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What Does It Mean to Sponsor an Immigrant in the UK?

Sponsoring an immigrant to work in the UK means that your business can hire overseas staff for genuine and eligible employment as long as you meet your sponsor licence duties and obligations. These sponsorship responsibilities are designed to ensure that only those with the necessary permission can work in the UK. In addition to ensuring that only suitable candidates are sponsored, employers are required to meet a range of record-keeping, reporting, and employee monitoring requirements. See below for more details:

Types of Sponsorships

When it comes to sponsoring overseas workers, there are two main forms of sponsorship:

  • Workers (for skilled employment)
  • Temporary workers (for temporary employment)

If you plan to hire overseas workers for a skilled job that requires a Skilled Worker visa, Senior or Specialist Worker visa, Minister of Religion visa, or an International Sportsperson visa, you will need a Worker sponsor licence.

On the other hand, if you wish to hire a worker through the Scale-up visa, Creative Worker, Seasonal worker visa, Global Business Mobility visa, or any other temporary visa scheme, you will need a Temporary Worker sponsor licence.

Requirements to sponsor an immigrant

To sponsor an immigrant worker, you will need to meet all of the sponsor licence eligibility criteria, including:

  • Have a genuine need to sponsor overseas workers within your organisation
  • Have the necessary HR systems and processes in place to manage sponsored workers
  • Not have any unspent criminal convictions
  • Not have had a sponsor licence revoked (cancelled by the Home Office) in the last 12 months
  • Offer employment that meets the requirements of the visa scheme that your overseas candidates will be using (e.g. minimum salary and eligible job type)

There are no minimum requirements relating to the size or financial turnover of sponsoring businesses.

Responsibilities for sponsoring an immigrant

As a sponsor of overseas workers, you will be expected to fulfil a number of important responsibilities, including checking, monitoring, reporting, and recording keeping.


You must check that all immigrant workers have the necessary skills, qualifications, and professional accreditations to carry out their job in the UK. You must only assign a certificate of sponsorship (CoS) to a person who you have checked is suitable for sponsorship.


You must have in place the necessary HR systems and processes to monitor your sponsored employees, including checking their immigration status and tracking their attendance.


Any important changes must be reported to the Home Office – either relating to your business or your sponsored employees. For example, if you change your business name, or if a sponsored worker leaves your employment earlier than expected, such information must be reported. You will also need to inform the Home Office if your sponsored workers are not complying with the conditions of their visa.

Record keeping

You are required to request and retain records for all sponsored workers, including copies of passports, visas, UK right-to-work checks, and qualifications and accreditations.

Remember, you will remain responsible for the sponsorship of any overseas immigrant for the duration of the certificate of sponsorship or until the date they leave your employment. You will also need to inform the Home Office if they leave earlier than expected.

Risks of sponsoring an immigrant

As a UK business planning to sponsor overseas workers, there are a number of risks of sponsorship that you should be aware of. Firstly, having invested a large sum of money in preparing for your sponsor licence application, there is always a risk of refusal and, hence, the loss of any fees paid.

If you are successful in securing your sponsor licence and hiring overseas workers, there is an ongoing risk that your licence may be downgraded, suspended, or revoked if you do not maintain compliance with your duties and responsibilities as a sponsor. This may happen, for example, if the Home Office carry out an onsite visit and find out you have hired a worker illegally or if you are not carrying out the necessary checks or keeping the required records.

If your sponsor licence is downgraded, suspended, or revoked, you may lose the right to sponsor new workers, and your existing sponsored worker may have their visa cancelled or curtailed.

How can Reiss Edwards help?

Reiss Edwards specialises in all aspects of applying for, renewing, and retaining sponsor licences for UK businesses. Our immigration solicitors can:

  • Prepare and submit your sponsor licence application
  • Ensure your ongoing sponsor licence compliance by carrying out periodic mock audits to simulate Home Office compliance visits
  • Handle any queries raised by UKVI on your behalf
  • Handle the visa application process for your sponsored workers
  • Help restore your sponsor licence if downgraded, suspended, or revoked

For assistance with workplace sponsor licences and visas, please speak to our business immigration lawyers for a free telephone consultation on 020 3744 2797 or by email at

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