Sponsor Licence Applications

Sponsor Licence Applications

If you want to employ someone from outside the EEA who does not already have the right to work in the UK, you will need to obtain a Tier 2 or Tier 5 Sponsor Licence. Our immigration solicitors are well versed in preparing Sponsor Licence applications for employers and can guide you through the process of obtaining one, as well as complying with your sponsor duties.

A non-EEA migrant without an existing right to work must have a sponsor before they can apply to come to, or remain in, the UK for work. The sponsor will be an organization in the UK that wishes to employ a migrant.

Sponsorship plays two main roles in a migrant’s application for permission to come to, or remain in, the UK to work. It provides evidence that the migrant will fill a genuine vacancy that cannot be filled with a suitably qualified or skilled settled worker and it involves a pledge from the sponsor that it accepts all of the duties expected when sponsoring the migrant. Prospective sponsors can apply for a licence to employ migrants under either Tier 2 (skilled workers with a job offer) or Tier 5 (temporary workers) of the points-based system. Successful applicants are given a licence rating and are able to issue Certificates of Sponsorship if they have jobs that are suitable for sponsorship. A sponsor licence is valid for four years, after which it will expire.

If you want to employ someone who does not already have the right to work in the UK then you will need to sponsor them. All companies and organisations who want to sponsor their employees must obtain a Sponsor Licence. You can apply to have a Sponsor Licence that covers any of the following visas:

  • Tier 2 (General)
  • Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer)
  • Tier 2 (Religious Worker)
  • Tier 2 (Sportsperson)
  • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Creative and Sporting)
  • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Religious Worker)
  • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Charity Worker)
  • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker –International Agreement)
  • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange)


Sponsor Management System

Once you have your licence, you will be given access to the Sponsor Management System (SMS). This is an online portal where you can manage your licence. You must also use the system to report certain events, such as if a migrant fails to report to work. After you have been granted your Sponsor Licence, you will be able to generate a document called a ‘Certificate of Sponsorship’ (COS) for each migrant you wish to sponsor. The COS will record the migrant’s personal details and information about their employment. The migrant will then use this document to apply for their visa.

Criteria for a Sponsor Licence

In order to be granted a Sponsor Licence, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) will need to be satisfied that your organization meets the following four criteria:

  1. You are a genuine organization operating lawfully in the UK;
  2. You are honest, dependable and reliable. This applies both to the company and to relevant key personnel;
  3. You are capable of carrying out your sponsor duties;
  4. If applying under Tier 2 (General), that you can offer genuine employment that meets the required skill level and appropriate rates of pay.

Applying for a Sponsor Licence

If your organisation wishes to sponsor foreign workers to work in the UK, it will need to apply to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) for a Sponsor Licence. You must complete an application form, which is submitted online. You will then have to send certain documents to UKVI within 5 working days of the date on which the online application form was submitted.

The documents that you will need to submit with your application will depend upon the type of organisation that you are and the tiers that you wish to sponsor migrants under. It is important that the documents are checked carefully, as there is no right of appeal if your licence application is refused. If you are refused a licence, you may not be able to apply again for up to five years, depending on the circumstances. You will need to appoint certain people as ‘key personnel’ for the licence.

For expert advice and assistance with applying for a UK sponsors licence, please contact our immigration solicitors.

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