Temporary Worker Sponsor Licence
To hire workers on a short-term basis from overseas, UK employers have to apply for a Temporary Worker Sponsor Licence.
We are specialists in Sponsor Licence applications.
Temporary Worker Sponsor Licence
Any UK business looking to recruit an overseas national under one of the Temporary Worker routes must first have in place a valid licence to sponsor this category of worker. Below we look closely at the rules and requirements relating to the Temporary Worker sponsor licence.
What is a Temporary Worker Sponsor Licence?
A Temporary Worker sponsor licence is the permission granted by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to enable the approved licence-holder to assign Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) to overseas nationals under one of a number of temporary routes. The Temporary Worker routes are to recruit workers on a short-term basis in a variety of different roles through various sectors, including the charitable, cultural and religious sectors. There are also four new business immigration routes, recently introduced under the Global Business Mobility (GBM) umbrella, to allow overseas businesses to establish a UK presence or transfer staff to the UK.
A worker applying for permission under any one of these Temporary Worker routes must have a sponsorship certificate for an eligible job role meeting certain route-specific requirements. The sponsor confirms this by assigning them a valid CoS. This is an electronic certificate with a unique reference number that can be used to submit their visa application to UKVI.
Who can be sponsored under a Temporary Worker Sponsor Licence?
An organisation can apply to UKVI to be a licensed sponsor for Temporary Workers in any one of the following categories:
- The Creative Worker route: for overseas nationals wanting to work in the creative industry in the UK, who can make a unique contribution to the UK’s rich cultural life, for example, as an entertainer or artist, for a period of up to 12 months (with the option to extend their stay in the UK up to 24 months if continuing to work for the same sponsor)
- The Charity Worker route: for voluntary workers wanting to undertake unpaid work for a recognised charitable organisation in the UK for a period of up to 12 months
- The Religious Worker route: for those wanting to support the activities of a religious institution in the UK, for example, by working in a UK-based religious order or filling a non-pastoral placement in the UK, for a period of up to 2 years
- The Government Authorised Exchange route: for those wanting to come to the UK for training or research through an approved exchange scheme, for a period of up to 2 years
The International Agreement route: for those providing a service in the UK covered under international law, such as employees of international organisations or a private servant in a diplomatic household, for a period of up to 2 years in most cases
- The Seasonal Worker route: for overseas nationals wanting to do seasonal work with an approved scheme operator in the UK’s horticulture sector, for a period of up to 6 months.
On 11 April 2022, a number of new GBM routes also opened, including:
- The Senior/Specialist Worker route: for senior managers and specialist employees being assigned to a UK business that’s linked to their employer overseas and who wish to undertake a temporary assignment in the UK.
- The Graduate Trainee route: for overseas nationals transferring to a UK branch of their overseas employer as part of a graduate training programme for a managerial or specialist role, replacing the provisions of the Intra-Company Graduate Trainee route
- The Service Supplier route: for service suppliers or independent professionals providing a contractual service for a UK business under a qualifying trade agreement, replacing the relevant provisions of the International Agreement route
- The UK Expansion Worker route: for overseas nationals being sent to the UK by an overseas business to set up a UK branch or subsidiary, replacing the provisions of the Representative of an Overseas Business route for sole representatives
- The Secondment Worker route: for those being transferred to the UK by their overseas employer to work for a UK business under a high-value contract, introducing a brand new business immigration route under the UK’s Immigration Rules.
What are the Temporary Worker sponsor licence requirements?
To be eligible for a Temporary Worker sponsor licence, there are a number of general eligibility and suitability requirements that must be met by the applicant organisation, together with various route-specific requirements, depending on the category of worker.
In most cases, the applicant must be able to satisfy UKVI, with reference to the information contained within its’ application and detailed supporting documentation, that it’s a genuine organisation operating lawfully in the UK. The one exception to this is the UK Expansion Worker route, where to sponsor overseas nationals to set up a UK branch or subsidiary, the overseas business must instead be able to show a UK ‘footprint’, for example, registration with Companies House. This is because, unlike other sponsored Temporary Worker routes, the UK Expansion Worker route can only be used if the business hasn’t yet started trading in the UK.
In all cases, the Home Office must also be satisfied that the applicant organisation is both trustworthy and capable of carrying out its’ sponsor duties.
UKVI will look at the history and background of the applicant organisation, together with the key personnel named on the licence application — those people nominated by the applicant to manage the sponsorship process and liaise with UKVI — and well as those involved with the day-to-day running of the business. This will include any evidence of previous non-compliance with the Immigration Rules, any criminal convictions, and any other evidence which may suggest that these people are not honest, dependable and reliable, or are engaging or have previously engaged in behaviour or actions that are not conducive to the public good.
The applicant organisation may also be subject to a pre-licence site visit by UKVI, typically where there’s insufficient evidence or concerns over the adequacy of its’ ability to comply with the various duties associated with being a licensed sponsor. This will be assessed with reference to the applicant’s recruitment practices and HR systems. UKVI must be satisfied that the applicant organisation will be able to monitor its’ migrant workforce, comply with its’ record-keeping and reporting obligations, and won’t pose a threat to immigration control.
In addition to the general requirements for a Temporary Worker sponsor licence, the applicant organisation must be able to meet the requirements of the relevant route. Under the GBM routes, for example, the applicant must be able to offer genuine employment meeting minimum skill and salary requirements, and show a qualifying overseas business link.
How to apply for a Temporary Worker Sponsor Licence
To apply for a Temporary Worker sponsor licence, details of the applicant organisation will first need to be registered with UKVI. In this way, the applicant can then complete an online application form and pay the licence fee. Prior to applying, however, the applicant organisation must ensure that the business is eligible for sponsorship under the relevant Temporary Worker route and have in place a number of detailed documents, as specified in Appendix A of the sponsor guidance and for the specific route in question.
As part of the application process, a number of individuals must be nominated to fill the key personnel roles: an Authorising Offer, a Key Contact and a Level 1 user. The Authorising Officer must be the most senior person within the applicant organisation responsible for recruiting migrant workers and ensuring that all sponsor duties are met. They will also be responsible for managing the sponsor licence application, and signing and dating the submission sheet at the end. The submission sheet, together with all documentation, must then be emailed or posted to UKVI within 5 working days of submitting the application.
The Key Contact will act as the main point of contact with UKVI, whilst the Level 1 user will be responsible for the day-to-day management of the sponsor licence using the Home Office sponsorship management system (SMS). If the application for a Temporary Worker licence is approved by UKVI, additional Level 1 users can be appointed, together with Level 2 users. A Level 2 user is an SMS user with more restricted system access than a Level 1 user.
The Authoring Officer can nominate themselves as a Level 1 user, and will need to do so if they also require access to the SMS. They can also act as the Key Contact. Alternatively, different people can undertake these roles, provided they’re paid members of staff or office holders, and meet the various other requirements under the rules for key personnel.
Having completed the online application, paid the fee and submitted all documentation, UKVI will then review the application. The standard processing time for Temporary Worker sponsor licence applications is usually less than 8 weeks, although it can take longer for UKVI to reach a decision if a site visit is needed or additional documentation is requested.
If the application is approved, the licence-holder will be able to issue CoS if it has jobs that are suitable for sponsorship under the route in question. The licence will last for an initial period of 4 years, unless revoked before then. The licence will need to be renewed prior to expiry of the 4 years if the organisation wishes to continue sponsoring Temporary Workers.
What is the cost of applying for a Temporary Worker sponsor licence?
The cost of applying for a Temporary Worker sponsor licence includes an application fee, together with a fee for issuing each CoS.
The licence application fee is £536, although if the applicant organisation is seeking both a Temporary Worker and Worker licence at the same time, the fee will depend on the size and status of the organisation. For small or charitable sponsors the fee will still be £536, increasing to £1476 for medium or large sponsors. However, no fee is payable to add a Temporary Worker licence to an existing Worker licence, regardless of size or status.
The organisation will be a small sponsor if at least two of the following apply:
- its annual turnover is £10.2 million or less
- its total assets are worth £5.1 million or less
- it has 50 employees or fewer.
The fee for assigning a CoS under a Temporary Worker sponsor licence is £21.
How should an organisation prepare for a sponsor licence application?
Preparation is absolutely key when making a sponsor licence application. This means ensuring that there are robust recruitment procedures and HR practices already in place prior to applying, carefully selecting key personnel to deal with the application and sponsorship process, and bringing together the correct documentation in support of the application.
The rules on sponsoring Temporary Workers are contained within a detailed Home Office sponsor guidance document: ‘Workers and Temporary Workers: Guidance for Sponsors’, together with various route-specific guides on how to sponsor workers on any one of the various Temporary Worker routes. However, there’s a considerable amount of information for applicants to digest to enable them to understand the rules and apply for a licence. By seeking professional advice from an immigration expert, prospective sponsors can minimise the stress involved and maximise the prospects of a successful outcome.
How we can help
DavidsonMorris’ business immigration specialists can support your organisation with all aspects of the UK sponsorship licence.
Wherever you are in the lifecycle of the sponsor licence – whether you are looking to apply for your first sponsor licence, wanting to renew an existing licence, have been refused a licence application or are looking for ongoing support with managing your compliance duties, we can help.
As a team of immigration lawyers and former Home Office personnel, we can work in support of your in-house HR team or take care of the entire licence application and management on your behalf, across all types of sponsorship licence.
Our sponsorship licence services include:
- Assisting with initial considerations as to the most appropriate type of sponsorship application and suitable key personnel
- Drafting your online sponsor licence application
- Helping you to collate the appropriate supporting documentation
- Auditing your HR and recruitment systems and procedures in preparation for a UKVI visit
- Briefing or training staff on their compliance duties and responsibilities
- Advising on the UKVI ‘genuineness’ test and assessing whether a prospective employee satisfies the points criteria before the sponsor issues a certificate of sponsorship
- Guidance on sponsorship-related fees, both for the application and ongoing
- Advice on assigning Certificates of Sponsorship to skilled visa workers
- Advising on the alternatives available to you if you decide not to make a sponsor licence application
- Licence renewal applications
- Dealing with sponsor licence suspensions and revocations
UK Temporary Worker Sponsor Licence FAQs
How long does it take to get sponsorship licence?
The standard processing time for sponsorship licence applications is usually less than 8 weeks, although it can take longer for UKVI to reach a decision if a pre-licence site visit is needed or additional documentation is requested.
What are the eligibility requirements for a sponsor licence?
There are various requirements that must be met to be eligible for a sponsor licence, for example, the sponsor must be able to offer genuine employment that meets the skill level and any salary requirements of the route in question.
Can I sponsor a skilled worker?
You can sponsor a skilled migrant worker, provided you’ve been approved by the Home office to sponsor this category of worker and can offer a suitably skilled and salaried job.
What is a sponsor licence?
A sponsor licence is permission from the Home Office to enable the approved licence-holder to assign Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) to overseas nationals. The CoS is an electronic certificate with a unique reference number needed for a visa application.