How long does it take to get a Sponsor Licence? (April 2023 update)

How long does it take to get a Sponsor Licence

10 second summary:

"In April 2023, the average processing time for a Sponsor Licence application is just over 8 weeks. Despite a record number of applications, UKVI is getting faster due to increased caseworking capacity. Now's a great time to apply for a Sponsor Licence, but it's still important to get it right first time!"

*****Editor’s note – This article was originally published in the summer of 2021, but was last updated in April 2023 with the latest data published by the Home Office*****

In April 2023, the average processing time for a Sponsor Licence application is just over 8 weeks. This is a significant improvement on the previous quarter, despite a record number of applications – 8,651 in Q1 2023. 

Average length of time taken to process a Sponsor Licence application, in weeks

Applications for a Sponsor Licence (Tier 2/Worker) submitted per quarter

Since the introduction of the new Points Based System in December 2020, the number of applications for a Sponsor Licence has skyrocketed and the Home Office has been dealing with a huge backlog over the last 2 years. The increase in applications is certainly due to the introduction of work visa requirements for EU, EEA and Swiss nationals from 1 January 2021. As the economy continues to recover from the Coronavirus downturn, even more employers are finding they need to sponsor skilled workers from outside of the UK and need to apply for a Sponsor Licence, often in a rush. UKVI has finally been able to increase caseworking capacity and this has seen a welcome decrease in the average processing time for Sponsor Licence applications. 

How can we get a Sponsor Licence faster?

There are two options for speeding up the process of getting a Sponsor Licence:

The Home Office now offers a Priority service when applying for a Sponsor Licence. This costs an additional £500 (regardless of the size of the company) and should see the application decided in 2 weeks – significantly faster than the current average of 8 weeks. Many employers decide this is a small cost to pay to speed up the process, particularly if they need to sponsor a skilled worker as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, only a small number of Priority Service ‘slots’ are released each week, and demand far exceeds supply. Once you have submitted your application for a Sponsor Licence, you can request a Priority Service ‘slot’ via email. If successful, you will be sent a link to make payment of the £500 fee.

In 2021, approx. 22% of applications for a Sponsor Licence were rejected, refused or withdrawn, often because of missing documentation or information.

Applications that are prepared carefully and submitted with all the relevant information and documentation are often processed in less time than applications submitted with incomplete, ambiguous, or missing information and documents. It really is worth the time and effort to properly read through the Home Office guidance and submit everything in good order.

The alternative is to use a qualified immigration consultant that has extensive experience in preparing and submitting Sponsor Licence applications. This can avoid seemingly minor errors and omissions that often result in the Home Office taking weeks to reach out for clarification, delaying the application. Mistakes at this stage can also trigger a pre-licence audit of your business, which normally delays the application by several weeks or months. Read more about we can help you through this process here.

This is especially important when collating and preparing the information requested by the Home Office in Appendix A. Employers must explain why they are applying for a Sponsor Licence, with reference to who they want to sponsor if the Licence is granted. Many applications are rejected because employers answer these questions too literally, without necessarily understanding how their answers will be interpreted by the Home Office – it is crucial to have a thorough understanding of the sponsorship rules and requirements to ensure the best chance of success.

Should we apply for a Sponsor Licence now, or wait?

With processing times shorter than at any time in the last two years, now’s a great time to apply for a Sponsor Licence. 

If you need a Sponsor Licence now or are likely to need a Sponsor Licence in the next year, we would thoroughly recommend applying as soon as possible.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the Licence application process and how we can help ensure you get it right first time, get in touch now for a free initial conversation.

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