Severe Delays in Processing Sponsor Licence Applications by the UKBA holding back Growth

Published on October 18, 2012

Severe delays in processing Sponsor Licence applications by the UKBA holding back growth Businesses in the UK who are looking to sponsor individuals under the Tier 2 & 5 categories are facing excessive delays in getting their Sponsor Licence applications approved.

Hudson McKenzie’s Business immigration team represents businesses from all sectors of the UK economy and we have reached out to our clients to gauge the repercussions of these delays. Undoubtedly, it is a unanimous vote that severe delays on part of the UKBA are currently holding back growth in the UK economy.

This essentially means that employers cannot sponsor individuals in a timely manner. We understand this is frustrating for many employers and we have been following up with the UKBA regularly for several of our clients. We may excuse the UKBA’s lengthy timescales due to the Olympics on the basis that many of their staff members had been assisting with processing queues of visitors at the UK airports. However, now that the event is over, we would expect them to get back to work. Unfortunately, there is no indication that processing times will be reduced in the near future.

Urgent Requests

The UKBA continue to advise that they will process applications in strict date order; however consideration for processing an application out of turn may be made, only if it meets the criteria set out below.

A migrant currently employed by the prospective sponsor or switching to the prospective sponsor, who has valid leave expiring in 10 working days (or has an urgent need to change their leave status within 10 working days). Ideally the company should provide evidence of expiry of leave in their email. E.g. a scanned copy of the relevant vignette / Biometric Residence Permit.

Applications more than 4 weeks old which have a Resident Labour Market Test expiring in the next 6 weeks.

Applications more than 4 weeks old where there is an urgent business need for a licence within the next 10 working days, for which justification must be provided. Such requests will be considered on a case by case basis and there is no guarantee that the application will be looked at out of turn. At a time when the UK is going through recession, the last thing businesses would expect to see is them being held back with administrative delays partly due to shortages in staff. If a business is unable to sponsor a key individual in a timely manner, it can cause serious set-backs to growth plans and lead to businesses losing opportunities.

On one hand Damian Green, the UK Immigration Minister has stated:-

“The UK remains open for business… Entrepreneurs and investors can play a major part in our economic recovery and I want to do everything I can to ensure that Britain remains an attractive destination for them”.

But it seems that these are just fallacious statements. If the UK government was serious in encouraging businesses to expand in the UK and attracting new businesses to the UK, they wouldn’t be delaying Sponsor Licence applications, which is causing losses to businesses to the tune of several million pounds. It is high time the UKBA pulls up their socks and start staffing the Sponsor Licence Unit appropriately.

The Author

Rahul Batra is the Director and Head of Department at Hudson McKenzie. Rahul Batra can be reached at