Insights 

Can you apply for a sponsor licence without having an identified skilled worker in place?

As long as the business can demonstrate that they have a genuine need for a vacancy which would potentially suit a prospective foreign skill

  • Ansel Nguyen

During the course of business expansion, businesses looking to hire skilled migrant workers often face a typical dilemma: should they recruit the candidate first or apply for a sponsor licence first? In this post, we share our experience of helping our clients in applying for sponsor licences both with and without an identified worker.

Apply for a sponsor licence without having an identified skilled worker

Recruit the worker before applying for a sponsor licence: Easier but there is a catch!


Applying for a sponsor licence is a complicated process in which several complex requirements need to be satisfied.


As for the business itself, it has to meet certain criteria such as the business must be genuine and operate in the UK. The business also needs to demonstrate that it has the ability to meet the sponsor licence duties including record-keeping, monitoring and reporting, absence monitoring, and notifying the Home Office of changes in circumstance.


Because those duties will only arise when the business is granted a sponsor licence, it has yet existed by the time of sponsor licence application and indeed causes a lot of difficulties for businesses to convince the Home Office that they can comply with those duties. It is thus vital to understand the nature of those future duties and demonstrate accordingly.


As for the role to be sponsored, the requirements are even more complicated. Among others, the requirement of having a genuine role is the most important one.


In order to assess this requirement, the Home Office caseworkers use the genuineness test to see the reasons why the business would need a sponsor licence and a foreign worker for the role.


Conventionally, in addition to other evidence, the businesses are advised to identify an individual they wish the appoint for a role and present them together with the sponsor licence application. This will help the business demonstrate there is a genuine offer in place which will make it easier to persuade the Home Office of the role’s genuineness.


The problem with this method is, however, that the businesses will need to spend their resources first to identify and recruit an individual while it is still not certain that they will be granted a sponsor licence to employ that worker. From the business perspective, it is a big risk of time and resources being wasted if the sponsor licence application is refused.


Another problem with this method is that there would be a certain risk of the sponsor licence processing time being delayed by the Home Office which will highly affect the business plans and projects. In contrast, if the business is granted a sponsor licence several months before the starting date of a project or a role, it can allocate the resources to look for the most suitable candidate and make sure that the project timeline can be met.


It is the reason why we also advise our clients of the second option as below.


Applying for a sponsor licence without a specific worker


For those businesses who need certainty and cannot bear the risk of having their business plans delayed, they can apply for a sponsor licence prior to recruiting foreign workers.


One question we often get from our clients is whether it affects the sponsor licence application in terms of proving their genuineness.


It is vital to remember that under the immigration rules, in order to meet the genuineness test, the business needs to convince the Home Office that they have reasonable reason to recruit a foreign worker for the role. In order to demonstrate that, the business will need to show the Home Office the nature of the role, why the business needs it and how it will fit the organisation, etc.


Therefore, as long as the business can demonstrate that they have a genuine need for a vacancy which would potentially suit a prospective foreign skilled worker in the future, they do not need to appoint a specific worker before applying for a sponsor licence.


Our approach does not purely base on conventional practice but we always seek to explore new and viable options based on specific rules, guidance and precedents. That is how we helped many clients obtain their sponsor licence without having a specific foreign worker.


Need specialist assistance with your sponsor licence application?


Applying for a sponsor licence is known to be complex, costly and requires a lot of technical knowledge.


At NIDO, our business immigration team provides our clients with a complete sponsor licence application service from advising on every step of the application to assisting our clients in preparing supporting documents and evidence. We also advise our clients on the best practice and options based on the nature, scale, and status of the business.


If you need any advice and guidance on the sponsor licence application, contact our team for a free assessment.

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