Employers and Colleges wishing to sponsor migrant workers and students must hold a ‘Sponsorship Licence’. Your organisation will be unable to apply to extend existing work permits or make an application for a new employee or student without one.
To obtain a sponsorship licence you must be a genuine organisation or sole trader operating legally in the UK. You should not pose a threat to immigration control (the history and background of your organisation and key personnel are considered). You must comply with sponsor duties through efficient Human Resource systems in order to carry out your duties. Licences are issued for four years and must be renewed before this period expires.
The UK Border Agency assesses your organisation’s Human Resource Systems in the following Areas:
- Area 1 – Monitoring immigration status and preventing illegal employment
- Area 2 – Maintaining migrant contact details
- Area 3 – Record keeping
- Area 4 – Migrant tracking and monitoring
- Area 5 – Recruitment practices and professional accreditations
To get a top rating for your Human Resource Systems overall you must mostly achieve a rating of 1 in these Areas. Sponsors are graded ‘A’ or ‘B’ based on risk assessments. Most will be rated ‘A’ but a sponsor can be demoted to a ‘B’ rating if the UK Border Agency feels that your company is not fulfilling its obligations. Organisations with a B rating will be required to follow a Sponsorship Action Plan in order to reach or regain an A rating. The UK Border Agency conduct site visits and audits to monitor and enforce immigration regulations. The sponsor must ensure conditions of the sponsorship licence are continually met. There are heavy fines and even imprisonment for up to two years if found to be in breach of immigration laws. If a sponsor grants sponsorship outside of the Points Based System rules their licence will be suspended or revoked.
A licence permits sponsors to issue certificates of sponsorship to qualifying migrant workers. Sponsoring organisations are responsible for assessing the suitability of candidates as well as monitoring and reporting on their conduct whilst in the UK.
A certificate of sponsorship for a student is known as a ‘confirmation of acceptance for studies’ – a sponsor must be satisfied of the candidate’s suitability and intention to follow the course.
Licensed sponsors must allocate the following roles:
Authorising Officer – Responsible for the activities of anyone acting on your behalf to issue certificates of sponsorship whether they be employees of your organisation or representatives. If the authorising officer needs access to the online management system, they must be set up as a level 1 user. The authorising officer must be a permanent and paid member or office holder in your organisation. They will be held fully responsible for the actions of your authorising office, so the position should be given to a senior and competent person within your organisation. An undischarged bankrupt cannot be an authorising officer.
Level 1 user – will have access to the sponsorship management system and can set up a structure of users within an organisation to manage allocation of certificates of sponsorship and their administrative role. The level 1 user has the major role of keeping all administration up to date and must conduct the day-to-day activities using the sponsor management system.
Level 2 user – has a limited role of administration. They are able to apply and assign certificates of sponsorship to migrants and report migrant activity such as not turning up for work or study, leaving employment, etc.
Key contact – acts as the main point of contact between the sponsoring organisation and the UK Border Agency. If the authorising officer doesn’t wish to be the key contact another person in your organisation or a legal representative must be appointed the role. The key contact doesn’t have automatic access to the sponsorship management system but can have access and act as a level 1 and/or level 2 user if you wish.
The above roles can be carried out by one person or four people.
Legal Representatives – can help you apply for a licence, act as a level 1 user, level 2 user and key contact. A legal representative cannot act as the authorising officer. Legal representatives must be a solicitor, barrister, legal executive or authorised by the OISC or exempt.
iConsult Immigration can assist you with your application and once successful, act as your representative with the UK Border Agency, ensuring your organisation remains compliant. We help you keep up to date with immigration law and prevent you from inadvertently breaking the law, by making sure you meet the obligations of sponsorship and that you secure and maintain an ‘A’ rating. In a nutshell, we help you avoid the potential pitfalls of sponsorship legislation.
Most of the time we offer a no win, no fee service, which will be discussed during initial assessment. Generally we don’t take on cases unless we are sure of success. Contact us or complete the initial enquiry form to the right NOW!