Service for Education providers Free Consultation
Subscribe to our monthly update
Name* Company* Email* Phone
*Required field
Migfunder

BQU

ukws

FAQ menu | Employers' FAQs | Employees' FAQs

Employers

  1. Do I need a licence?
  2. What about European nationals?
  3. How do I apply to become a licensed sponsor?
  4. What does it cost?
  5. What will they ask me?
  6. What else do I need?
  7. Can I apply under other categories at the same time?
  8. I have a number of branches within the same group. Should I apply for a licence for the individual branches or as a group?
  9. Will the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) visit me?
  10. What happens during a visit by the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)?
  11. What happens if I am “B” rated?
  12. Will the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) visit me again in the future?
  13. What responsibilities do I have as a licensed sponsor?
  14. I am a licensed sponsor. What is the process for recruiting a non-EEA national ?
  15. What about the advertisement itself?
  16. What is the significance of the shortage occupation list?
  17. What records do I need to keep?
  18. How do I issue a certificate of sponsorship?
  19. Will there be a limit on the number of Certificates of Sponsorship I can assign?
  20. How do I work out how many Certificates of Sponsorship to apply for?
  21. Can I apply for an additional allocation if I run out?
  22. Can a colleague issue a Certificate of Sponsorship on my behalf?
  23. What is the validity of a Certificate of Sponsorship?
  24. What documents do I need to see when I take on an employee?
  25. What checks do I need to make of the documents?
  26. What records do I need to keep?
  27. Do I have to make any further checks?
  28. What about existing employees?

1. Do I need a licence?

You need to be licensed by the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) if you wish to employ a non-EEA national who requires permission to work. You do not need to be licensed by the UKVI to employ UK, EEA or Swiss nationals but special arrangements apply to the employment of countries that have joined the EU since 2004.

2. What about European nationals?

You can employ nationals from any of the following European Economic Area (EEA) countries  without requiring any further permission: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece,  Iceland, Irish Republic, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, UK.  You can also employ Swiss nationals.
You can employ nationals from the following 8 Accession countries (referred to as the A8 countries): Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia.  Nationals of these countries are required to register with the UKBA within one month of starting work. You should give the employee a letter on company paper confirming the date on which he/she began working for you which he/she can use to apply for registration. You can employ someone during the first month and if he/she has applied for registration, you can continue employing him/her until the UK Visas and Immigration make a decision on their application. There are exemptions to the requirements to register. In particular, once a person has been working in the UK for 12 months without a break in employment, they no longer have to register. Again you should seek evidence of this. Further information on who needs to register is here.
Unlike the A8 countries, nationals of Bulgaria and Romania (the so-called A2 countries) require authorization from the UKVI before they start work for you. This will be granted in the form of a yellow card which will set out any conditions attached to their freedom to take employment or a purple registration certificate stating that they have unconditional access to the employment market. If you wish to employ an A2 national who does not already have permission to work, you will need to apply for a “work permit”. Further information available here.

3. How do I apply to become a licensed sponsor?

You must go onto the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) website and apply online. Only online applications are accepted.

4. What does it cost?

The current fees (November 2009) range between £300 and £1000 dependent on the size of your organisation and the Tiers for which you apply. A Full table of fees is available on the UK Visas and Immigration website here

5. What will they ask me?

You can check the information required by the on-line form before you apply by downloading a dummy application that you can print out in hard copy here. Note that you cannot use this form to submit your application – it must be done online.

6. What else do I need?

Once you have completed your application you will be asked to submit supporting documents as evidence that you are genuine organisation operating or trading lawfully in the UK. These must be submitted within 10 working days.

7. Can I apply under other categories at the same time?

Yes. For example, if you employ non-EEA nationals under both Tier 2 and Tier 5 (temporary workers) you can apply for a licence to cover both and save money compared with separate applications.

8. I have a number of branches within the same group. Should I apply for a licence for the individual branches or as a group?

You can do either but if you are applying as a group you may be asked to provide evidence that the branches/businesses within the group are under common ownership or control. Your decision might be influenced by the way one branch might affect another. If branches are part of a group but licensed individually and the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) decides to downgrade a branch or remove its licence, other branches within the group will not be affected. If the same happened to a branch under a group licence, all of the other branches would be affected.

9. Will the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) visit me?

Yes. Normally this is before a licence is granted but if they do not have the resources available, it might be later.

10. What happens during a visit by the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)?

The visit by the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) will normally be made by appointment and last around an hour. They will discuss your processes for meeting your responsibilities as a sponsor, for example how you meet the requirements for record keeping, monitoring and reporting. They will normally test these by examining employee files. Following the visit they will prepare a report with recommendations as to whether you should be granted a licence and if so whether it should be “A” or “B” rated.  They will normally tell you at the time of the visit what their recommendation is likely to be and whether they have identified areas for improvement.

11. What happens if I am “B” rated?

The UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)  will issue you with an “action plan” highlighting the areas for improvement and a timescale. They will re-visit to ensure the improvements have been made.  If you do not comply with the action plan you could have your licence revoked. A sponsor that is still “B” rated after 12 months will automatically lose its licence. You can still employ non-EEA nationals even if you are “B” rated.

12. Will the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) visit me again in the future?

Possibly. The UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) reserves the right to visit you at any time, whether prearranged or not, to check your compliance.  

 

13. What responsibilities do I have as a licensed sponsor?

The two major areas are:

  • Record keeping – retaining copies of employee documents and contact details
  • Informing UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) if an employee does not take up the job or is absent without permission for a significant period

14. I am a licensed sponsor. What is the process for recruiting a non-EEA national ?

The first step is to check the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) Codes of Practice for the particular job. These show the skill levels and rates of pay for the job and where it must be advertised to ensure that UK resident workers have an opportunity to apply for the job (the so called resident labour market test). The Code of Practice also show if a job is on the shortage occupation list.

15. What about the advertisement itself?

The job advert must show the job title; main duties and responsibilities of the job (job description); the location of the job; an indication of the salary package or salary range or terms on offer; skills, qualifications and experience required; the closing date for applications or period of a rolling recruitment programme.

16. What is the significance of the shortage occupation list?

The Migration Advisory Committee makes recommendations to Government where there are not enough resident workers to fill certain jobs. Once agreed by Government, these jobs are placed on a shortage occupation list.  The job must be for a minimum of 30 hours per week.
If a job is on the shortage occupation list, you do not need to meet the resident labour market test. Nor will the prospective employee have to show evidence of previous earnings or qualifications.

17. What records do I need to keep?

You must keep a full set of records of the recruitment process to be able to show (if requested) that you have met the requirements of the resident labour market test. You should also retain a dated screen shot of the information you have used under the relevant Code of Practice. Following appointment, you must keep copies of the employee’s contract, pay etc to prove that his/her terms and conditions are in accordance with the job that was advertised. Click here for details of the documents you need to retain.

18. How do I issue a certificate of sponsorship?

Once you have identified that a job is on the shortage occupation list or have completed the resident labour market test and identified the best candidate, you can issue the certificate of sponsorship via the sponsorship management system. You will be requested to input details of the applicant and the job. To input the applicant’s details you will need passport and address details. To input the job details you will need the Code of Practice reference for the job, a brief description of the job and where it was advertised (unless it was on the shortage occupation list) the salary and starting date.  You also have to pay the fee for each certificate you issue. Fees (and exemptions) are show here.
The system will generate a unique number which you should give to applicant to put on the application form. It is also a good idea to give the applicant a copy of the details you entered when issuing the sponsorship management certificate to ensure it corresponds with what he/she puts on the application.  

19. Will there be a limit on the number of Certificates of Sponsorship I can assign?

Yes. This will reflect the number you requested when you first applied and UK Visas and Immigration’s view of your operation. 

20. How do I work out how many Certificates of Sponsorship to apply for?

This should be based on previous and projected non-EEA employee numbers and should also include an allowance for employees who may need to renew their permission to stay whilst they are employed you. The allocation is for 12 months from the date the licence is issued. Unused Certificates of Sponsorship cannot be carried forward into the next period.

21. Can I apply for an additional allocation if I run out?

Yes, you can do this via the sponsorship management system but try to do so as soon as you identify the need as there could be some delay while the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) considers your request. You will be asked to provide a reason for increasing your number of Certificates of Sponsorship.

22. Can a colleague issue a Certificate of Sponsorship on my behalf?

Only if they have been appointed as a Level 1 or Level 2 user. The UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) has warned that it will penalise any organisation where it is found that usernames and passwords are being used by another person.

23. What is the validity of a Certificate of Sponsorship?

A Certificate of Sponsorship must be issued within 6 months of the date the vacancy is first advertised. It is valid for 3 months from the date it is assigned. If it is not used within this period it will automatically become invalid.

24. What documents do I need to see when I take on an employee?

You should ask a prospective employee to produce an original document showing entitlement to work before you start employing them. It is good practice to make this request of all employees even if they claim to be British Citizens. The UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) provides a list of documents that show a person has a right to work. A driving licence, credit card or other document not included on the list will not be sufficient to provide an excuse if a person is found to be working illegally. Nor is a National Insurance number on its own sufficient. Note also that in some cases a combination of documents will be required. Click here to see the UKVI summary guadnce for employers

25. What checks do I need to make of the documents?           

You should check that the photograph and date of birth are consistent with the employee’s appearance and that the documents do not show any obvious signs of tampering. You are not expected to have any expertise in the detection of forgeries but only to identify anything that is reasonably apparent. You must also check that any endorsements in a passport are valid and allow the holder to take employment.

26. What records do I need to keep?

You should copy the front cover of a passport and any pages containing the holder’s personal details. You should also copy any pages containing UK immigration endorsements.  Any other documents should be copied in their entirety. Copies should be made in an unalterable format, either as photocopies or scans. It is also good practice to sign and date the copies.  Copies should be kept for 2 years after a person’s employment has ceased.

27. Do I have to make any further checks?

The UKVI specify that some documents need to be re-checked every 12 months. These documents are mainly ones where there is a time limit attached to a person’s stay and are shown in List B here The checks should take the same form as for a new employee. Further copies should be taken of the relevant pages and should be signed, dated and retained.

28. What about existing employees?

You should check to ensure you have on file copies of documents showing an entitlement to work for every current employee who has been employed since 1997. Employers' legal responsibilities in respect of preventing illegal migrant working relate only to staff employed on or after 27 January 1997. Employers who did not check the entitlement to work in the United Kingdom of staff employed before this date are not liable to sanctions if such individuals are found to be working illegally.