UK Sponsorship Licence Application

As per UK Immigration laws, any company or business planning to employ skilled foreign workers has to apply for a Sponsorship License. The rule will also apply for companies planning to employ citizens of Switzerland or no European Economic Area, EEA, for coming to the United Kingdom for work from January 1, 2021. An education provider planning to sponsor foreign students for coming to the UK for study purposes also requires a Sponsor License.

Sponsor Licenses issued to UK companies can either be for a Tier-2 sponsorship or Tier-5 sponsorship depending on the kind of employment for which the foreign worker is to be hired. The applicant organisations are required to complete certain duties both during the employment duration as well as before employing foreign workers. The application process requires the business to provide proof that it is a legitimate one and requires the services of a talented migrant. Also, the applicant company has to be represented by a senior executive while applying for a Sponsor License. The representative cannot be a shareholder of the company but can be an executive member. can help you in the process of applying for a Sponsor License alongside providing you Tier 2 and Tier 5 Sponsor License guidance. Do get in touch with us at ---------- number or send an email to -----------------------.

Eligibility for Applying for a Sponsor License

The Sponsor License application process involves submission of a lot of information about the applicant organisation alongside proving that the employment of a foreign worker is essential. The eligibility conditions for applying for a Sponsor License in the United Kingdom require:

  • That the employer needs to have no unspent criminal convictions arising due to immigration related offences and crimes.
  • The employer needs to have a history of carrying out his sponsorship duties diligently.

In addition to these two requirements, the employers need to have systems in place to monitor their sponsored employees.

The UK authorities will visit the applicant’s business to verify whether they are capable of carrying out their duties. If the application is successful, the authorities issue a license rating for four years to the applicant employer. The organisation whose application for a Sponsor License is accepted has to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship to every foreign employee. The employer is also required to perform several duties and fulfil certain responsibilities.

Types of Sponsor Licenses in the UK

The UK authorities accept applications for Sponsor Licenses in two categories: Tier 2 Sponsor Licenses are for workers who are employed long term and Tier 5 Sponsor Licenses are for temporary workers. The Tier 2 Sponsor Licenses are sought for sponsoring people in the general, sportsperson, minister of religion and intra-company transfer visa categories. The Tier 5 Sponsor License is for employing skilled workers on a temporary basis. The Tier 5 visas are issued to:

  • Workers in a creative field or a sporting field for one to two years
  • Charity workers for up to one year
  • Religious workers for up to two years
  • Workers employed for work that is carried out and covered under International law
  • Workers under the government authorised exchange category

Residence Labour Market Test

The licensed sponsors in the UK are required to mandatorily advertise for a job which is not part of the UK’s shortage occupation list. The requirement is called the Residence Labour Market Test and is mandatory for:

  • Tier 2 - General jobs
  • Tier 2 - Minister of Religion 
  • Tier 5 - Religious workers jobs (unless they are a non-essential position or involve living within a religious order)
  • Tier 5 - Jobs for the creative field or a sporting field

The employers have to release a minimum of two advertisements over a minimum period of 28 days. They also have to convince the UKVI that they were not able to find a suitable employee for the positions they advertised and need to employ a worker from another country.

Cost of Getting a Sponsor License

When you apply for a Sponsor License you have to fill the Appendix A form. The fee for this license depends on whether the applicant is a small or a charitable company, or a medium or large firm. The Tier 2 Sponsorship License cost is £536 for small and charitable sponsors and £1,476 for medium and large firms. The application fee for Tier 5 visas is £536 irrespective of the size of the applicant organisation.

Applicants for a Sponsor License for Tier 2 and 5 visas have to pay a fee of £536 if they fall in the small and charitable category, and £1,476 if they fall in the category of medium or large. There is no fee if the applicant firms seek to add Tier 2 to an existing Tier 5 visa.

Management of the Sponsorship Process

Every business applying for a Sponsorship License has to appoint specific people from within the business to partake in the process of applying for a license. This is essential for the smooth completion of the whole process. The sponsorship management system (SMS) of a business must comprise of:

  • A key person who is the main contact person with the UK Visas and Immigration department.
  • An authorising officer who takes responsibility for the actions of the company's staff members and representatives.
  • A level 1 user who will take the responsibility for daily management of the license.

While all the three roles can be performed by one person, the rules outline that the level 1 user has to compulsorily be the company's employee whilst the other roles can be performed by people employed from other organisations. Certain checks will be conducted for all the people who are a part of the sponsorship management system, including unspent criminal convictions.

Suitability Checks for the Sponsorship Management Team

Certain suitability checks are carried out to ensure that the chosen sponsorship management team is appropriate. People involved in the sponsorship team must not have:

  • An unspent criminal conviction
  • Been fined by the UK Visa and Immigration authorities in the last 12 months
  • Been reported to the visa and immigration authorities
  • Have broken the law
  • Been a key person of a sponsor whose license had to be revoked in the past 12 months
  • Failed to pay any kind of excise duty or VAT

Other requirements for the sponsorship management team include:

  • They must be based in the United Kingdom most of the time
  • They must not be contracted for a specific project
  • They must not be subject to a bankruptcy restriction or debt relief restriction order or undertaking
  • They must not have a history of failure to comply with the sponsor requirements

Documents Required for Applying for a Sponsor License

The application for a Sponsor License has to be accompanied by certain documents in support of your eligibility. The documents vary from one business to another depending on its nature and the type of vacancy that they wish to fill. A licensed sponsor for the UK who wishes to hire people in the field of sports will require the submission of a document endorsed by a sports body.

All the required documents have to be submitted within five days of the application made online. The documents have to be submitted in their original form, but in some cases certified documents will also be accepted. The experts at can help you ensure that the right documents are submitted along with your application.

Sponsor License Rating

Businesses whose Sponsor License applications are approved get an A-rated license rating alongside a listing in the register of sponsors. The same rating can, however, be downgraded to B if a business fails to meet its duties as a sponsor. In such a scenario, the UKVI provides an action plan, adherence to which allows a business to get its license rating upgraded back to A. The cost of this action plan is £1,476. A business cannot issue any new certificates of sponsorship if it has a B rating. It will need to make the recommended changes and get its rating upgraded to A before issuance of new certificates of sponsorship.

A business can only get two B ratings during the four-year validity of the Sponsor License. A business can lose its license if it requires more improvements even after the implementation of a second business plan suggested by the authorities.

Responsibilities of a Company Having a Sponsor License

The employers who have received a Sponsor License from the UKVI have to fulfil certain responsibilities before and during the employment of foreign workers.

  • They have to first advertise a job for a minimum of 28 days prior to seeking a foreign worker. The job must not be a part of the shortage-occupation list.
  • They have to ensure that the chosen foreign workers are qualified and have the essential skills for the chosen role.
  • They have to ensure that certificates of sponsorship are only issued to workers who are fit for a particular job.
  • They have to inform the UKVI if an employee is not adhering to their visa terms.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Steps Involved in Getting a Sponsor License?

If you wish to apply for a Sponsor License, you need to complete the following steps:

  • Check the eligibility of your business.
  • Decide the type of license you need, keeping in mind the type of workers you wish to employ.
  • Form a sponsorship management team.
  • Apply online and pay the fee.

How Do I Know If I Fall in the Category of a Small Business?

A business is considered small if its annual turnover is £10.2 million or less and it employs a maximum of 50 employees.

What is a Sponsor License Number?

The Sponsor License number refers to the unique code or reference number of the companies whose application for a Sponsor License have been accepted.

When Do I Need to Apply for a Sponsor License?

An organisation needs to apply for a Sponsor License if it wishes to employ foreign workers on a temporary or long term basis through the Tier 2 Work visa route or a tier 5 temporary work visa route. You do not need to apply for a Sponsor License if you are employing a person under the Tier 1 visa.

What Requirements Do I Need to Complete for Applying for a Sponsor License?

If you wish to apply for a Sponsor License you need to ensure:

  • Your business or organisation is genuine.
  • Your business is legally operational in the United Kingdom.
  • Your company or staff do not pose any kind of threat to the UK immigration control. This means none of the staff members have a history of violating laws.
  • You are able to set up a sponsor management system.
  • You can maintain HR systems and records in an organised manner.
  • You will be able to produce all the essential documents for your license sponsor application.
  • You meet all the essential requirements.

My Sponsor License Application Has Been Approved. What Now?

The UK Home Office will issue an A License rating to your business if your Sponsorship License application for a Sponsor License is successful. The name of your company or business will be placed in the UK Sponsorship License register. This approval allows you to issue Certificates of Sponsorship to non-EEA nationals or nationals of Switzerland who can then use it for applying for a Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa category.

The license is valid for four years, but can be suspended or revoked if you do not fulfil your responsibilities. The Home Office can also levy a civil penalty for failure to fulfil your responsibilities.

What are the Possible Reasons for the Refusal of My Sponsor License Application?

The UK Home Office can reject your Sponsor License applications on several grounds:

  • Your business does not pass the Compliance audit carried out by the Home Office.
  • You were not able to provide sufficient documents.
  • You did not inform the Home Office of any significant changes to your migrant employee base.
  • You have not responded to the queries put forth by the UK Home Office on time.
  • Your business is not considered genuine.
  • Your business does not comply with the security standards set out by the Home Office.

I Believe My Application Was Rejected Because of a Mistake in Filing. Can I Correct It?

Yes, you can apply for correction of a mistake in your application if you applied on or after April 1, 2016. However, the mistake has to either be in the form of non-consideration of your supporting documents or a mistake by the person processing your application. A disagreement with the Home Office’s decision does not allow you to apply for a correction. You do not have the option to appeal against the Home Office’s decision but you can reapply after a certain period.

Is It Mandatory for Me to Inform the UKVI of Any Changes in My Organisation?

Yes, it is mandatory to inform the UKVI about any significant changes in your business or organisation. This information needs to be provided within 20 days of the changes taking place. The failure to do so can affect your Sponsor License rating. Significant changes refer to:

  • Insolvency or no trading
  • A substantial change in the nature of the business
  • A merger or a takeover

Other changes such as a change in the address of your business or change in the allocation of roles can be communicated via the sponsorship management system.

How Can Help Me?

The team of immigration experts at can help you with the whole process of applying for a Sponsor License application alongside providing Tier 2 and Tier 5 guidance. We can help you check the eligibility of your business and ensure that your employee records and HR documents are up-to-date. Our experts can also ensure that you complete all the required formalities including the Resident Labour Market Test as well as ensuring that your form is submitted along with the right supporting documents. We can also liaison with the Home Office on the status of your application. Our team is well versed with the UK immigration laws and the recent changes and can guide you about all kinds of immigration issues. 

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