UK Business Immigration

At Ferguson Snell, we help employers apply for and manage their Sponsor Licence system, supporting full UK immigration compliance.

We understand UK immigration legislation requirements, saving our clients time and money when it comes to the transfer of talent from one territory to another. By engaging in a strategic partnership with each client, we are able to offer expert advice, drawn from our unrivalled experience in UK corporate immigration to provide a fast, personalised, high value service to all our UK business immigration clients.

The UK business immigration team has decades of experience across a broad range of industries including IT, Finance, Insurance, Oil and Gas, and Professional Services amongst others. With accuracy, efficiency and empathy at the centre of our service provision, we make sure that each client’s employee immigration processes are seamless, end-to-end and fully compliant.

The UK business immigration team is entirely client focused; no hidden costs, no time delays. Made up of experienced, qualified professionals, the team offers unrivalled levels of experience and quality of service across the following UK immigration services:

Sponsor Licence Application

This process is for companies that wish to sponsor and employ non-EEA nationals under the Points Based System. In order to be able to sponsor a migrant, your business must hold a Sponsor Licence; the application is submitted to the Home Office, who will undertake rigorous checks to ensure that your company is a legitimate entity, with fully compliant HR processes already in place.

In applying for a Sponsor Licence your company is agreeing to meet a number of sponsorship duties. These include record keeping, reporting, complying with the law, co-operating with the Home Office and other, Tier-specific, duties. It goes without saying that if your business relies on migrant employees, absolute compliance is critical to your function.

Our long history and outstanding reputation in the UK immigration business means that we have forged valuable relationships, enabling us to provide expedient Sponsor Licence Application services to our clients.

Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)

A Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is an electronic “certificate” containing a unique electronic reference number which is assigned to non-EEA Nationals by a sponsoring company in the UK. The sponsoring company must hold a Sponsor Licence (see above) in order to assign a CoS via the Home Office’s online Sponsor Management System (SMS).

A CoS contains specific information about the non-EEA National’s UK employment, including the proposed job title, salary, allowances (if any), hours of work per week and a detailed job description. It also includes personal information about the individual, including their full name, current passport number, home address and place of birth. This must be provided with an initial application for entry clearance to the UK and used when applying for an extension of stay in the UK under Tier 2 or Tier 5 of the Points Based System (PBS). For certain hired positions under Tier 2, a restricted CoS (RCOS) must be assigned to the individual. All other CoS’s are referred to as ‘unrestricted’ CoS’s. Tier 2 sponsorship is also subject to occupation-based minimum salaries.

Once a sponsor licence has been awarded, an employer may apply for an employee to enter or remain in the country under the various tier-based sub-categories, including:

Tier 2: (General) Unrestricted

This category applies to newly hired individuals who are already in the UK on Tier 2 (general, or ICT), Tier 1 and Tier 4 visas, as well as new hires with a gross annual salary of above £153,500. In all Tier 2 Unrestricted visas, applicants must have a gross annual salary of at least £20,500, must meet English language speaking requirements and must meet maintenance requirements.

In order to apply for the visa, the applicant must be assigned an Unrestricted Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS).

Tier 2: (General) Restricted

New hires who do not fall into the Tier 2 (General) Unrestricted category, detailed above, must be assigned a Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship (rCoS). Before this, the employer must request the rCoS from the Home Office. An rCoS will be issued to an employer for a job at or above NQF level 6, where the employer has complied with the Resident Labour Market Test and where the migrant is in receipt of a salary and/or allowances at or above the appropriate rate.

In all Tier 2 Restricted visa cases, applicants must have a gross annual salary of £20,500 or more, meet English Language speaking requirements and meet maintenance requirements.

Intra-Company Transfer (ICT)

This route allows employees of a UK company overseas to transfer to a UK company in cases where the two companies are connected by common control or ownership.  The length of the individual’s permitted assignment in the UK will depend on the length of the individual’s employment with the overseas entity at the date of their visa application. This category no longer leads to Indefinite Leave to Remain. The English language requirement does not need to be met.

The ICT visa consists of the following sub-categories:

  • Long Term (up to 9 years) – for overseas staff employed there for 12 months or more,
  • Short Term (up to 12 months) – for overseas staff employed there for 12 months or more,
  • Graduate Trainee – for overseas staff employed there for three months or more and
  • Skills Transfer – for all overseas hires, including new recruits.

Tier 5: Temporary Work Visa

A Temporary Work, visa is for non-EEA nationals who intend to conduct certain business activities in the UK for limited durations of time.

Business Visitor visas are usually issued for no more than six months as a short term non-working visa for individuals conducting business activities in the UK permitted by the Home Office, either on behalf of themselves or their employer. Examples of some permitted activities include attending meetings, conferences and seminars, conducting site visits, negotiating deals and signing contracts. It is important to be sure of the scope of permitted activities as a visa may be revoked and individuals may face removal from the UK if they are deemed to be working or completing training outside of the restrictions of the visa. A Tier 2 visa or alternative working visa should be sought if an individual wishes to engage in activities that are deemed to be active work.

Tier 5: Youth Mobility Scheme

The Youth Mobility Scheme (formerly known as Working Holiday Maker) under Tier 5 of the Points Based System allows applicants aged 18 – 30 years old from participating countries and territories to live and work in the UK. The visa is issued for up to two years and permits work and full-time study, however once awarded this visa, an individual cannot extend their visa or switch to a different category of the Points-Based System.

An individual may apply for this visa if they are a citizen or passport holder of Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea or Taiwan, if they are a British overseas citizen, a British overseas territories citizen or a British national (overseas).

Each applicant must be able to prove their ability to support themselves throughout their stay in the UK and a Certificate of Sponsorship is required for passport holders from the Republic of Korea or Taiwan.

Employer Audit and Advisory Services: Pre and Post Licence Check

Application for a Sponsor Licence is effectively a contract between you and UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) that assures your compliance. All businesses who are either applying for a licence or hold a licence will, at some stage, be subject to an audit from Visiting Officers of  the UKVI who will review your compliance in all of the processes and procedures linked to employee migration.

This period of time can be stressful for organisations; Ferguson Snell will reduce the stress of your audit by ensuring that you correctly adhere to regulations and operate within the parameters of your contract with UKVI.

For more information about our UK business immigration services or the Points Based System, please Get in touch