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Sponsor Licence - Sponsoring an overseas worker

To be able to employ non-European workers, employers must be licensed by the UKVI to sponsor non-EEA workers. Companies therefore looking to take advantage of high skilled workers abroad would need to apply for a UK sponsors licence to be able to recruit overseas talents.

In some instances, employers or prospective employers will need to be licenced by UKVI prior to being able to sponsor in order to be able to employ non-EEA nationals. Companies looking to take advantage of highly skilled workers based outside the UK or in some instances from within the UK would need to go through a formal application process for them to be approved as a UK sponsor licence holder to enable them to recruit the most talented individuals for their business.

There are two types/categories of Sponsor Licence, a Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Licence (“ICT”) and a Tier 2 (General) Licence. The difference between the two is essentially that an ICT Licence is to be utilised for the Transfer of existing workers (also known as “assignees”) from an overseas company affiliated or connected to a UK business (typically a parent and subsidiary company relationship). The Tier 2 (General) route is typically used where it is envisaged that the prospective migrant is being recruited on a permanent basis for the role. It is not uncommon for company can hold both categories of sponsor licence at the same time.

It is important that companies looking to apply for a sponsorship licence are genuine trading businesses that are operating legally in the United Kingdom. When applying for a sponsor Licence each company will also need to select its “Key Personnel”. These Key Personnel are named individuals who will be very important stakeholders in the licenced organisations relationship with UKVI and as such these key individuals must be not only be reliable, honest and dependable but ultimately responsible and compliance orientated individuals.

Businesses looking to apply for a sponsorship licence must also demonstrate that they know and understand their sponsorship duties and obligations and that that they are as fully capable of carrying them out. This will usually include ensuring that appropriate HR systems and procedures are in place within the organisation.

An online application would need to be completed and the company must provide supporting documents to evidence that it meets the requirements. Missing documents may result in an application being rejected or delayed and may result in additional costs being incurred.

Upon receiving the application as well as the evidentiary documents, the Home Office, in some instances may opt to undertake pre-authorisation compliance visit. UKVI compliance officers will assess your internal systems and procedures to determine whether or not to grant the sponsor licence.

If your sponsor licence application is refused, then this could have adverse implications to your business as your ability to recruit migrant workers would be hindered potentially for up to 6 months owing to the recently introduced “cooling off period”.

If you are thinking about applying for a Sponsor Licence please call our Business Immigration Team on 0203 744 2797.

Top Sponsor Licence Lawyers in London

Our Business Immigration lawyers can provide you with a full employer sponsor licence application package including the following;

  • We will be conducting an initial assessment of what systems you currently have in place as well as making recommendations on how best to structure them
  • We will also be initially considering your options; as it relates to the most suitable sponsorship application.
  • Prepare your sponsor licence application
  • Assist in the collation of supporting documents
  • Full Immigration audit
  • Training staff on compliance duties and responsibilities
  • We advice on other available options should you decide against proceeding with the sponsor licence application or if there is a better option for your particular case.

Our immigration experts boast over 30 years combined experience and have over the years assisted both large corporations and SME’s in successfully applying for a sponsor licence. Our knowledge and expertise means that your application will be handled by some of the best immigration lawyers in London and our clients are sure to get the best possible immigration and sponsorship advice; affording them a stress free sponsor license application.

Tier 2 Sponsor Licence

If an employer is looking to recruit an overseas worker, a non EEA UK graduate, or an existing sponsored worker (i.e. already employed by another business) then in the majority of cases any such employer would need to ensure that they hold a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence. Before the individual prospective candidate can start working for the employer there is specific defined process that each employer will need to undertake before they are issued with the Sponsor Licence.

Typically, the process will include the following:

  • The Company may need to undertake a Resident Labour Market Test (recruitment campaign);
  • Select and appoint their Home Office SMS “Key Personnel”;
  • Submit and Tier 2 Sponsor Licence online application;
  • Post to the Home Office appropriate documents to support your Tier 2 sponsor licence application;
  • Participate in a pre-authorisation compliance visit.

Resident Labour Market Test

In some instances, prior to applying for a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence, it may be that a prospective employer will need to undertake a Resident Labour Market Test. This primarily involves the employer in question ensuring that the role / position in question has been advertised for at least 28 days in two advertising platforms so as to afford UK based EEA residents, settled migrants and British Citizens an opportunity to apply for the role in question.

Provided that the prospective migrant worker is genuinely still the most suitably qualified candidate at the end of this particular recruitment process and this can be supported by documentary evidence then UKVI will usually be satisfied that the process has been a genuine one and that the role meets the “genuine” vacancy definition.

In some other instances it may not always be necessary for a Resident Labour Market Test to be conducted, this will usually be the case in the following circumstances:

  • The role is one that appears on the Home Office “ Shortage Occupation List”;
  • Where the total salary package for the role exceeds £155,300 or above;
  • The role is one which is a PhD Level Role
  • Where the prospective candidate is a Non -EEA UK graduate and has successfully completed a UK Bachelor’s or Master’s degree at a UK Tier 4 Academic Institution or has completed at least one year of their PhD.

Employer Sponsor Licence Application form

Below is a snapshot of how a sponsor licence online application looks like.

sponsor licence lawyers london help


Select & Appoint SMS “Key Personnel”

Before applying for a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence, the company will need to select Key personnel. Key personnel include persons that will be managing the immigration relation functions within the organisation. There are certain immigration related roles that must be fulfilled by the personnel within the company.

  • Authorising Officer
    The authorising officer is responsible for the activities of all users of the sponsorship management system (SMS). They must comply with our requirements for using the system.
  • Key Contact
    The key contact is the person who will act as the main point of contact between the Home Office and your organisation. You can only appoint a key contact who is based in the UK. If the Authorising Officer does not wish to act as the Key Contact, another person in your organisation must be appointed to this position. The key contact does not have automatic access to the sponsorship management system (SMS). If the key contact requires access to the system they will need to be set up as a level 1 or level 2 user.
  • Level 1 User
    The level 1 user is required to undertake your day-to-day sponsorship activities by using the sponsorship management system (SMS).

Based on the structure of your business and your needs, it is up to you to decide on the number of level 1 users you have. As the authorising officer is responsible for actions of users of the SMS, it is advisable to keep the number of level 1 users to the minimum necessary for effective business operation.

Tier 2 Sponsor Licence online application & supporting documentation

Once you have identified the relevant “key Personnel” the next step is to formally complete the Online Tier 2 Sponsor Licence Application. Essentially this application consists of 4 parts covering Business Information, Justification for applying, Supporting documents and nomination of Key Personnel

Typically, the information required to be provided about the business such as location, industry total number of workers and information regarding registration with HMRC.

Once you have provided the information about the business in the next section you are then required to indicate the reason why you are applying for a Sponsor Licence (e.g. business expansion, specialist knowledge or new market penetration). You will also be expected to indicate how many Unrestricted CoS’s you will require for the remainder of the year. Here at Reiss Edwards our specialist Tier 2 immigration lawyers can advise you on how may Unrestricted CoS’s you will require once we have a better understanding of your business and your recruitment plans for the upcoming year.

The penultimate section in the Tier 2 sponsor licence application relates to the supporting documents that the company will be providing as part of the application. Some documents are mandatory depending on the nature of the business but generally the documents that a prospective sponsor is expected to provide are documents that they would already be in their possession in the ordinary course of their business such as:

  • Bank Statements
  • Commercial Property Lease or Tenancy Agreement
  • VAT Certificate
  • Unaudited Account

Once you have selected the documents that you will be using to apply you need to make sure that those very same documents are to hand as you will need to physically post them to the Home Office Sponsor Licence Team within 5 days of you completing the online sponsor Licence application.

The final part of the application requires you to provide the contact details and information about the Key Personnel. One person can perform all three roles (Authorising Officer, Key Contact & Level 1 user), however, this is not always practical to appoint the same person to all 3 roles our business immigration lawyers can always advise you on the appropriateness of your selection based on your organisations individual set of circumstances.

Sponsor Licence Lawyers London

Our team of London based Tier 2 sponsor licence lawyers can advise on all aspects of your Tier 2 sponsorship application process. We offer a free initial consultation / assessment over phone, please feel free to take advantage of this service.

Call us now on 020 3744 2797 or send us an email at

Certificate of Sponsorship CoS - Frequently Asked Questions

This enquiry has been dealt with in a private email by one of our Tier 2 Sponsor license lawyers.
We can assist you with a Tier 2 visa application. The approach would depend on whether you are currently in the UK and as such are applying from inside the UK or you are applying from outside the UK. If you are in the UK, you cannot be on a visit visa and apply for a Tier 2 visa inside the country, you may need to leave to the country to make an application. I assume that we may also need to re-advertise the job - this is called the Residence Labour market test. We would need to schedule a call to discuss this in detail.

This enquiry has been dealt with in a private email by one of our Tier 2 Sponsor license lawyers.

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