Points Based System - Sponsor Licence
PREMIUM SPONSORSHIP – TIERS 2 AND 5
to our immigration update on 26 January 2012, we
can now provide you with full details on how the controversial new scheme is
intended to be implemented. Please see full details as received directly from
the UKBA below:
The Premium Customer Service for
sponsors will be open for applications from Tier 2 and 5 sponsors on 6 April
2012. The service is aimed at high users of the sponsorship system.
All A-rated Tier 2 and 5 sponsors who
meet the eligibility criteria, pay a fee and
pass a UK Border Agency compliance audit, are eligible to apply
for Premium Customer Service. There is a provision for Small and Medium
Enterprises (SMEs), which can receive a reduced benefit package for a smaller
fee with the SME+ Service. Sponsors qualifying for Premium service will be
afforded a number of benefits.
Q&A ON PREMIUM SPONSORSHIP
What are the benefits of Premium
Customer Service for Sponsors?
will be identified as a Premium Sponsor on the UK Border Agency Register
will be allocated a named Licence Manager
will have a UK Border Agency Senior Account Manager
will receive priority treatment on post licensing requests, such as Change
employees submitting an online application will benefit from the immediate
return of their passport
will be given 50 pre-paid checks using the online Employer Checking
Service (from May 2012)
will be given priority access to Public Enquiry Office appointments
will receive priority out of service standard requests
will be invited to attend Premium Customer Service stakeholder events
will be guaranteed access to Priority and Premium services overseas.
What are the benefits of SME+?
will be identified as a SME+ Sponsor on the UK Border Agency
Register of Sponsors
will have a named Licence Manager
will receive priority treatment on post licensing requests, such as Change
will be given 25 pre-paid checks using the online Employer Checking
Service (from May 2012)
What is the fee for this service?
For sponsors wishing to access the
full range of benefits the fee is £25,000 per annum. For sponsors who paid the
lower licence fee for their Sponsor Licence and only want to access the reduced
package of benefits, the fee is £8,000 per annum
How will applicants apply for Premium
The application will be made online
via the Sponsorship Management System (SMS).
How will you assess whether sponsors
Sponsors must demonstrate that they
meet the criteria of an A-rated sponsor.
Will there be a requirement for
premium sponsors to reapply each year?
Yes, the fee is for the provision of
benefits for one year only. Qualifying sponsors must re-apply, and pay a
further fee if they want to continue to receive these benefits.
What will happen to the sponsors that
do not reapply after one year as a premium sponsor?
Sponsors will continue as an A-rated
sponsor, but will cease to receive the benefits afforded to premium sponsors.
How will a sponsor reapply for Premium
Customer Service after the first year?
They will submit an online application
through the Sponsorship Management System.
What is meant by SME sponsor?
Our definition in the sponsor guidance
is taken from the Companies Act 2006 and the 2008 amendment. The guidance
states an SME is identified as a business that has not more than £25.9 million
turnover, a balance sheet total of no more than £12.9 million and not more than
250 employees. To be eligible for SME+ the sponsor must have paid the lower
licence fee for their most recent sponsor licence application.
Can a large business choose to pay the
lower fee for the SME+ scheme if they are content with fewer benefits?
No, sponsors applying to become a
premium sponsor, that do not qualify for SME+ will be subject to the higher fee
of £25,000. A large business applying under SME arrangements will have their
application rejected and fee refunded.
Can a sponsor who paid the lower
licence fee for their sponsor application choose to pay the higher fee and
receive full premium sponsor benefits?
Yes, we will not prevent SMEs applying
for full premium service, if they choose to pay the full fee.
Can a sponsor upgrade from SME+ to
Premium Customer Service during the year of service?
No, but they can choose to pay the
full £25,000 and receive full benefits of the Premium Customer Service.
If an application is refused will the
sponsors get their money back?
No, there will be no refund for
What is the role of the licence
The licence manager has a range of
contacts across the agency and will:
that post licensing requests are processed within the agreed timescales
the premium sponsors contact for international worker queries, including
visa applications made overseas
requests to expedite in-country applications. These requests will only be
considered on a case by case basis.
Employers wishing to employ nationals from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) must now obtain a Sponsor Licence. In November 2008, the UK Work Permit Scheme was closed and replaced with a Points Based System (PBS). The Licence will enable a UK employer to sponsor skilled workers, temporary workers or students under the new PBS.
Entry to the UK now consists of a two-part process. Employers who hold a Sponsor Licence will be able to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship for a prospective employee, which will be forwarded to the individual to enable them to submit an application for Entry Clearance in their country of residence.
The Sponsor Licence scheme will shortly be introduced to colleges and universities as well as churches or missions.
A Sponsor Licence will enable the employer to sponsor Tier 2 and Tier 5 workers.
Tier 2 has four categories of workers:
Tier 5 has two categories of workers:
youth mobility scheme.
Temporary workers are categorised as follows:
Sponsor Licences are issued by the UK Border and Immigration Agency (UKBA). Once an employer or college has been granted a Sponsor Licence certain duties and responsibilities must continue to be met in order to retain the Licence. UKBA will undertake site visits and audits from time to time to ensure that the regulations are adhered to. In some cases such visits will be without prior notice.
Sponsors must be able to evidence that they have sufficient processes and procedures in place which will enable them to meet the compliance regulations.
The introduction of the PBS places the onus onto Licence holders to ensure that the individual coming to the UK is eligible to do so and that there is a genuine offer of employment or study.
Sponsors will be granted an A or B rating. An A rating should be granted to the majority of Sponsors, however in some cases where the UKBA believe that the obligations on Sponsors are not being met, or if the organisation may be considered a threat to UK immigration a B rating will be granted. B ratings are transitional and holders will be granted a time limit in which to evidence that they can meet the criteria and, potentially, gain an A rating.
Sponsor Licence holders should note:
if a Certificate of Sponsorship is deemed to have been issued in error, all sponsored non-EU citizens may be require to leave the UK with 28 days
authorising officers within UK organisations may face a fine of £10,000 or two years in prison if found to be in breach of immigration laws
sufficient records showing that all criteria has been met must be kept to ensure that when the organisation is audited in the future, they are able to justify the issuing of a Certificate of Sponsorship
employers must ensure that any overseas qualification held by the prospective employee is equivalent to a UK NVQ level 3 or above
where advertising has taken place to fill the position, this must meet the requirements under the PBS
if Certificates of Sponsorship are issued outside of the PBS their Licence may be suspended and all overseas national may be required to leave the UK.
Low skilled workers, voluntary workers, temporary workers under International Agreements
It is anticipated that Tier 3 will enable Sponsors to bring in low-skilled workers; however this scheme is not yet operating.
In order to employ voluntary workers, Sponsors must apply under Tier 5 and must be a registered charity (or have charitable status if in Northern Ireland).
Temporary workers under International Agreements include:
private servants in diplomatic households must be sponsored by a diplomatic mission
Overseas Government Employees must be sponsored by a diplomatic mission or international mission recognised by the UK government
Sponsors wishing to employ migrants under the General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS) must be able to show that the job relates to the terms of the agreement
Youth Mobility Scheme migrants should be sponsored by their relevant government.
How to apply for a Sponsor Licence
Applications for a Sponsor Licence must be made electronically and if successful a Licence will be issued for four years. Upon expiry if the employer still continues to employ non-EEA nationals a fresh Licence must be applied for whether or not the employer intends to sponsor additional non-EEA nationals.
In cases where employers have several branches, a single Licence application can be made. However should the Licence be revoked at any time, it will apply to all branches.
Certificate of Sponsorship
Once an employer has obtained a Sponsor Licence they will be able to assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). When submitting an application for a Sponsor Licence, employers must state how many of each type of CoS they anticipate applying for in a 12 month period. If this figure needs to be increased, an application will need to be made to the UK Border Agency.
Once an employer is satisfied that they have met all the requirements relating to the employment of a non-EEA national, they can assign a CoS. The requirements include undertaking a relevant recruitment search, satisfying themselves that the candidate meets the requirements of the position and has the necessary qualifications. It is vital that documentation is retained by the employer to evidence compliance.
A CoS is an electronic document which generates a unique reference number which allows the potential employee to submit an entry clearance application. The CoS does not guarantee entry clearance however it enables the Entry Clearance Officer to access sponsorship information online.
Sponsors must only issue Certificates of Sponsorship to candidates who they consider to be eligible and qualified to undertake the employment or course of study for which the Certificate is issued.
Sponsors are required to keep thorough documentation relating to each candidate for whom they are responsible. This documentation must be made available to the UK Border Agency on request.
Sponsors must retain full contact details for each individual as well as a copy of their passport or UK visa status, demonstrating their eligibility to work or study in the UK. Where migrants have biometric Immigration Documents, commonly known as identity cards, a copy must be retained.
Additionally, sponsors are required to undertake reporting duties where a sponsored migrant's conduct is unsatisfactory.
If a sponsored migrant does not arrive for their first day of work or study, this must be reported within ten working days. The absence must still be reported in cases where a reason has been given.
If sponsored migrants fail to attend work or study for a period of more than ten working days, without the permission of the sponsor, this must also be reported, within ten working days.
Where a contract is terminated (employment or study related) either via the sponsored migrant's own choice or due to dismissal this must also be reported within the ten day time frame. If the sponsor holds details of the sponsored migrant's new place of work or study, this information should also be submitted.
If, for any other reason, sponsor and candidate part company, this too must be reported. Sponsors must also make the UK Border Agency aware of any significant changes in the circumstances of either party.