Sponsoring care workers- considerations for employers
As the crisis in social care recruitment deepens, many care providers are considering sponsoring skilled workers from overseas. Potentially, a great source of skilled workers to help plug skills gaps. This article is for care providers who are considering applying for a sponsor licence. It covers some of the big issues that you need to consider before taking the leap.
What do we have to do?
The basic procedure to sponsor overseas workers has three steps;
1. Business applies for a sponsor licence
All businesses must get a licence before they can sponsor anybody. An online application must be supported by essential documents and additional information. Decisions typically take 8-10 weeks. If the Home Office conduct a compliance visit then this will increase the waiting time.
A licence lasts for 4 years and you can use it to sponsor multiple workers. You do not have to get a new licence for each employee that you sponsor!
If a licence application is refused, then your business cannot apply again for 12 months.
2. Business sponsors a new recruit by issuing them a ‘certificate of sponsorship’(CoS)
This is an electronic document which sets out all of the important information about the role and the employee. The onus is on the business to get the information correct and to make sure that it meets the immigration rules. This means that the roles is a ‘skilled’ job and that the salary is high enough to meet the rules.
This step is usually pretty quick- a few days. However, the Home Office can request extra information and this can add around 2-3 weeks.
3. The new recruit applies for a Health and Social Care visa
- The recruit must use the CoS to apply for a visa to enter the UK. They will need to show that they speak English to intermediate level and that they have a clear criminal record. It takes around 3 weeks to get a decision.
How many people can we sponsor?
There is no fixed number of how many workers you can sponsor. However, you need to consider some factors.
- Only ‘senior’ care workers can be sponsored. This is because a non-senior care work role is not considered to be a ‘skilled’ job. Typically, a ‘senior care worker’ has some supervisory responsibility, or is ‘lead’ carer on a shift. The Home Office take this very seriously and often make extra checks to make sure that the workers are ‘senior’. If all of your care workers are ‘senior’ then this will raise an eyebrow.
- You need to justify the number of workers that you need. If you can justify recruiting 20 senior care workers then that is fine. However, the more that you request, the harder it is to explain to the Home Office why you need them.
How much does it cost?
It is important to consider all of the costs of sponsorship before you embark on a sponsor licence application.
The Home Office charge various fees. There are significant discounts for health and social care, but the costs can still mount up if you have lots of sponsored workers. The main costs are set out below for a small and for a medium/large business. We have included costs for a 3 year visa and a 5 year visa. A person with a Health and Social Care visa can settle in the UK after 5 years.
Stage One- Sponsor Licence Application
Licence Application Fee
Stage Two- Assign Certificate of Sponsorship
CoS Assignment Fee
Immigration Skills Charge
Stage Three- Candidate applies for Health and Social Care Visa
The fees below are for entry clearance applications (applications made from outside the UK).
3 year visa
5 year visa
OTB Legal’s fees are set out on our website.
Is there anything else we should consider?
When you sponsor workers, you take on extra responsibilities for monitoring them, for record keeping and for reporting to the Home Office. You also must really understand the rules relating to sponsored workers and apply them correctly.
The Home Officer operate a ‘light trigger’ approach to enforcement. This means that they revoke licences quite easily if they find infractions. It is often not enough to say that you didn’t understand. You are accepting the responsibility to understand the rules and apply them properly.
If you come to rely heavily on sponsored workers, then losing a licence would be a major blow.
Sounds great, how can we get your help?
If you think that a sponsor licence is the way to go then please make arrange a free appointment with one of our specialists. We will discuss your circumstances with you and advise on your best options.