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

How long does it take to get a Sponsor Licence

10 second summary:

"In January 2023, the average processing time for a Sponsor Licence application is over 10 weeks, with many applications taking much longer than this. The UKVI are still receiving large volumes of applications - nearly 23,000 in the last year! Employers can speed up the process by using the optional Home Office Priority service and ensuring they get their application right first time"

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

In January 2023, the average processing time for a Sponsor Licence application is around 10 weeks. This is a slight improvement on the previous quarter. It’s also important to note that in Q3 2022, 6,536 Sponsor Licence applications were submitted, and over 1,700 of these took longer than 10 weeks.

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 18 months. 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.

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 11 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?

Processing times may look long at the moment, but all factors point to a continuation of the current trend of high application volumes. This means processing times are unlikely to drop significantly any time soon.

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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