Sponsor a Skilled Worker

Most UK businesses and organisations will obtain a Sponsor Licence to recruit Skilled Workers from outside the UK. Here, we explain the steps required to sponsor a Skilled Worker and how we can help your business or organisation at every stage of the process.

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What you need to sponsor a Skilled Worker

Before starting the process of applying for a Skilled Worker visa, you must ensure the job you wish to be performed and person you wish to perform it will qualify for the Skilled Worker visa. The jobs that can be sponsored appear on the Home Office’s list of eligible occupations. They can be found here:

The eligible occupations listed are the general occupations, as described by the ONS. Often the job to be sponsored will be very easily identified on the list but sometimes the job will not match exactly and you need to take care that the intended job can be justified to the Home Office as properly fitting under the more general occupation listed.

The minimum salary that must be paid is whichever is the highest out of the following three options:

  • £26,200 per year
  • £10.75 per hour
  • the ‘going rate’ as stated by the Home Office

When you have identified that the job is listed as an eligible occupation, that you can pay at least the minimum salary required and the intended employee has the appropriate skills, qualifications and experience needed to do the job, you are ready to apply to sponsor a Skilled Worker visa.

How to obtain a Skilled Worker visa

Obtaining a Certificate of Sponsorship

A Sponsor Licence holder utilises their Sponsor Licence through their online Home Office portal, known as the Sponsor Management System. To sponsor a Skilled Worker a Certificate of Sponsorship must be applied for and obtained using the Sponsor Management System. When the certificate has been granted it can be assigned to a specific individual to be used in their Skilled Worker visa application. When assigning the Certificate of Sponsorship to the person, a £199 admin fee must be paid and also the Immigration Skills Charge, a fee levied by the government on businesses and organisations when they recruit workers under a Sponsor Licence. The fee is £364 or £1,000 per year of the visa that is to be sponsored, depending on whether you are a small or large sponsor. The Certificate of Sponsorship requires details of the time period of the visa to be sponsored and the Immigration Skills Charge will be calculated accordingly. When formally assigned to the specific individual, the Skilled Worker visa application can now be prepared.

Preparing the visa application

A visa application is applied for online via the Home Office’s website. A visa application is a complex process requiring essential information in respect of the person applying, full disclosures in respect of their immigration history throughout the world and crucially in the UK and details relevant to criminal history. When the information about the person is obtained it is very important that information is assessed to determine the person’s prospects of satisfying all eligibility requirements for the visa. A Skilled Worker visa application must also be supported by a number of mandatory documents. The applicant requires to demonstrate they have sufficient financial savings and depending on their country of origin may require to obtain a specific English language qualification and a TB test.

Submitting the visa application

When the application and documents have been prepared the application is submitted online. At this stage the applicant must pay the visa fee and the immigration health surcharge . The visa fee is presently £625 (for a visa of up to three years) or £1,235 (more than three years and to a maximum of five years). The immigration health surcharge is £624 per year of the visa being applied for. After the application has been paid for and submitted a visa appointment must then be arranged at a visa centre where the person applying is located. The visa appointment is to provide the original passport and provide biometric information (photograph and fingerprints). visa centres are not operated by the Home Office but by commercial partners of the Home Office. Prior to the appointment all supporting documents must be uploaded via the visa centre’s website. After the visa appointment the application is then ready for decision by the Home Office.

Decision processing time

The Home Office publishes approximate processing times for all visa applications. The average time for a Skilled Worker application is three weeks. If a faster decision is required, for an additional payment, the priority service should allow a decision to be made within five working days.

When the visa is granted, the successful applicant is asked to collect their passport. Their passport will include an entry clearance document which is valid for three months. This allows the individual to travel to the UK and commence work with you as their sponsor.

How we can help

We can assist at every stage of the process including:

  • Advising you if the intended job is likely to qualify for sponsorship as a Skilled Worker occupation and if the potential recruit has the relevant qualifications and experience
  • Advising and assisting you in applying via the Sponsor Management System to obtain a Certificate of Sponsorship
  • Preparing and submitting the Skilled Worker visa application by working with you, the visa applicant and any external recruitment agencies and organising all relevant steps including visa preparation and submission, document uploading, visa appointment booking and advising until receipt of decision.

Why choose us?

We understand the full process to sponsor and successfully bring new employee to the UK can seem a daunting prospect, not only in making sure all the complex requirements of Immigration law are met but mastering the online systems of the Home Office and commercial visa centres. We have considerable experience of successfully preparing visa applications and can provide expert advice, including providing a full visa service.

Our Immigration law specialists are also embedded in our Employment law team and this allows us to work together to provide a comprehensive service to include all relevant employment law matters that may arise.

Visa extension applications

There is no minimum period for the Skilled Worker visa and the maximum period a visa can be granted for is five years. Many employers decide to sponsor for a period of less than five years as they wish to be satisfied that the person will be a good fit for their business. If an employer wishes to continue sponsoring a Skilled Worker and their visa is due to expire, they must apply to extend the visa. The process is essentially the same but obviously undertaken when the person is already working in the UK.

Other work visas for businesses and organisations

The Skilled Worker visa is the most regularly used work visa for businesses and organisations with a Sponsor Licence and who are seeking to recruit from outside the UK. The Sponsor Licence system however does have a number of additional routes that businesses and organisations can utilise for more specific work visas. These additional visa categories include:

  • Global Business Mobility Visa: Senior or Specialist Worker – allows a Senior or Specialist Worker to come to the UK to work at the UK branch of an overseas company
  • Global Business Mobility Visa: UK expansion Worker Visa – allows a senior employee of an overseas business to work in the UK to set up a branch of the overseas business
  • Minister of Religion Visa – allows a religious organisation with a Sponsor Licence to sponsor a minister of religion to come and work in the UK
  • International Sportsperson Visa – allows a UK sports body with a Sponsor Licence to sponsor elite sportspeople and coaches to come and work in the UK
  • Creative Worker Visa – allows a business or organisation in the creative industry to sponsor a person, for example as an entertainer or artist
  • Charity Worker Visa – allows a charity to sponsor an unpaid worker to come and do unpaid work in the UK
  • Religious Worker Visa – allows a religious organisation to sponsor religious workers to come and work in the UK

Speak to our team today

If you are a small or large business, charity, religious organisation, sports body, government or public body, we have the breadth of knowledge and experience to assist you in successfully sponsoring workers to come to the UK and work for you. We can provide a range of services depending on your requirements, whether it is expert advice on specific issues or a full visa application service.

Contact us by filling out the enquiry form or emailing Mark below.