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    How to apply for a sponsor licence for your hotel or restaurant

    A sponsor licence is a document certifying the right of a certain company to employ qualified workers from other countries. This document allows you to send your soon-to-be employee a work approval that can be used as a basis for issuing a Skilled Worker visa. While there’s no labour shortage in the UK hospitality industry according to the actual Home Office’s Shortage Occupation List, all workers need to score only 70 points to become eligible for employment in the country. That means you can utilise this mechanism to hire qualified staff for your hotel or restaurant.

    Why do companies keep hiring people from abroad?

    With a deficit of qualified local staff, the hospitality industry in the UK has been searching for suitable workers abroad for a while now. The situation has remained the same to this day, and many hotels and restaurants look for migrant employees to fill various occupations that require any special skills or experience. The main reason behind it is that there are still not enough funds being poured into training such specialists. It means that UK companies will continue these efforts to attract qualified employees from abroad in the coming years.

    Who can apply for a sponsor licence?

    To receive a sponsor licence, you need a real company that works legally in the country. The government will carefully check what your business actually does and who you are planning to employ.

    Your company has to meet the following criteria:

    • No current convictions for migration crimes.
    • No record of failing your sponsorship duties.
    • Real employment prospects that match the skill requirements and wage.
    • A special employee that can be appointed as an Authorising Officer. This employee will be responsible for managing all issues related to sponsor licences.

    If you are not sure whether your company complies with these requirements, our specialists would be happy to analyse the situation and help you.

    Wage limits and occupational codes

    This migration mechanism has lower limits for wages: you can’t pay your foreign employees less than £25,600 annually or £10.10 hourly, or the ‘going rate’ for the specific job, whichever is highest. However, you can pay less in certain situations: for example, you can pay only 70% of the worker’s going rate if they are under 26 on the application date. You’re also allowed to pay just 70% if your employee is working towards a certain qualification in a listed regulated profession.

    To attract foreign workers, your vacancy must be listed among the official “occupation codes”, set out by the Office for National Statistics. Please be advised that any code you choose to describe a certain job can affect its eligibility for sponsorship and determine the minimum wage.

    Under the Skilled Worker route, there are several roles in the hospitality sector that may be eligible for sponsorship by a licensed employer. These include:


    Role Examples Occupation Code
    Chef Chef-manager, head chef, pastry chef 5434
    Catering/bar manager Bar manager, catering manager, floor manager (restaurant), kitchen manager 5436
    Restaurant/catering manager Cafe owner, operations manager (catering), restaurant manager 1223
    Hotel/accommodation manager Hotel manager, landlady (boarding, guest, lodging house) 1221
    Waiter/waitress Head waiter, silver service waiter, steward (catering), waiter, waitress 9273

    For a full list of “occupational codes”, click here.

    How much does it cost?

    The official fee for receiving a sponsor licence depends on the size of your company. The fee for small companies is currently £536, and the fee for large companies is £1,476.

    Once you obtain a licence, you need to send a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to all of your soon-to-be foreign employees. Each Certificate of Sponsorship costs £199.

    Don’t forget about the Immigration Skills Charge: prepare to pay £364 per year per qualified employee if your firm is small and £1,000 per year if your company is considered large.

    How long does it take to get a licence?

    An application usually takes up to 8 weeks to process, but it can take a bit longer in case the Home Office is too busy or your application has some doubtful points.

    How can our experts help?

    We know the smallest nuances of the UK immigration system, specialising in assisting companies with hiring qualified employees from abroad. We can help your firm in the process of getting a sponsor licence and establishing a legal and efficient hiring system.

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