a genuine vacancy that cannot be filled by a suitably qualified or skilled settled worker, and
  • As the sponsoring employer, you agree to meet all of the duties and responsibilities associated with the grant of a sponsor licence.

In your application for a sponsor licence you must meet certain eligibility and suitability requirements, in particular, you must show that you are a genuine organisation operating lawfully in the UK.

You must also demonstrate the following:

  • Your organisation can offer a genuine vacancy that meets the category-specific skill level and minimum rates of pay. Each tier is each split into various categories, for example, Tier 2 General or Intra-Company Transfer, or Tier 5 Creative and Sporting, each with different criteria.
  • Your organisation has appropriate systems in place to meet your sponsorship duties and responsibilities. It is not uncommon for the Home Office to attend on site to inspect your HR systems either before or after granting a sponsor licence.
  • The key personnel named on your licence application are suitable to undertake the necessary sponsorship duties and do not present any threat to UK immigration control. The Home Office will consider any history of immigration violations or unspent criminal convictions for a relevant offence.

Are sponsored workers guaranteed entry?

If your application is successful you will be granted a sponsor licence for a period of four years. As a licensed sponsor you will be allowed to issue certificates of sponsorship for any foreign workers that you employ.

However, this does not in itself guarantee that any prospective workers will be given permission to enter or stay in the UK.

Each individual must still meet the necessary visa requirements to obtain entry clearance. They must also remain compliant with the conditions of their stay once they are in the UK.

Appendix A Sponsor Licence: What are my sponsor licence duties?

Having been granted a licence to sponsor a migrant worker, you will be given access to what’s known as the Sponsor Management System (SMS) run by the Home Office.

The SMS is an online tool that allows you to administer your day-to-day sponsor activities, such as assigning certificates of sponsorship.

It will also allow you to report any changes in the circumstances of an individual foreign worker. As a licensed sponsor you have a number of duties and responsibilities so as to ensure compliance with the immigration rules and prevent abuse of the system.

These duties include keeping accurate and up-to-date records of foreign nationals working for you, as well as monitoring and reporting certain migrant activities, such as non-attendance, non-compliance or disappearance.

Appendix A Sponsor Licence: Do I risk penalty if I fail to comply?

When you are granted sponsorship status, you will be placed on the register of sponsors and given an “A” licence rating.

In the event that you fail to comply with your duties as a sponsor, you are at risk of having your licence rating downgraded or, worse still, your licence can be suspended or revoked.

You are also required to carry out “right to work” checks on the individuals that you sponsor to ensure that they are legally entitled to work in the UK and to undertake the work in question.

If migrants are found to be working illegally in circumstances where you have failed to carry out the prescribed document checks, or are unable to prove this with reference to proper records, you are at risk of a civil penalty, or even criminal prosecution.

Do you have a question about Tier 2 visa sponsorship for your business?

The application process for a sponsor licence can be complex, not least collating the necessary documentation in support.

It is always best to seek advice from a specialist with experience in helping employers with Tier 2 and Tier 5 licence applications.

Your legal adviser can identify exactly what documentation is needed, and even manage the process on your behalf, helping you to avoid any unnecessary and costly delay or outright refusal.

DavidsonMorris are specialist UK immigration solicitors, working with UK employers to advise on all aspects of the Tier 2 visa sponsorship licence. It may be that there are other immigration options available to support your recruitment needs. We can assess your needs and make recommendations based on current routes.

If the Tier 2 sponsorship licence is the best way forward, we can guide you through the application process,  helping to compile a comprehensive application, and support with the ongoing managememt and compliance with your sponsor duties. For advice with your Tier 2 visa sponsor licence, contact us.