UK Business Sponsor Licence

Sponsorship License For Employers

In order to employ an overseas national, it is necessary to obtain a sponsor licence regardless of the duration of their employment. This licence may also be required if an overseas volunteer is invited to work for a charity fund. Sponsorship licences in the UK are granted by the Home Office, which is the British immigration service. When registering and applying for a sponsor licence, it is important to keep in mind two things: hiring an experienced immigration advisor who can provide consultations and act as a legal representative before the Home Office, and ensuring that the company meets all the necessary requirements, including being registered and operating in the UK, being a reliable sponsor, having a clean immigration and criminal record, and not having lost a sponsorship licence before due to violating immigration requirements.

Choosing The Correct Type Of Sponsorship License

The type of sponsor licence required is dependent on the category of overseas workers intended for employment, which is determined by the necessary documents for their entry into the UK. Long-term work visas are granted to qualified migrant workers seeking permanent employment in the UK, including Skilled Worker visa holders for intra-company transfers, sportspeople, and religious ministers. Temporary visas are issued to bring qualified migrant workers to the UK for a specific duration, such as seasonal work or internships, charity work, tours, competitions, or conferences. Sponsorship licences can permit the invitation of migrant workers from either or both visa categories, and employers are required to provide comprehensive assistance to invited workers. Employers must also pay migrant employees the minimum salary for their position, while the invited worker must demonstrate sufficient experience and qualifications. Finally, the employer must inform the Home Office of how they found the employee, who is then provided with a certificate of sponsorship.

Sponsorship Management System (“SMS”)

To obtain approval for your application in the UK, it is necessary to have designated individuals in your business fulfilling the necessary management roles. In order to effectively manage the sponsorship system, the following specialists are required: an authorising officer who oversees personnel, key contacts, and representatives; a key contact who serves as the primary liaison with the Home Office; and a level 1 user who directly manages the issued licence and has the ability to grant or revoke sponsorship certificates. It is possible for a company to have multiple level 1 users as well as level 2 users, who have limited access to the sponsorship management system. These functions can be performed by different employees or the same individual, but the company must have at least one designated level 1 user.

The Home Office mandates that all employees responsible for managing the sponsorship system must be qualified for their respective positions. This includes spending the majority of the year in the UK, possessing relevant expertise, having no criminal or immigration violations, and having no outstanding tax debts. Additionally, such individuals cannot be majority shareholders of a company whose sponsorship licence was revoked in the past 12 months.

Application Procedure For Sponsorship License:

Step 1: Determine Your Eligibility

The first step to applying for a Sponsorship License is to determine if your organisation is eligible to apply. To be eligible, your organisation must be operating lawfully in the UK and offer genuine employment that meets the skill and salary level required for the visa being sponsored. Additionally, you must have the resources and systems in place to fulfill your sponsor duties and responsibilities.

Step 2: Choose The Type Of License You Need

The next step is to choose the type of Sponsorship License you need. There are two types of licenses available: Tier 2 and Tier 5. A Tier 2 License allows you to sponsor skilled workers with job offers, while a Tier 5 License allows you to sponsor temporary workers. The type of license you need will depend on the type of workers you plan to sponsor.

Contact Lexvisa to get advice on choosing the correct license.

Step 3: Gather The Required Information

Before you can apply for a Sponsorship License, you need to gather the required information. This includes:

  • Your organisation’s name, address, and registration number.
  • Details of the nominated individuals who will act as key personnel responsible for managing the sponsorship process.
  • The type of Sponsorship License you need.
  • The number of certificates of sponsorship you require.

Step 4: Complete The Online Application

Once you have gathered the required information, you can begin your online application. The application will require you to provide the details mentioned in Step 3, along with additional information, such as:

  • Details of your organisation’s HR and recruitment processes.
  • The job roles and descriptions of the workers you plan to sponsor.
  • The salary and benefits offered to the sponsored workers.
  • Evidence of your organisation’s ability to comply with immigration laws.

Step 5: Pay The Required Fees

To become a sponsor, commercial organisations must pay a licensing fee that varies from £536 to £1,476 depending on the category of migrant workers and the size of the company. The Home Office typically takes up to eight weeks to review and approve an application, with the sponsorship licence being valid for four years. Employers have the option of renewing the licence before its expiration or paying an additional fast-track fee to obtain the sponsor licence within two weeks.

Step 6: Provide Supporting Documents

After you have paid the fees, you will need to provide supporting documents to the Home Office. These may include:

  • Your organisation’s latest accounts.
  • Your VAT registration certificate.
  • Your employer liability insurance certificate.
  • Details of your recruitment practices and employment history.

Contact Lexvisa for further information on the specific documents that will be required from you in support of your application.

Step 7: Compliance Visit

After you have submitted your application and provided the supporting documents, a Home Office representative may visit your organisation to assess your compliance with immigration rules. This is to ensure that you can fulfil your sponsor duties and responsibilities.

Sponsorship License Rating System

The UK government has a rating system for companies sponsoring overseas workers, which determines the level of responsibility and trustworthiness of the sponsor. An A-rated licence is given to companies that have demonstrated a high level of compliance with the sponsorship rules and are able to issue certificates of sponsorship to foreign nationals. On the other hand, a B-rated licence is given to companies that have failed to meet one or more of their sponsor duties, such as failing to pay the minimum salary required by law. With a B-rated licence, companies are not able to issue new certificates of sponsorship but can still renew existing work visas. If a company’s licence is downgraded to B-rating, they must contact the Home Office within 10 days to obtain a plan of action to upgrade to an A-rating. However, if a company is downgraded more than twice within a four-year period, their sponsor licence will be void. In such cases, it is difficult to obtain a new sponsor licence, and companies may face a 12-month wait before they can reapply.

Obtaining an A-rated licence is the key to issuing certificates of sponsorship and hiring foreign nationals, but if a sponsor fails to meet their responsibilities, such as not paying the required salary to migrant workers, their licence may be downgraded to B-rating. With a B-rated licence, the sponsor is not permitted to issue new certificates but can renew previously issued visas. Sponsors who have been downgraded to B-rating must contact the Home Office within 10 days to receive instructions on how to upgrade to an A-rating, otherwise their licence will be revoked.

Sponsorship License In The UK After Brexit

Since January 1, 2021, EEA and Swiss nationals are considered “foreign” and require a sponsor licence. The sponsor guarantees that they are ready to take responsibility for foreign employees and assist them in preparing the necessary documents for a visa application. To hire foreign nationals, UK-registered companies must obtain a sponsor licence and make sure their company meets the requirements. The type of sponsor licence depends on the category of migrant workers.

The UK’s withdrawal from the European Union has resulted in changes to the country’s immigration system. One of these changes is the introduction of a points-based system for non-UK nationals who want to work in the UK. To employ these workers, UK employers must apply for a Sponsorship License from the Home Office. In this guide, we will provide you with a comprehensive overview of the application process for obtaining a Sponsorship License in the UK after Brexit.


Q: How long does it take to obtain a Sponsorship License?

A: The processing time for a Sponsorship License application can vary depending on several factors, including the type of license, the size of your organisation, and the complexity of your application. However, the Home Office aims to process 90% of Sponsorship License applications within 8 weeks.

Q: Can I appeal a decision if my application is refused?

A: Yes, you can appeal a decision if your application is refused. The appeal process will depend on the reasons for the refusal and may involve a review by an independent tribunal.

Q: What are my sponsor duties and responsibilities?

A: As a sponsor, you are responsible for several duties, including:

  • Ensuring that the sponsored workers have the right to work in the UK.
  • Keeping records of the sponsored workers’ attendance and reporting any changes to their circumstances.
  • Reporting any breaches of immigration rules.
  • Co-operating with the Home Office during compliance visits.
  • Informing the Home Office if the sponsored workers are not complying with the conditions of their visa.

Q: Can I apply for a Sponsorship License if I have never sponsored workers before?

A: Yes, you can still apply for a Sponsorship License even if you have never sponsored workers before. However, you must be able to demonstrate that you have the resources and systems in place to fulfill your sponsor duties and responsibilities.

Q: What is the validity of a sponsorship license in the UK?

A: The validity of a sponsor license in the UK after Brexit is four years. After this time, employers will need to renew their license if they wish to continue sponsoring skilled workers from outside the UK.


Obtaining a Sponsorship License in the UK, specifically after Brexit, can be a complex process. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can ensure that your application is successful. Remember to carefully consider your eligibility, choose the correct type of license, gather all the required information, complete the online application, pay the required fees, provide supporting documents, and be prepared for a compliance visit. By fulfilling your sponsor duties and responsibilities, you can help ensure that your organisation can continue to benefit from skilled workers from around the world.

To read more on obtaining a Sponsorship Licence, read our dedicated article here.

UK Business Sponsor Licence Solicitors

Our 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.

We are an Immigration law firm based in Middle Temple, London and our solicitors are fully authorised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). Contact our specialist immigration team today and we can offer you a consultation in person or via telephone or Skype so we can explore your options. You can leave us a message on our Contact Form or give us a call on 02030110276.

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