A sponsor licence (previously known as a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence) is required by any UK employer planning to employ workers from overseas.
Contact our immigration lawyers for a free telephone consultation on 020 3744 2797 or complete our enquiry form to discuss your sponsor licence application.
A sponsor licence (Tier 2 Sponsor Licence) is required by any UK employer planning to employ workers from overseas. With a sponsor licence, UK based businesses are able to issue Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) to eligible international workers coming to the UK on a work visa (e.g. Skilled Worker visa). As such, sponsor licences offer a valuable way to ensure that UK based businesses can recruit the staff they need from another country where needed. Sponsor licences are also required by educational establishments, including universities with international students.
The sponsor licence application process is strict, and keeping your Sponsor Licence requires committing to a rigorous compliance regime. Sponsor licence compliance involves ensuring that your HR processes and procedures run smoothly and effectively in accordance with the Home Office’s requirements.
Sponsor licences are issued for a period of 4 years, at which point employers need to apply for renewal.
In order to be eligible for a sponsorship licence, the applying organisation must meet the following requirements:
Businesses applying for a sponsor licence must be genuine and legally operating in the UK as a PLC, LTD, LLP or Sole Trader. They must also hold the appropriate planning permission or the Local Planning Authority's consent for the type of business operated at the trading address.
As part of the sponsor licence application process, businesses need to show that they do not have unspent criminal convictions for previous immigration offences. They also need to satisfy the Home Office that they do not have any unspent convictions relating to crimes such as fraud or money laundering or have had a sponsor licence revoked in the last year. In addition, the Home Office must be satisfied that the Key Personnel named on the sponsor licence application are honest, dependable, and reliable. Key personnel refers to authorised officers and key contacts who will manage the sponsorship process.
The Home Office must also be satisfied that the company requesting the sponsor licence is not only aware but is also capable of carrying out its sponsorship duties. In practical terms, meeting your sponsorship duties means that you must have a system and processes in place within your business to:
Under the current system, there is now no longer a requirement to carry out a Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) to check if a local worker is available to perform the job before it is offered to an overseas worker.
There are two main types of sponsor licence available: worker licence and temporary worker licence. Businesses applying for a sponsor licence must specify which type they need when submitting their application and only recruit international staff for the type of licence they are granted.
A “Worker” licence is granted to employers who need to employ skilled international workers on a short time, long-term or permanent basis. Worker licences are available for a number of specific categories, including:
As part of the application process, businesses must specify which category of worker licence they require. Depending on your needs and eligibility, you can apply for multiple subcategories of worker licences.
A “Temporary Worker” licence allows UK based employers to hire international staff on a short-term temporary basis, including volunteers. Temporary workers are available for several categories of workers as follows:
As part of the application process, businesses must specify which category of temporary worker licence they require. Depending on your needs and eligibility, you can apply for multiple subcategories of temporary worker licences.
To become a sponsor, a business needs to complete a number of steps, as follows:
The Home Office publishes specific sponsor licence guidance outlining all of the possible documents that UK sponsor licence applicants may be required to submit2. In most cases, you will be asked to submit a minimum of 4 documents. The sponsor licence guidance states you may not need to send 4 documents if you are a public body recognised by the UK Government, such as a local authority or a company listed on the London Stock Exchange Main Market.
Depending on your business and the type of licence you require, you may be asked to submit some or all of the following documents (please note this list is not exhaustive and is only a small sample of the possible documents you may be asked to provide):
The sponsor licence application fees are as follows:
Type of licence
Small or charitable sponsors
Medium or large sponsors
Temporary Worker licence
Worker and Temporary Worker licence
Adding a Worker licence to an existing Temporary Worker licence
Adding a Temporary Worker licence to an existing Worker licence
To be classed as a small or charitable sponsor, your business must meet at least two of the following criteria:
For more information about the cost, please see our article: UK Work Visa Sponsorship Costs for Employers
A sponsor licence number is a unique reference number included on a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) used by an overseas worker when applying for a work visa. A CoS is an electronic document containing important information about the job offer, including the type of job and the duration of the employment.
A nominated person within your organisation can apply for CoS using the Sponsorship Management System (SMS). If approved by the Home Office (typically within 1 day), the CoS can then be issued to the overseas Worker to prove they have been offered a job, which they can then use to apply for a work visa.
A CoS costs between £21 and £199 depending on the type of licence held.
There are several reasons why a sponsor licence may be refused, including:
1 GOV.UK: Online application for Sponsor licence
2 GOV.UK: Supporting documents for sponsor licence
"Andy Tieu is absolutely amazing, as a lawyer myself I can categorically say tha...Read More
"I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this profes...Read More
"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was ou...Read More
"Professional service. I was very impressed with the fact that my ILR applicatio...Read More