Leave this empty:

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

In some instances, employers or prospective employers will need to be licenced by the UKVI prior to being able to sponsor so they can 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.

There are two types/categories of Sponsor Licence:- a Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Licence (“ICT”) and a Tier 2 (General) Licence. An ICT Licence is 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 when the prospective migrant is being recruited on a permanent basis for the role. It is not uncommon for companies 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 operating legally in the UK. When applying 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 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 obligations and that they are fully capable of carrying them out. This will usually include ensuring 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 show it meets the requirements. Missing documents may result in an application being rejected or delayed, as well as result in additional costs being incurred.

Upon receiving the application alongside the evidentiary documents, the Home Office may opt to undertake a pre-authorisation compliance visit. UKVI compliance officers will assess your internal systems and procedures to determine granting you 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”.

The 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 most cases any such employer would need to ensure that they hold a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence. Before the prospective candidate can start working for the employer there is a specific process that each employer must undertake before they are issued their licence:-

Typically, the process will include the following:

  • The Company may need to undertake a Resident Labour Market Test (recruitment campaign);
  • Selecting and appointing their Home Office SMS “Key Personnel”;
  • Submitting the online Tier 2 Sponsor Licence application;
  • Posting the appropriate documents to the Home Office to support your Tier 2 Sponsor Licence application;
  • Participating 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 has been advertised for at least 28 days in two advertising platforms. this is 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 the recruitment process, and this can be supported by documentary evidence, the UKVI will usually be satisfied that the process has been genuine.

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 under the following circumstances:

  • The role is one that appears on the Home Office's “ Shortage Occupation List”;
  • The total salary package for the role exceeds £155,300 or above;
  • The role is one which is a PhD Level role:
  • 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 an online Sponsor Licence application looks.

Select & Appoint SMS “Key Personnel”

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

  • 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 can be appointed instead. 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 the SMS users' actions it is advisable to keep the number of Level 1 Users to its absolute minimum for effective business operation.

The 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, the justification for applying, supporting documents and the nomination of Key Personnel members.

Typically, the information required about the business includes the 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 then need to give your reasons 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 need for the remainder of the year.

The penultimate section in the application relates to the supporting documents the company will be providing. Some documents are mandatory depending on the nature of the business. but generally the documents a prospective sponsor is expected to provide are documents that 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 you will be using. you will need to physically post them to the Home Office Sponsor Licence Team within 5 days of you completing the online application.

The final part of the application requires you to provide the contact details, as well as other information, about the Key Personnel. One person can perform all three roles (Authorising Officer, Key Contact & Level 1 User) However, it is not always practical to appoint the same person to all 3 roles.

Sponsor Licence Lawyers London

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

  • Conducting an initial assessment of what systems are currently in place, as well as making recommendations on how best to structure them
  • Considering your options with regards to the most suitable sponsorship application
  • Preparing your Sponsor Licence application
  • Assisting in the collation of supporting documents
  • Conducting a full Immigration Audit
  • Training staff on compliance duties and responsibilities
  • Advising on other available options, should you decide against proceeding with the application, or if we find a better option for your case

Our team of London base Tier 2 Sponsor Licence lawyers can advise on all aspects of your application process, alongside other immigration queries. We also offer a free initial consultation/assessment over the phone, so please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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


Some of our happy clients

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.



530 Reviews