Sponsor Licence Applications for Start-ups: Frequently Asked Questions

This article will provide guidance for Start-up businesses that wish to apply for a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence from the Home Office. Full details of the eligibility and suitability criteria for a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence are discussed in our previous post How To Apply For a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence.

What type of organisation can be considered as a Start-up business?

In accordance with the Home Office’s Appendix A, an organisation can be considered as a start-up: ‘If you have been operating or trading in the UK for less than 18 months on the date you make your application, the checks we will make are different to those we carry out on more established businesses.’

What documents does a Start-up business need to provide?

Start-up businesses usually needs to provide at least 4 documents. If an organisation can provide more than 4 documents, it is encouraged to do so.

Mandatory documents 

As a start-up, it is essential that evidence is shown that the company has a bank account. The bank must be registered by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority in the UK. You can provide a letter from the bank setting out the dealings it has had with you. Alternatively, you can also provide the most recent bank statements showing transactions. If both documents are provided, it will only be counted as one document.

Other documents

The Home Office understands that as a start-up, there are various documents which may not be available.  The following are suggestions for documents that may be easier to provide:

  • VAT registration certificate from HM Revenue & Customs (‘HMRC’);
  • Letter from HMRC confirming your PAYE reference number and Accounts Office reference number;
  • Employer’s liability insurance cover for at least £5m from an authorised insurer registered with the Financial Conduct Authority;
  • Lease for the business premises;

Other documents which can be provided, if these are available, include:

  • Latest audited or unaudited annual accounts where the name of the accountant is stated. Do check that the accountant is a member of an accredited accounting body;
  • Latest completed Company Tax Return CT600 and the CT603 notice;

Any other mandatory documents?

Franchise: If you are a franchise, it is vital that you provide a copy of the franchise agreement. This must be signed by both parties.

Food business: If you are in the food business and you are required to register with a food authority, evidence must show that your business has obtained registration or approval. This can include evidence from Scores on the Doors or a letter from the relevant authority confirming registration or approval.

It is worth noting that if your business also serves alcohol, you should have a licence issued by the local authority or court granting your business permission to serve alcohol. This can be counted as one document towards your 4 documents.

Businesses which are required to register with a regulated body: The Home Office has set out in Appendix A what they expect to see for the following businesses:

  • “nursing/care homes and other businesses, which must be inspected by Ofsted or the Care Quality Commission or the equivalent bodies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • financial or insurance businesses carrying out regulated activities which must be registered with the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority
  • healthcare and medical providers, who must be registered with the General Medical Council or General Dental Council

This is not an exhaustive list.”

Most of the checks can be carried out online unless you are applying for a licence under a different name, then the last inspection report can be submitted.

Charity: An online check can be conducted if the business is registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales, the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland or the Scottish Charity Regulator.

How will the Home Office assess the sponsor licence application?

The Home Office will check the following when assessing your start-up sponsor licence application:

  • Whether there is a human resource system in place to meet your sponsor duties;
  • Whether they are able to conduct an immediate and unannounced compliance check to ensure sponsor duties are being complied with;
  • Whether there is any evidence of previous non-compliance by you;
  • Whether your organisation is able to offer the genuine employment;
  • That the job meets the correct skilled level and salary requirements as set out in the Immigration Rules;
  • Whether any of the key personnel within the business have an unspent criminal convictions for a relevant offence;

The standard processing time for skilled worker sponsor licence applications is up to 8 weeks. For the application to be processed within 10 working days, a priority service for a fee of £500.00 may be available.

Contact Our Immigration Solicitors

For expert advice and assistance in relation to a Sponsor Licence application or a Skilled Worker application, please contact our immigration solicitors on 020 8240 9018 or via the enquiry form below.