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Sponsor Licence Application

Any UK organisations wanting to recruit and employ workers from overseas must ensure they have applied for a licence to sponsor such workers relocating to the UK.

The process for obtaining a Sponsor Licence can be complicated. Call us on 0161 826 9783 for Sponsor Licence assistance. Our team is here to help over the phone, in person, or via Skype.

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    What is a Sponsor Licence?

    It is a legal requirement that all companies, including charities, must ensure they have been issued a Sponsor Licence before employing a skilled worker from overseas.

    The Sponsor Licences are spilt into two categories – a Worker Licence and a Temporary Worker Licence – the type of licence needed depends on the role the employer is recruiting for.

    A Sponsor Licence is a way of ensuring that organisations employing foreign workers are fulfilling their duties and obligations as an employer – during the recruitment process and once the worker is in the UK.

    You must be able to prove you are recruiting workers as a legitimate business and there is a genuine need for skilled migrant workers.

    The Sponsor Licence also requires a company to nominate one person who will represent the company and liaise with the Home Office and other bodies throughout the process. This person must be an executive or senior member of the company but must not be a shareholder.

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    Responsibilities of Sponsor Licence Holder

    It is important that you fulfil the responsibilities that come with being a Sponsor Licence holder. As an employer of an overseas worker you must:

    • Ensure that your foreign workers have the necessary skills and qualifications for the role, with documents to prove this
    • Only assign Certificates of Sponsorship to workers when the job is suitable for sponsorship
    • Inform the UKVI if your employee is not complying with the conditions and terms of the visa

    The employer must also ensure once granted a Sponsor Licence that they assign a Certificate of Sponsorship to each overseas worker that they employ.

    Sponsor Licence Eligibility Requirements

    There are several requirements for organisations applying for a Sponsor Licence and they must be met in order for the Sponsor Licence to be granted.

    The main criterion for an organisation is that they must not have:

    • A history of failing to meet sponsorship duties – such as illegal workplace practices, failing to may employees etc
    • Any unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences or other crimes such as fraud.

    Chances to UK Immigration laws mean that Sponsor Licence holders are no longer required to conduct a Resident Labour Market test before recruiting from overseas, However, the employer must still provide sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the employment of an overseas worker is necessary.

    Types of Sponsor Licences

    It is important that employers of overseas workers ensure they are applying for the correct licence that will cover the jobs that are on offer.

    There are two main types that allow organisations to legally employer workers and they cover different lengths of employment as well as different occupations.

    Worker Sponsor Licence

    This allows the recruitment of Skilled Worker Visa holders and is aimed at those who will have the right to work in the UK for at least three years – often up to five years. There are a number of sub-categories covered by this licence including:

    • Sportsperson Visa
    • Minister of Religion Visa (Employees can work for up to three years under this subcategory)
    • Senior or Specialist Worker Visa

    Temporary Worker Sponsor Licence

    This licence covers the employing of those with a Temporary Worker Visa – skilled workers who are coming to the UK on a temporary work basis. This covers the following job roles and employment periods:

    • Creative Worker – up to two years for eligible creative workers
    • International Sportsperson – up to 1 year for sportsperson, up to two years for an entertainer or artist
    • Charity worker – up to 1 year
    • Religious worker – up to 2 years
    • International agreement worker
    • Government Authorised Exchange

    Sponsor Licence Application Fees

    The fee for the sponsor licence application depends on the size and time of the organisation applying for the licence.

    Licence type Small or Charitable sponsor Medium or large sponsor
    Worker £536 £1,476
    Temporary Worker £536 £536
    Worker and Temporary Worker £536 £1,476

    Sponsorship Management System (SMS)

    When you apply for a Sponsor Licence you must nominate someone to manage the sponsorship of workers, and this will be done via the Sponsorship Management System (SMS).

    This is an important role and can be done by more than one person – although it must include a senior member of staff. The Sponsor Licence application will ask for the details of employees willing to do the following:

    • The key contact – act as the main point of contact with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and the Home Office
    • The Authorising officer – this must be a senior member of staff and they will be responsible for the actions of the staff and representatives
    • Level 1 user – responsible for the day-to-day management of the Sponsor Licence

    Part of the application process will involve vetting the members of staff taking on these roles – you should ensure they do not any unspent criminal convictions or a history of immigration violations.

    How to Apply for a Sponsor Licence

    Applications for sponsor licences must be made online via the website.

    Firstly, you will need to register an account with the sponsor management system (SMS). You will need to start by inputting your name and email address, after which you will be given a user ID. It is important to make a note of this ID as you will need it every time you log in to the SMS.

    You will also be sent a password for your account.

    You can then fill in and submit your application for a sponsor licence. You will need to provide relevant details such as the type of licence you wish to apply for, details of your organisation, and details of your key personnel.

    You must also pay the licence application fee when submitting your form.

    After submitting your application, you will need send the submission sheet that is given to you and upload your supporting documents.

    Required Documents for a Sponsor Licence Application

    The exact documents needing to be submitted when applying for a Sponsor Licence do vary depending on the type of licence you are applying for as well as the nature of the organisation.

    Generally, you can expect to be asked to provide the following documents when making your application:

    • Recent business bank statement
    • Employer’s liability insurance of at least £5 million from an authorised insurer
    • Certificate of VAT registration
    • Evidence of registration as an employer with HMRC – i.e. PAYE and Accounts Office Reference Number
    • Proof of ownership or lease of business premises or rent agreement
    • Up-to-date accounts
    • If you are required to be registered with and/or inspected/monitored by a regulatory body to operate lawfully in the UK, evidence of your registration

    Documentation should be provided promptly and should be original – although the Home Office may accept certified copies in certain circumstances.

    If you are unclear, about the documents required to support your application you should consider seeking advice from an immigration specialist to ensure you do not face unnecessary delays or possible rejection.

    Sponsor Licence Rating Explained

    When your application is approved you will be awarded a A-rated licence and will be included in the official register or sponsors. You will need to renew your licence before it expires – most Sponsor Licences are issued for four years.

    However, if you fail to meet your duties as a sponsor then the immigration authorites could opt to downgrade your licence to a B rating. This means the UKVI will provide an action plan to ensure you can reapply for A rating – you will need to pay a fee for such an action place. You will be unable to issue any new Cerfitifacte of Sponsorship while classed as a B rating.

    Failure to improve back to a A-rating could mean your Sponsor Licence will be revoked and you will be unable to recruit overseas workers.

     Being Refused a Sponsor Licence

     If you are refused a Sponsor Licence, there is no right of appeal. If you receive a rejection then you cannot resubmit a new application for at least six months.

    However, there is the possibility of having the first decision overturned if you can demonstrate that the refusal was the result of an error or mistake in the supporting evidence or because of an error made by a caseworker.

    If this is the case, then you must submit an Error Correction Request Form within 14 days of the refusal date. To receive professional assistance in this process, you can seek help from one of our immigration lawyers in Manchester.

    Sponsor Licence Expiry and Renewals

    Prior to 2024, businesses had to renew their sponsor licence every four years to prevent them from expiring.

    However, from 6 April 2024, this requirement is no longer in place and businesses no longer need to renew their licence to ensure validity.

    Note that businesses whose licences expire before 6 April 2024 will have to renew their licences and pay the renewal fee of £536 one last time before the new rule comes into effect. They will then no longer have to renew their licence again (but will still be subject to the same compliance and audit checks as normal, similar to all other businesses with sponsor licences).

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              Frequently Asked Questions

              Sponsor licences last indefinitely, assuming that the business continues to keep and uphold the standards and regulations expected of them.

              This law was changed in 2024, where previously businesses were expected to regularly renew their licence every four years in order to keep them.

              You do not need to apply for a Sponsorship Licence if you are intending to employ someone on a business visa, for example, an Exceptional Talent Visa.

              If you unclear about whether you need a Sponsor Licence then you should seek advice before recruiting or employing overseas staff.

              If there are any significant changes to your organisation, you must inform the Immigration Services within 20 working days. You could lose your sponsor licence if you fail to inform the UKVI of changes to your organisation.

              A Sponsor Licence number is a unique reference number or code which is issued to Sponsor Licence holders. Your employees will need to know your Sponsor Licence Number for their visa application.