Sponsor licence applications – myth busters

Jul 28, 2020

Sponsor Licence applications – myth buster

If you are an organisation that recruits skilled workers from outside the UK, you will require a sponsor licence to maintain your access to critical skills.

Migrate UK can assist with sponsor licence applications. Recently published details on the points-based system have confirmed that the post January 2021 immigration system will be centred around the work sponsorship route.

The existing Tier 2 (General) category will be replaced by the ‘Skilled Worker’ route. The Tier 2 Intra-company transfer (ICT) will be a different category altogether.

With the end of free movement, the Tier 2 set-up will become more restrictive. Inevitably, more employers will need a Tier 2 sponsor licence to maintain staffing levels and be ready to employ EU nationals arriving to the UK from 2021.

Why should organisations apply for a sponsor licence as soon as possible?


What are the positive changes to the points-based immigration system effective from January 2021?

sponsor licence applications

Complied by Judit Adorjan

  • A-level jobs can be sponsored under the Skilled Worker route
  • Resident Labour Market test and the cap on the number of skilled workers will be abolished
  • Minimum salary threshold for the Skilled Worker route will lowered to £25,600 or the going rate for the vacancy being filled
  • Those entering the UK for the first time under the Skilled Worker route can take 30% lower salary than the rate of pay for experienced workers in any occupation as long as the minimum salary of £20,480 is met
  • Employees admitted on the Tier 2 Intra-company transfer route will be able to switch into the Skilled Worker route if they meet the qualifying requirements
  • Existing rules regarding the ‘cooling off period’ will be replaced. The rule will change to an overseas intra-company transfer must not remain as an intra-company transferee (or hold entry clearance or leave to enter) for more than five years in any six-year period. There is one exception: where they qualify to be granted up to nine years on the basis of their salary.

What kind of sponsor licences are there?

Non-educational organisations can apply for different types of sponsored work visas:

  • Tier 2 (General) or Skilled Worker route from 2021
  • Tier 2 Intra-company transfer (ICT)
  • Tier 2 (Ministers of Religion) / Tier 5 (Temporary Workers) Religious workers
  • Tier 2 (Sportsperson)
  • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) Creative and Sporting
  • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) Charity Workers
  • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) Government Authorised Exchange
  • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) International Agreement
  • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) Seasonal Workers

Some of these licences can be applied for in conjunction with each other, using a similar supporting documents. Others have their own separate application process with bespoke criteria.

Migrate UK can assist with sponsor licence applications.

Sponsor licence applications

Karen Kaur and Jonathan Beech


Which organisations can apply for a sponsor licence?

To apply, a business must submit evidence to show that they are a genuine employer operating lawfully in the UK.

It is a common misconception that only long-established organisations can apply for a sponsor licence. New businesses can qualify.

For organisations that have been operating or trading in the UK for less than 18 months on the date the application is made, the Home Office will make different checks to those carried out on more established businesses.

In our experience, organisations less than 6 months old obtain sponsor licences if they meet the criteria and they can offer a genuine vacancy.

Migrate UK are able to offer advice for sponsor licence applications.

What other criteria must be met?

  • The people involved must be honest, dependable and reliable
  • The Home Office will complete background check on key personnel named on the application and any person involved in the day to day running of the organisation
  • The Home Office will also check for any evidence of previous non-compliance by the sponsor
  • Key personnel must be capable of carrying out their sponsor duties and evidence their compliance in the manner set out in the sponsor duties
  • The organisation will need human resource and recruitment systems in place to meet their sponsor duties. The systems required will be determined by the size and sector of the organisation
  • The Home Office are able to visit and conduct checks to ensure that the sponsor duties are being complied with on an unannounced basis.
  • The organisation can offer a genuine vacancy which meets the criteria of the category they are applying to be licensed for.


Can a sponsor licence reflect the structure of my organisation?

The answer is yes. Therefore, it is important how you register your organisation.

If you have a number of different offices, UK based subsidiaries, entities or locations, you can register in a number of ways:

  • Apply for a single licence that includes your head office and all UK branches
  • Apply for a separate licence for each branch
  • Group a number of branches in a single licence. For example a UK wide company might find it more convenient to register all of its operations in a particular region under a single licence.

sponsor licence applications

Once your sponsor licence has been approved you are only able to add further branches to your existing licence if you have an A-rating, registered as a head-office and all UK branches or as a number of branches grouped into a single licence. Otherwise, each branch will need to apply for a separate sponsor licence.

If you are licensed as a head office and all UK branches and the Home Office revokes your licence or downgrades it to a B-rating, this will apply to all your branches. Consequently, none of your branches will be able to sponsor migrants. If you are sponsoring migrants when your licence is revoked, the Home Office will limit their permission to stay in the UK. If any of your branches later apply for an individual licence when considering the application, the Home Office will take into account any evidence of previous non-compliance.

How should I apply for a sponsor licence?

Migrate UK can assist with sponsor licence applications.

You must complete an online application form.

You will need to nominate individuals primarily based in the UK to take on roles in respect of your sponsor licence:

  • Authorising officer – someone who has some involvement in recruitment and/or HR. This person will be responsible for the licence and will ensure that the compliance duties are met
  • Key contact – main point of contact with the Home Office. A legal representative can undertake this role.
  • Level 1 user – responsible for the day-to-day management of the licence via access to an online portal, the sponsorship management system. At the application stage this must be an the authorising officer, but once the licence is approved others, including legal representatives can be set up as level 1 users.

Once the online form is submitted a fee is paid depending on the size of the organisation. This is currently £536 for a small organisation or £1476 for a medium or large business (as dictated by the Companies Act).

Specific documents must be sent along with a detailed cover letter appropriate to your organisation and required based on the category of licence being applying for. You will need to send all supporting documents to the Home Office within 5 working days from the submission date.

Click here for more information on the points-based immigration system and sponsor licences.

Migrate UK is the expert in sponsor licence applications.

Call us for free initial advice 01235 841 568 or email info@migrate-uk.com

Migrate UK are the experts in sponsor licence applications.