We’d like to fast-track our Sponsorship Licence with the Priority Service – what does our organisation need to know?

If you’re an employer looking to recruit workers from outside the UK and Ireland, you’ll now need a UK Sponsorship Licence. With labour shortages directly impacting the bottom line for many UK sectors in 2022, speed is often a crucial factor when recruiting from abroad. So, is it worth considering the priority service when you apply for a UK Sponsorship Licence?

How long does it usually take to get a Sponsorship Licence?

Applications for Sponsor Licences have sky-rocketed in the last few years, with demand up by 178% in Q2 of 2021 compared with 2019. This has resulted in considerably longer processing times. As a result, the Home Office’s pre-licence priority service an attractive option for many UK employers.

Some key figures on processing times for Sponsorship Licence applications:

8 weeks – the standard minimum processing time for sponsorship licence applications

883 days – the longest processing time for a licence application in 2021 (up from 246 days in 2019)

2,202 applicants – the number of sponsor licence applicants waiting longer than average in 2021 Q2 (from 335 for 2019)

With the trend in sponsorship application times set to continue, it’s not surprising that many employers are eager to speed up the process.

What is the priority service for Sponsor Licences?

Introduced in November 2020 by the Home Office, the ‘pre-licence priority service’ offers expedited processing of Sponsorship Licence requests. Crucially, it promises a decision on your application within 10 days. However, the gov.uk website is keen to stress that applying for the priority service will not influence the outcome of your application. It simply speeds up the process.

Am I eligible?

To be eligible, you need to have already submitted your application for a Sponsorship Licence. This is something our experienced lawyers can help you with. Your Sponsorship Licence request must not yet be allocated to a Home Office caseworker. With this in mind, we recommend you act fast if you wish to secure priority service allocation.

The really key thing here is that your organisation’s application meets the eligibility criteria for the Sponsorship Licence itself. Therefore, you must ensure both your Sponsor Licence submission and priority service request are fully compliant with Home Office requirements.

Sounds good, how do I apply?

Once your Sponsorship Licence application is accepted for processing, you will receive an email offering the option of applying for the Priority Service.

While in theory the application process for priority service processing is straightforward – you simply complete the priority service request form and submit it to the Pre-Licence Priority Service – in practice it can be a slog, with some applicants likening the process to a lottery.

Why? The Home Office green-lights only a maximum of 10 priority service requests daily, meaning competition for expedited processing is fierce. The system is opaque, and many applicants try to get their requests into the Home Office inbox first at 9am. So, you could say a little like the UKVI equivalent of securing Glastonbury tickets.

We often hear that multiple requests for priority service processing have been met with silence from the Home Office. With many years’ experience liaising with UKVI and preparing successful applications, we work with organisations to ensure their priority service request has the highest chance of approval.

The bottom linethe Sponsor Licence priority service

To take advantage of the priority service, your organisation’s Sponsorship Licence application must be fully compliant. You also need to take the correct steps to ensure your Sponsor Licence Priority Service request is eligible for approval.

Our Sponsor Licence lawyers are experts in this area and can support your organisation with its Pre-Licence Priority Service application. To schedule a no-obligation chat, leave your details on this page.