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 Using immigration routes to tackle labour shortages
Immigration law for businesses & organisations

Using immigration routes to tackle labour shortages



Many sectors across the UK are struggling to recruit workers. Several factors, including COVID-19 and Brexit, have had a notable impact on the labour market. This has been compounded by the current low unemployment rates in the UK and the high number of vacancies.

According to the Office for National Statistics’ latest figures published on 17 May 2022, the number of job vacancies in the UK from February to April 2022 rose to a new record of 1,295,000. This represents an increase of 33,700 from the previous quarter and an increase of 499,300 from the pre-pandemic level from January to March 2020. Given these difficulties, it is now more important than ever for organisations to consider incorporating immigration into their recruitment strategies.

Obtaining a sponsor licence with UK Visas and Immigration (‘UKVI’) will enable your business to access a wider pool of workers outside of the UK and remain competitive in a buoyant jobs market.

Visa sponsorship

Before an organisation can consider sponsoring the employment of migrant workers, it first has to obtain a sponsor licence from UKVI. There are different types of sponsor licence so it is important to understand which licence will best serve your organisation’s needs. The types of licence include:

– Worker: for skilled or long-term employment
– Temporary Worker: for specific types of temporary employment

Within each licence type there are different visa routes, for example, the skilled worker or global business mobility routes. Organisations can apply to be licensed on as many routes as necessary to meet their business needs.

Licence eligibility

Organisations applying for a licence need to meet certain eligibility and suitability criteria. This includes demonstrating:

– you are a genuine organisation and have an operating or trading presence in the UK (except for the UK Expansion worker route which requires a UK ‘footprint’)
– you have suitable human resource and recruitment systems in place to meet, or continue to meet, your sponsor duties
– you can offer genuine employment that meets the salary and skill-level criteria of the routes by which you are seeking a sponsor licence
– that no owner, director, person involved in the day to day running of the business or key personnel nominated to manage the sponsor licence system have any unspent criminal convictions for certain offences.

Before applying for a licence it is essential that your organisation understands and is fully aware of the duties placed on licenced sponsors, including your reporting and record-keeping duties. This is important for compliance with your licence obligations, immigration laws and wider UK laws. To assist, you will need to nominate members of your staff as ‘key personnel’ to carry out certain functions after a licence is granted. Ongoing compliance with your sponsor duties is essential to maintain your licence and your ongoing ability to sponsor foreign national workers.

Application process

Sponsor licence applications are submitted online, together with supporting documentary evidence. A licence fee is payable on submission (£536 for small or charitable sponsors and £1476 for medium or large sponsors). Applications are currently taking in the region of eight weeks to be considered. For an additional fee, there is the possibility of fast track processing which can reduce the timescale to 10 working days (although availability is limited). UKVI can carry out onsite visits as part of the application process, or request further information, which can extend the processing times.

How we can help

We work with our clients to review their staffing needs and on-boarding processes, including:

– Offering advice and training to your recruiting teams on available visa routes to meet your staffing needs
– Advising on roles suitable for visa sponsorship
– Providing guidance in developing immigration specific organisational policies
– Assisting organisations become licenced sponsors with UKVI
– Conducting compliance audits regarding sponsor management duties and right to work checks

Should your organisation need assistance in applying for a sponsor licence, or wish to explore ways in which immigration could enhance your recruitment strategy, please get in touch with a member of our team to discuss further.



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Get in touch

Call us for free on 0330 912 0294 or complete our online form below for legal advice or to arrange a call back.

Speak to us today on 0330 159 5555

Get in touch


Get in touch

Call us for free on 0330 159 5555 or complete our online form below to submit your enquiry or arrange a call back.