We are the UK's leading immigration specialists
OISC Accredited UK immigration lawyers
We've had over 5000 applications approved
Get the correct advice from qualified immigration experts
4.7 rating 414 reviews

UK Sponsor Licence

UK-based businesses who wish to hire international workers may need to apply for a Sponsor Licence.

Call us on  0121 667 6530 for immediate help and assistance. We offer advice and application support in person, over the phone, or via Skype.

Request a call back from our immigration experts

What is a UK Sponsorship Visa?

UK-based organisations who wish to employ non-EU or EEA visa applicants on a Tier 2 Visa, must have a valid Sponsor Licence. Once this has been issued, international workers can apply for a Tier 2 or Tier 5 point-based visas.

To obtain a valid Sponsor Licence, companies need to pass the Resident Labour Market Test, meaning that businesses must first look for applicant among the domestic workforce before they can offer the position to international applicants. However, sponsoring an employee down not automatically guarantee that they will receive their visa.

If you want to learn more about applying for a Sponsor Licence, or if you need the help of an immigration professional, you can get in touch with our team by calling us at 0121 667 6530.


Immigration Advice Service 4.7 rating 414 reviews
Reviews.io Logo

Who is eligible for a Sponsor Licence?

To submit a licence application, UK-based employers cannot have:

  • Unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences or certain other crimes, such as money laundering or fraud
  • History of failing to carry out their sponsorship duties

An appropriate system to monitor any sponsored employer must be in place and will be regularly checked by the authorities. The UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) will review your application forms and supporting documents, and may also need to visit your premises to make sure that you are capable of carrying out your duties.

How to apply for a Sponsor Licence?

You can apply for a Sponsor Licence by using the online form. The application process includes the following steps:

  • Completing and submitting your application form online. If you need assistance, one of our immigration lawyers in Birmingham can help you with this phase.
  • Paying your application fee
  • Providing a bundle of documents to certify that you are a genuine business based and operating in the UK
  • Showing evidence of your eligibility
  • Choosing which type of licence, you need to apply for, based on the category of workers you need to hire.

Tier 2 Sponsor Licence

Tier 2 applicants are international workers who can be employed. This Tier includes the following permits:

  • Tier 2 General, for those who meet the job suitability requirements
  • Intra-Company Transfer, for multinational companies which need to transfer their employees to their branch in the UK
  • Minister of Religion, for those coming to work for a religious organisation in the UK for up to 3 years
  • Sportsperson, for elite sportspeople and coaches who will be based in the UK for up to 3 years

Tier 5 Sponsor Licence

Skilled workers who wish to remain in the UK temporarily, can apply for a Tier 5 Visa. This includes:

  • Creative and Sporting workers, such as sportspersons, artists and entertainers
  • Charity unpaid workers
  • Religious workers, doing preaching, pastoral and non-pastoral work
  • Government Authorised Exchange, for work experience, research or training
  • International Agreement, for those whose job is covered by international law, such as employees of overseas governments

How to appoint your sponsorship management roles?

As a part of all licence applications, you need to appoint designated people within your business to manage the sponsorship process. Your allocated employees must be paid members of your staff or officeholders. This personnel will be able to use the Sponsorship Management System (SMS).

You need to appoint the following roles:

  • Authorising officer, a senior position responsible for the actions of all the members of the staff and representatives who use the SMS
  • Key contact, who will be your main point of contact with the UKVI
  • Level 1 user, who will be responsible for all daily management of your licence through the SMS

If necessary, you can appoint an optional level 2 user. This role has more restricted access to the SMS but can support the other representatives.

How does Licence Rating work?

You will get an A-rated licence if your application is approved, and your business will automatically be listed in the register of sponsors.

Nevertheless, your licence may be downgraded to a B-rating at any time, if you fail to meet your sponsor duties.

If this happens, you will not be allowed to issued new certificates of sponsorship, and you will only be able to extend the licences of workers you already employ until you are upgraded back to an A-rating. To get an A-rating licence, you must follow an action plan provided by UKVI and pay a fee of £1,476.

You can only have two B-ratings in the 4 years that your licence is valid. If you get a third B-rating, you will lose your licence, and you will need to reapply for it.

Get in touch with our expert immigration lawyers to learn how to get a Sponsor Licence. Contact us

Fill out the form

What is the Resident Labour Market Test?

You can sponsor a foreign worker is the job you are offering has a suitable rate of pay and skill level.

Besides, you first need to advertise the role unless it is on the shortage occupation list. This is known as the Resident Labour Market Test. Before you can hire international workers, you must place at least two adverts for at least 28 days, to ensure that there is no suitable domestic workforce available for the job.

What are the Sponsor Licence fees?

Your Sponsor Licence application fees depends on the size of your business and the type of licence you need to get.

Type of Licence Fee for Small Businesses Fee for Medium and Large Businesses
Tier 2 £536 £1,476
Tier 5 £536 £536
Tier 2 and Tier 5 £536 £1,476
Add an additional Tier 2 No fee £940
Add an additional Tier 5 No fee No fee

What are the types of sponsorship certificates?

The different types of sponsorship certificates are as follows:

Unrestricted certificates. When you apply for your licence, you will be asked to provide the number of Tier 2 and Tier 5 certificates you are going to need. There is no limit to the number of unrestricted certificated that you can require for your business, provided that you submit adequate evidence.

Restricted certificates. These are for Tier 2 workers who are currently abroad and who will be paid less than £159,600 a year, or family members of Tier 4 migrant who are switching to a Tier 2 Visa. These certificates can be issued before the next allocation date only in exceptional circumstances.

What are my responsibilities as a Sponsor Licence holder?

To be a responsible and trustworthy Sponsor Licence holder, you must:

  • Check that all your international workers have the necessary skills and qualifications to do their jobs
  • Keep copies of your workers’ professional accreditations
  • Only assign certificates of sponsorship to workers who are suitable for the job
  • Tell UKVI if your sponsored workers are not complying with the conditions of their visa

If you fail to meet these responsibilities, your licence may be downgraded, suspended or withdrawn.

Advice Package icon

Advice Package

Comprehensive immigration advice tailored to your circumstances and goals.

Application Package icon

Application Package

Designed to make your visa application as smooth and stress-free as possible.

Fast Track Package icon

Fast Track Package

Premium application service that ensures your visa application is submitted to meet your deadline.

Appeal Package icon

Appeal Package

Ensure you have the greatest chance of a successful appeal. We will represent you in any case.

Advice Package image

The Advice Package

During this untimed Advice Session with our professional immigration lawyers in London, you will receive our comprehensive advice, completely tailored to your needs and your situation.

Fill out the form

Request the Advice Package
Application Package image

The Application Package

With our Application Package, your dedicated immigration lawyer will advise you on your application process and eligibility. Your caseworker will then complete and submit your forms to the Home Office on your behalf.

Fill out the form

Request the Application Package
Fast Track Package image

The Fast Track Package

Our Fast-Track Application Package is a premium service for those who need to submit their application in time with their deadlines. Your case will become a top priority for our lawyers and you will benefit from our highest-quality services.

Fill out the form

Request the Fast Track Package

The Appeal Package

By choosing our Appeal Package, you can rely on our lawyers’ legal knowledge and experience to ensure you have the highest chance of a successful appeal. We will also fully represent you in any hearings/tribunals.

Fill out the form

Request the Appeal Package

If you wish to find out more about our immigration services for UK businesses and individuals. Learn more

Fill out the form

Related pages for your continued reading.

Frequently Asked Questions

First of all, the licence you need to apply for depends on whether the workers you wish to hire is applying for a Tier 2 Skilled Worker Visa or requires a Tier 5 Temporary Worker Visa.

Your staff will be checked to ensure that they are suitable for these roles. Eligible personnel must be based in the UK most of the time, and cannot have:

  • Unspent criminal convictions
  • Been fined by UKVI in the past 12 months
  • Been ever reported to UKVI
  • Broken the law
  • Been a “key person” at a sponsor that had its licence revoked in the last 12 months
  • Failed to pay VAT or other excise duties

If your application is successful, you will be given a licence rating. At that point, you will be able to issue certificates of sponsorship if you have any job that is suitable for it.

Your Sponsor Licence will be valid for 4 years. Nevertheless, you may lose your licence at any time if you fail to meet your responsibilities as a sponsor.

As a part of your sponsor licence application, you will need to pay an additional charge for each foreign worker you employ and who are coming to work in the UK for 6 months or more. This is called the “Immigration skills charge”.

Although you must pay the immigration skill charge if the worker is applying from within the UK (even if they are applying for less than 6 months), you will not be charged if you are sponsoring a worker who:

  • Is switching from a Tier 4 (Student) Visa to a Tier 2 (General) Visa
  • Has a tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Graduate Trainee Visa
  • Will do a job with a PhD-level standard occupational classification (SOC) code

The SMS system will work out how much you need to pay for your immigration skill charge based on the size of your organisation and how long the migrant will be working for you.

You are usually a small business if:
• Your annual turnover is £10.12 million or less
• You have 50 employees or fewer
If you are unsure which category your company fits into, you can get in touch with our team of immigration lawyers in Birmingham. One of our advisers experienced in employment immigration law will be happy to review your situation and provide you with professional advice.

You can apply to correct a mistake with your application if you think it was refused because your supporting documents were not considered. This option is only available for businesses that submitted their forms on or after 1st April 2016.

It must be noted that you cannot apply for an appeal if you disagree with the Home Office decision. However, you can discuss your situation with one of our Birmingham immigration lawyers, and evaluate the best options to submit a new application.

You can sponsor under-18s for the following visa categories:

  • Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme)
  • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – International Agreement), if they will work as a private servant in a diplomatic household or in the household of an employee of an international organisation