Further to our update of 3 April 2012, The UK Border Agency has issued an update with regards to the introduction of the Premium Customer Service for Sponsors in Tier 2 and Tier 5 of the Points Based System which was introduced from 06 April 2012.
The criteria that must be met is confirmed as the following:
- Must not have been issued with a civil penalty in the past three years and any previous penalties must have been paid in full;
- Be an A rated sponsor; and
- Be able to fully satisfy the UKBA that all sponsor responsibilities and systems are in place to demonstrate the ability to meet an A rated compliance audit either before or during the application process.
Please note that if you do not meet the requirements, your application will be unsuccessful and the UKBA will not refund the application fee.
Once an application for Premium Service is made, the UKBA can commence work on the renewal of your sponsor licence renewal if applicable. Please note they will require both fees to be paid in full before they proceed.
The Premium Customer Service is split into two options:
SME+ Option – This is only available to those sponsors who paid the lower licence fee for their most recent sponsor licence application. Sponsors who choose this benefit will receive the follow benefits. The cost of the SME+ option is £8,000 per annum.
The key benefits for the SME+ option is as follows:
- Pre paid checks via the online verification checking service available from Summer 2012). 25 pre-paid checks using the online service are included and thereafter will cost approximately £10 per check.
- Licence Manager facility available 7 days a week from 8 am to 6 pm. They will be available for as much support as required by the sponsor with set service standards.
Premium Option – This is available to all Tier 2 and/or 5 sponsors who meet the eligibility criteria, regardless of the size of their organisation. These sponsors are eligible for all of the benefits listed below. The cost of the Premium option is £25,000 per annum.
Key Benefits in addition to the abovementioned for the SME+ option are as follows:
- Pre paid checks on the online verification checking service (From Summer 2012) with 50 pre-paid checks using the online service and thereafter will cost approximately £10 per check.
- Licence Manager and Sponsor will forecast likely PEO usage over the coming weeks and months. These appointments will then be scheduled into the calendar for the sponsor to fill as they know which applicants will be using the service on which dates.
- Licence Manager will work with the sponsor to accommodate requests for urgent appointments additional to the forecasting, although this will mean that a required location or preferred date will be more difficult to guarantee.
- Attendance at stakeholder events with 2 events per year held by the UKBA.
- Guarantee that applicants with premium sponsors will be able to access priority visa services. In countries where invitation-only priority services exist, customers of Premium Sponsors will gain access.
- Passports sent in support of online applications made in the UK will be scanned and returned to the applicant before the decision has been made. This will mean a 24 – 48 hour turnaround of passports. Please note that for applications made outside of UK, passports will still be retained until the outcome of the UK visa application.
- Advanced checking of a potential employee’s status. Where sponsor has the consent of the employee, the Licence Manager will provide details of whether and when a potential employee is subject to the Tier 2 cooling-off period.
Please note that for both options of the Premium Customer Service, the assigned licence manager cannot do the following:
- fast track applications;
- have an application considered outside of the immigration rules; or
- arrange an allocation of restricted Certificates of Sponsorship
Premium sponsors you be assigned the support of a senior account manager. This person will be a UK Border Agency senior manager who will be available for high level discussions. They will meet with sponsors shortly after the approval of the premium service, and, where possible, attend the premium sponsor stakeholder events.