UK Employers Guide to Worker Sponsorship Licence and Compliance

An employer sponsorship licence provides a UK employer with the ability to employ non-settled citizens, including EU nationals, to fill a skilled vacancy in the UK. 

After a successful application, a sponsor licence is valid for an initial period of four years, with the option to renew. Employers who wish to employ a non-settled worker may require a licence, however in some cases there may be alternative options, although these are becoming more limited in number. 

Licences are not just reserved for long established large employers. There is no restriction to the size and age of the employing organisation. 

Download this guide in pdf format

How Do I Obtain an Employer Sponsorship Licence? 

An initial consultation with Migrate UK will confirm your organisation’s eligibility, the type of licence needed and ensuring sponsor management roles can be fulfilled.  

Book your initial free consultation with us today.


The Home Office (UKVI) will consider adding you to the sponsor licence register so long as:

  • You have no unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences or other crimes such as fraud or money laundering.
  • You have no recent history of failing to carry out sponsorship duties.
  • You have appropriate systems in place to monitor sponsored employees.
  • You have an organisation set up in the UK with a genuine vacancy.

UKVI's emphasis on the genuineness of applications means that there is the chance of a visit to make sure your organisation is trustworthy, and capable of fulfilling the required duties.

Type of Licence

Once eligibility has been established, you will need to choose the type of licence you need depending on whether the workers you want are either:

  • Skilled Worker
  • Global Business Mobility
  • Minister of Religion
  • Sportsperson

You can apply for a Temporary Work Visa if you want to employ individuals to come to the UK for a short time for work experience or to do training.

Sponsor Management Roles

You will need to appoint a suitable employee or employees within your business to fulfil sponsorship management roles.  The main roles are as follows, and appointed staff will need to undergo suitability checks:

  • Authorising Officer: Most senior person in charge of recruiting staff - must be with the sponsor company.
  • Key Contact: Direct contact with Home Office.  Can be a representative.
  • Level 1 User: Has full access to the Sponsor Management System (SMS) to issue Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) updates.  First Level 1 User must be the Authorising Officer.
  • Legal Representative: Can take over additional Level 1/2 role.

These roles must be held by those who are permanently based in the UIK for the duration of the period they will hold the role.  The Authorising Officer can also hold the Key Contact and Level 1 User roles.

How Our Expert UK Immigration Lawyers Help

Our process has seven simple steps:

  1. Appointment: Book your initial consultation with our legal team
  2. Business Review: We will discuss your requirements
  3. Evaluate Employer Sponsorship Potential: We evaluate your ability to gain an employer sponsorship licence and if positive, we submit a costed proposal and then prepare it and submit it on your behalf.
  4. Candidate Review: We check your candidates to make sure they qualify to live and work in the UK.
  5. Candidate Support: We provide visa guidance, support to the candidate and make the application on your behalf.
  6. Home Office Application: We apply to the Home Office for a certification of sponsorship for your potential employees.
  7. Sponsorship Licence Management: We offer a service to manage your compliance with the right to work checks, reporting and record keeping.  Making life simpler for our clients.

Other Questions

What if I simply wish to renew our licence?

Sponsor licences are valid for 4 years and thereafter, should the organisation continue to have the opportunity to employ or retain skilled migrant workers, a renewal request can be made to extend for a further four years.

The renewal process should take place once you have updated any changes for your organisation on the SMS. As a result, it is important that you update records throughout the lifecycle of your licence. 

During the renewal process, UKVI may wish to assess your sponsor licence details and reporting history, ensuring organisations have been compliant with regulations.  Where an audit has not been carried out for a long period of time, we strongly recommend that you contact us for further information to ensure you are well prepared for a UKVI visit.

Our Fees

Migrate UK aim to charge fixed fees in the majority of circumstances. These fees are based on the anticipated time spent on a particular application process.  All applications are different, and we are careful to take all relevant information on board when highlighting the fixed fee.  In some circumstances, there may be complexities or delays outwith our control that could incur extra charges, but these will be discussed with you in advance.

Fixed fees quoted are for full representation, i.e., ownership of the application to include all advisory, completion of necessary application forms, recommendations and checking supporting documentation. This also includes submitting the application and preparing the document bundle/uploading to UKVI portal as appropriate.  In some circumstances, you may wish to have structured written advice, meet with your dedicated consultant, or have us check a completed application and supporting documentation, a (check and advise) service. In these situations, our hourly charge rate will apply. 

We will provide an estimate to the likely total fee once we have carefully consulted on your situation.  An additional 20% tax (VAT) may need to be added to our professional fees.

Other Immigration Charges

  • UKVI application fee for a sponsor licence application.
  • For Employers; Certificate of sponsorship fee.
  • For Employers; a Skills Charge for some sponsored jobs.
  • NHS Surcharge per annum.
  • Visa application fee.
  • Disbursements such as post charges, translations or certification of documents
  • English language tests including the Life in the UK test (where applicable)

All UKVI fees are paid upfront.  Again, these charges will be discussed with you up front and detailed in our proposal document.

Contact Our Worker Sponsorship Visa Legal Team Today

Book your initial free consultation with us today.

For a full explanation, more detail and FAQs - please download our guide: Download this guide in pdf format




Our expert business immigration lawyers and advisors are always available to support you and your team.

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Proven process 

We deal with all of the paperwork and the application process for you to give peace of mind that everything is being done correctly and efficiently.


Your own consultant

Each of our clients has a dedicated point of contact who gets to understand your business and your requirements.

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We look after your team

We manage the whole process for your team and their family from the initial application to applying for settlement in the UK.


Stress free compliance

We manage all of your compliance, right to work checks, reporting and record keeping.



We can provide training workshops for your business covering areas such as CoS process, online application process and sponsor licence duties & responsibilities.


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Migrate UK Ltd is a company registered England and Wales (Company No. 05089081) Unit 3, The Old Estate Yard, High Street, East Hendred, Oxfordshire OX12 8JY

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