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On 1 December 2020, the Tier 2 sponsor licence route was replaced with the new Skilled Worker route. As well as being re-named, there are significant changes to the new system, generally for the better. However, one fundamental change which employers might not find so helpful, is that from 1 January 2021, employers will probably need a sponsor licence if they want to hire EU nationals that were not living in the UK by 1 January 2021.

When do I need a Skilled Worker sponsor licence?

You will need this licence if you want to employ an individual who is a non-EU national (unless they happen to have permission to live and work in the UK in some other capacity). You may need a licence to sponsor an EU national or the EU national’s family member. As a rule, if the EU national was living in the UK prior to 1 January 2021, then they will probably be eligible to register for status under the free EU Settlement Scheme. If they were not living in the UK prior to 1 January 2021, then you will probably need to sponsor them under a Skilled Worker licence.

Which roles can I sponsor under a Skilled Worker sponsor licence?

One of the helpful recent changes to the sponsorship system is to lower the minimum skill threshold at which jobs can be sponsored. This has opened up the number of jobs which are capable of being sponsored under a Skilled Worker sponsor licence.

In short, if the job is listed here then it is sufficiently skilled to be sponsored. However, you must also pay a minimum salary which varies according to job type and according to the individual you want to sponsor. This gets complicated but if you want to understand more then head over to our in-depth legal guide and check out Part A: Who can I sponsor?.

What is sponsor licence compliance?

When you apply for a sponsor licence, you agree to take on various duties and responsibilities relating to sponsorship. This is called sponsor licence ‘compliance’. You are likely to be ‘visited’ by the Home Office (in fact, the ‘visit’ is an inspection) to check that you are fulfilling your sponsor licence duties, or that you can fulfil them. You may be more or less likely to be visited, depending on the profile of your business.

You will need to have adequate HR systems in place, geared specifically towards sponsorship. You will need to aware of your ‘reporting duties’, i.e. when you have to inform the Home Office of changes to the business or the sponsored individual’s circumstances.

If you fail to convince the Home Office your organisation is ‘compliant’, then there are various sanctions you could face. If you are at the stage of applying for a licence, and you are deemed not to be compliant, then your application will be refused, and you will face a minimum six-month ban on reapplying for a licence. If you already hold a licence but are then found to be non-compliant then the Home Office could suspend and/or revoke your licence. If your licence is revoked then you must terminate any sponsored worker’s employment, immediately, and the individual affected will have their visa curtailed.

The Home Office take compliance very seriously, so we do too. You can find out more about sponsor licence compliance in our legal guide, see Part F: Sponsor licence compliance.

How do I apply for a sponsor licence?

Before you apply for a sponsor licence you should have identified who you can sponsor, or the likely roles you will sponsor. You must also be familiar with the compliance side of sponsorship and, where necessary, adapt your HR systems. You should also be clear on who within your organisation will be fulfilling key sponsor licence roles, known as Key Personnel.

Only then should you apply for a sponsor licence. To apply for a sponsor licence, you will need to gather various supporting documents, prepare a cover letter and complete an online application form. All documents must then be sent to the Home Office. For in-depth guidance around applying for a Skilled Worker sponsor licence, check out our 4-Step Guide to Applying for a Sponsor Licence, in our detailed guide.

Truth Legal – Sponsor Licence Experts

Truth Legal are experts in all areas of immigration and specialise in all matters around sponsorship.

If you want to apply to apply for a Skilled Worker sponsor licence, or have any other issue relating to your sponsor licence, contact us for a free consultation today.

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