Navigating the UK Sponsorship Licence Process for Skilled Workers

Employing Skilled Workers

Before initiating the application process for a UK Sponsorship Licence, it’s essential to ascertain eligibility. Certain categories of individuals, such as Irish citizens, those with settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, and individuals with indefinite leave to remain in the UK, are exempt from the sponsorship requirement. However, understanding the nuances of these exemptions is crucial, as exceptions may apply in specific situations, and compliance with the UK immigration laws remains paramount. Consult with our expert London immigration Solicitors at DJF to assess whether your business is eligible and whether any exemptions apply.

Application Process

  1. Check Business Eligibility: The initial step involves a thorough examination of the business’s eligibility. Ensuring a clean record with no unspent criminal convictions related to immigration offenses or certain other crimes is fundamental. Additionally, a sponsor licence cannot be obtained if the business has had a licence revoked within the last 12 months. This emphasises the importance of maintaining a high standard of compliance with immigration regulations.
  2. Job Suitability Check: The job offered must meet certain criteria to be deemed suitable for sponsorship. This includes adherence to the UK minimum wage and working time regulations. Delving deeper into these requirements is essential to guarantee that the job aligns with the stipulated standards and guidelines.
  3. Select Licence Type: The selection of the appropriate licence type is a pivotal decision in the application process. Understanding the distinctions between the various licence categories, such as Skilled Worker, Temporary Worker, and others, is essential. Each category has specific requirements and implications, and choosing the right fit for the intended employment is critical.
  4. Sponsorship Management: Identifying and assigning roles for sponsorship management is an integral part of the process. The roles of the authorising officer, key contact, and level 1 user are crucial, and a clear understanding of their respective responsibilities ensures smooth operation throughout the sponsorship period.
  5. Online Application: The online application marks a significant milestone in the process. The submission of accurate information, supported by necessary documentation, is vital. Furthermore, businesses need to be prepared for the possibility of a visit from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) officials to verify the suitability of the business for sponsorship. Being well-prepared for such visits is instrumental in avoiding delays or complications in the application process.

Job Suitability Criteria

A granular understanding of the job suitability criteria is necessary. This involves delving into the specifics of complying with UK minimum wage and working time regulations. Different worker categories have nuanced requirements, and meticulous adherence to these criteria is vital to ensure that the job is indeed suitable for sponsorship.

Certain worker categories, such as religious and creative workers, entail specific additional requirements. For example, religious workers may need to adhere to advertising requirements for certain positions, while creative workers must comply with industry codes of practice or shortage occupation lists. Understanding and fulfilling these additional requirements are essential for a smooth sponsorship process. Our qualified UK Sponsor Licence Solicitors can advise you regarding requirements for the various workers.

Suitability Checks

Conducting suitability checks on individuals involved in the sponsorship process is a critical aspect of maintaining integrity and compliance. These checks include scrutinising unspent criminal convictions for relevant offenses, ensuring fines by UKVI in the past 12 months are not present, and verifying compliance with sponsor requirements. A rigorous approach to these checks contributes to a robust and reliable sponsorship process.

Types of Licences

Distinguishing between ‘Workers’ and ‘Temporary Workers’ licences is crucial. Understanding the nuances of each category, including Skilled Worker, Senior or Specialist Worker (Global Business Mobility), Minister of Religion, and International Sportsperson under Worker licences, and various categories like Scale-up Worker, Creative Worker, Charity Worker, Religious Worker, and others under Temporary Worker licences, is paramount for accurate application and compliance.

Worker Licence Categories:

  • Skilled Worker
  • Senior or Specialist Worker (Global Business Mobility)
  • Minister of Religion
  • International Sportsperson

Temporary Worker Licence Categories:

  • Scale-up Worker
  • Creative Worker
  • Charity Worker
  • Religious Worker
  • Government Authorised Exchange
  • International Agreement
  • Graduate Trainee (Global Business Mobility)
  • Service Supplier (Global Business Mobility)
  • UK Expansion Worker (Global Business Mobility)
  • Secondment Worker (Global Business Mobility)
  • Seasonal Worker

Sponsoring Under-18s

Special care arrangements are mandated for foreign workers under 18. This involves considerations such as suitable travel, arrival, and living arrangements. Obtaining consent letters from parents and conducting Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks are mandatory steps in ensuring the well-being and legal compliance when sponsoring individuals in this age group.

Sponsorship Management Roles

Assigning and understanding the roles of the authorising officer, key contact, and level 1 user within the organisation is crucial. This ensures that the responsibilities associated with each role are effectively managed, leading to a streamlined sponsorship process and compliance with regulatory obligations. Contact DJF Solicitors for further information on the roles of each key personnel.

HR Contractors and Agency Staff

The involvement of third-party HR service providers and the appointment of additional users from these entities require careful consideration. Ensuring that at least one level 1 user is an employee, partner, or director within the organisation is a specific requirement. Clarifying the roles and responsibilities of third-party entities in the sponsorship process is essential for a cohesive and compliant system.

Licence Fees

Understanding the fee structures based on the type and size of the organisation is crucial for financial planning. The differentiation between small or charitable sponsors and medium or large sponsors in terms of fee amounts for Worker and Temporary Worker licences is vital information.

Worker Licence Fee:

  • Small or charitable sponsors: £536
  • Medium or large sponsors: £1,476

Temporary Worker Licence Fee:

  • Small or charitable sponsors: £536
  • Medium or large sponsors: £536

Combination of Worker and Temporary Worker Licence Fee:

  • Small or charitable sponsors: £536
  • Medium or large sponsors: £1,476

Determining Small or Charitable Sponsor Status

The criteria for being classified as a small sponsor, including an annual turnover of £10.2 million or less, total assets worth £5.1 million or less, and 50 employees or fewer, should be thoroughly understood. This determination influences the applicable fee structure and is a key factor in financial planning for the sponsorship process.

Immigration Skills Charge

For certain visas, an additional immigration skills charge may apply. Understanding the exemptions to this charge for specific occupations or workers assigned certificates before April 6, 2017, is crucial. This additional cost factor should be factored into the overall financial considerations of the sponsorship process.

Processing Time and Expedited Service

Understanding the expected processing time and the availability of expedited services is vital for effective planning. While most applications are processed in less than 8 weeks, the option for expedited service, albeit at an extra cost, provides a quicker decision within 10 working days. Businesses must weigh the urgency of their hiring needs against the additional cost when considering this option.


Post-application, successful applicants are granted a licence rating. This rating is the gateway to issuing certificates of sponsorship for eligible jobs. Understanding the responsibilities that come with the licence, the duration of validity (typically four years), and the potential consequences of non-compliance is crucial for effective licence management.

Licence Ratings

A successful application results in the issuance of an A-rated licence. This rating is the gateway to commencing the issuance of certificates of sponsorship and listing the business in the register of sponsors. Understanding the implications and advantages of the A-rated licence is essential for businesses to leverage their sponsorship status effectively.

Speak with our expert London Sponsorship Licence Solicitors regarding the different ratings and what these mean for your business, using the contact form.

Responsibilities and Monitoring

The ongoing responsibilities of sponsors extend beyond the initial application phase. Ensuring that workers possess the necessary skills, comply with visa conditions, and adhere to UK employment laws is an ongoing obligation. Implementing robust monitoring systems to track immigration status, attendance, and right-to-work checks is crucial for maintaining compliance and addressing issues promptly.

Mock Post-licence Compliance Interviews

Our expert immigration Solicitors can conduct mock post-licence compliance interviews with the authorising officer, key contact, Level 1 user and/or migrant workers in line with Appendix D. This ensures the relevant personnel and migrant workers of your business are prepared for random checks the Home Office may carry out throughout the period of your Licence.

Reporting Changes

Business circumstances are subject to change, and sponsors are required to report significant changes within 20 working days. This includes instances such as business closures, mergers, or changes that affect relationships with overseas businesses. A proactive approach to reporting changes ensures that the sponsor remains in compliance with regulatory requirements and avoids potential penalties.

Refusal Review

In the event of an application refusal, understanding the grounds for refusal and the process for requesting a review is crucial. Having a clear grasp of the specific grounds, such as caseworker error or overlooked supporting documents, empowers businesses to navigate the review process effectively and seek a favourable outcome. If you have received a refusal on your UK Sponsorship Licence application, contact our expert London Immigration Solicitors for detailed legal advice regarding the refusal and the next steps.

Refunds and Administrative Reviews

Comprehending the conditions under which refunds are available for refused or withdrawn visa applications is crucial for financial management. Additionally, being aware of the process and grounds for initiating an administrative review in case of refusal allows businesses to contest decisions that they believe are unjust or based on errors.


Successfully navigating the UK Sponsorship Licence process demands a meticulous and comprehensive approach. The detailed understanding of each step, from initial eligibility checks to ongoing responsibilities, is vital for businesses seeking to bring in skilled workers from outside the UK. Compliance with regulations, effective management of roles and responsibilities, and a commitment to ongoing monitoring and reporting are key elements in not only obtaining but also maintaining a sponsor licence. This process is not merely a legal obligation but a strategic investment in attracting and retaining a diverse and skilled workforce, contributing to the growth and dynamism of the UK business landscape.

UK Business Sponsor Licence Solicitors

At DJF Solicitors, our London immigration lawyers have extensive experience in preparing Sponsor Licence applications for businesses/employers regardless of whether the employer is a start up or large enterprise. Our immigration team can offer the following services:

  • Consultation with an experienced business immigration solicitor who can advise on the eligibility criteria of a Sponsor Licence application;
  • Provide the business/company with a bespoke supporting documents list which will assist in collating documents required for the Sponsor Licence application;
  • Prepare the relevant application form and detailed legal representations to accompany the application; and
  • If necessary liaise with the Home Office to track the progress of the application.

Preparation is the key to successful immigration applications. Our UK immigration and visa solicitors are here to guide you through the complex immigration rules and requirements. If you wish to meet one of our lawyers, please call our Immigration Team so we can assess your case and arrange your legal consultation to discuss your visa application.

Contact Us

For professional guidance and assistance with your application, contact our immigration solicitors on 02030110276 or complete our contact form.

Call Now Button search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close