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Becoming a licensed sponsor - is your business ready?

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Businesses wishing to recruit workers from overseas post January 2021 must become registered, licensed sponsors in post-Brexit Britain. Are you ready, asks Gemma Hill, senior solicitor at local law firm Hewitsons?

Gemma Hill, senior solicitor, Hewitsons (42294976)
Gemma Hill, senior solicitor, Hewitsons (42294976)

From January, all overseas workers who wish to come to the UK to live and work will be subject to a points-based system.

As an employer, if you wish to recruit workers from the EU or further afield from January, and you are not already a licensed sponsor, you should consider making an application to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to become one.

Becoming a sponsor carries several onerous responsibilities and so it is important to consider whether your business is willing and able to comply before you apply.

Before applying for a licence, you should:

  • Consider in detail why your business wishes to hold a sponsor licence. What vacancies would you intend to recruit migrant workers into? Would those vacancies meet the eligibility requirements?
  • Consider whether you have suitable HR processes in place to comply with the record-keeping and reporting duties. Are the contracts of employment and other employment documentation for staff up to date and easy to locate? Do you have the record-keeping systems in place to enable you to keep track of key dates, staff absences and changes in employee circumstances?
  • Ensure that your right to work checks are being undertaken in line with the UKVI guidance, that the appropriate records are kept and that such records are up to date and easy to locate.
  • Consider which staff would be appropriate to appoint to the key personnel roles, whether they would meet the eligibility requirements and be able to manage the obligations placed on them within such roles.

Failure to comply with your sponsor duties can lead not only to the suspension or revocation of your licence, but also potential civil penalties and criminal convictions in respect of illegal working.

It usually takes around eight weeks for an application to be approved, although UKVI is likely to receive an influx of applications in the lead up to January which could lead to delays in applications being granted, leaving some employers unable to recruit workers from outside the UK for some time.

Our advice is to start looking into the sponsor licence application process as soon as possible. For advice or assistance, contact Hewitsons on 01223 461155.

Visit hewitsons.com .

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