A sponsor licence provides a UK employer with the ability to employ non-settled citizens 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.
Sponsor licence applications can be submitted online and there are very specific documents that need to be sent to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to show that the organisation has established a presence in the UK, has a genuine vacancy and intends to trade.
UKVI may wish to visit the organisation before or after the licence has been issued.
All sponsors are required to meet certain obligations in terms of monitoring and tracking their sponsored workers, as well as reporting and recording the information.
How do I obtain a sponsor 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.
The Home Office 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.
The Home Office’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:
Migrant workers with long-term job offers. The four subgroups of this tier are Skilled Worker route, Intra-Company Transfer, Minister of Religion and Sportsperson
Skilled temporary workers. This tier has six different subgroups:
Charity worker, Religious worker, Government authorised exchange, International agreement, Creative and sporting, Seasonal workers, Youth mobility scheme
Sponsor management roles
You will need to appoint a suitable employee or employees within your business to fulfill sponsorship management roles. The main roles are as follows, and appointed staff will need to undergo suitability checks:
Most senior person in charge of recruiting staff – must be with the sponsor company
Direct contact with Home Office. Can be a representative.
Level 1 User
Has full access to the Sponsor Management System to issue Certificates of Sponsorship or 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 UK 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 can Migrate UK help?
After an initial consultation, the online application needs to be completed along with paying the necessary fee (these are the same for renewal applications) and submitting the necessary supporting documentation. You will get an A-rated licence if your application is approved, which means your business will be listed in the register of sponsors and most importantly, lets you start assigning Certificates of Sponsorship for your prospective skilled talent
Comprehensive knowledge on sponsor licence applications. We know what is required and how to avoid the stumbling blocks.
A tailor made consultation, ensuring your organisation is eligible for a sponsor licence and establishing which licence is required to suit your needs
A broad analysis and assessment of company structure and how best to operate the Sponsor Management System
Completion of the online application and assisting with supporting document verification, ensuring you provide the Home Office with evidence relevant to your particular application
Representative status – ensuring we are assisting you every step of the way with sponsor management duties
Comprehensive in-house training in order to improve key HR staff’s understanding of sponsor duties, reporting and record keeping, as well as to discuss any crucial legislative changes
What if I simply need to renew?
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 for a further 4 years.
Similar to initial applications, an online form must be completed and sent with any supporting documents requested by the Home Office. During the renewal process, the Home Office will assess 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 in order to make sure you are well-prepared for a visit by the Home Office.
Are there any penalties I need to be aware of?
Incorporating illegal practices and making applications without the necessary due-diligence can be extremely detrimental to an organisation’s integrity and prosperity. Having your licence downgraded to a B-rating by not continuing to meet your sponsor duties means you will not be able to issue new Certificates of Sponsorship until evidence of improvement has been submitted. This is usually via a paid-for action plan.
Moreover if an application is unsuccessful, you cannot appeal and will need to reapply at full cost. A 12 month waiting period is enforced if you have been fined for employing illegal workers and you have lost your licence.
Finally, being found guilty of facilitating the entrance and employment of clandestine migrant workers can lead to a fine of up to £20,000 and / or imprisonment.
Our fee for full representation starts from £1750 plus VAT (if applicable).
Sponsor licence application and renewal service
Call us for a free initial consultation