UK Sponsor License Application |UK-24|

Sponsor License

What is a sponsor license?

A sponsor license allows an organization or employer to sponsor and employ foreign workers. Immigration and work authorization programs commonly use this term.

Sponsor licenses are issued by the Home Office in the United Kingdom as part of the Points-Based System (PBS). Employers who wish to hire skilled workers from outside the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA) must obtain a sponsor license. The license establishes the employer as a legitimate sponsor and outlines their immigration compliance responsibilities.

For a sponsor licence, organizations must demonstrate their legitimacy, have appropriate human resource and record-keeping processes, as well as comply with immigration rules. The sponsor license allows the organization to issue Certificates of Sponsorship (COS) to foreign workers.

Sponsor license requirements and processes can vary by country and immigration system. If your organization is interested in sponsoring foreign workers, you should consult the relevant immigration authorities in your jurisdiction.

In the UK, a sponsor license (formerly a Tier 2 sponsor license) allows companies to hire skilled workers based abroad or within the country (applicants can switch from other visa categories, such as the Tier 4 Student and Youth Mobility Scheme) to the Skilled Worker visa. Licenses are valid for four years, with the option to renew them.

What are the eligibility requirements for a sponsor license?

Applicants must have a UK presence and operate or trade lawfully in the UK to be eligible for sponsor licenses. A single license can cover all your UK branches if you have more than one. It is also possible to request a separate license for each branch based on your specific circumstances. Consider the situation where you are required to be registered with or inspected/monitored by a statutory body in order to operate lawfully in the UK. 

You will need to submit proof that you (and any branches covered by the license) are registered with the appropriate organization. If you want to run your class of business at your trading address, you may also need to provide proof that you have the appropriate planning permission or local planning authority consent.

Home Office approval requires that you offer genuine employment in a skilled occupation. As a professional employer, you will also pay the correct salary rate.

Upon applying for a sponsor license, you agree to accept all the duties that come with it.

Sponsorship is not normally available to individuals. A sole trader sponsoring a skilled worker within their business, however, is an exception.

As of my last update, the key eligibility requirements for a sponsor license in the UK include the following:

  1. Legitimate Business: The organization must be a genuine and operating business in the UK. This is assessed based on factors such as the nature of the business, its trading activities, and its compliance with legal requirements.
  2. Compliance with Immigration Rules: The organization must demonstrate a history of compliance with immigration laws and regulations. This includes ensuring that previous sponsored employees comply with the terms of their visas.
  3. HR Systems and Processes: The applicant must have effective human resources (HR) systems and processes in place to monitor and manage sponsored employees. This involves maintaining accurate records and reporting any changes or issues to the Home Office.
  4. Sponsorship Duties: The organization must be willing and able to fulfill specific duties as a sponsor. This includes providing the necessary support and documentation for sponsored workers, cooperating with Home Office requests, and keeping accurate records.
  5. Appropriate Level of Competence: The organization must show that it is competent in fulfilling its sponsorship duties. This is often assessed through the completion of an online application and supporting documentation.
  6. Financial Stability: The Home Office may assess the financial stability of the organization to ensure it can support sponsored workers without reliance on public funds.
  7. Compliance with Additional Requirements: Depending on the type of license and the category of workers being sponsored, there may be additional requirements specific to certain sectors or occupations.

What Are the Purpose & Benefits Of UK Sponsorship Licenses?

The primary aim of the UK Sponsor License is to facilitate the employment of skilled workers from outside the UK, thereby enriching the local workforce with global expertise. Obtaining a Sponsor License is a strategic move for employers looking to enhance their operations and competitiveness on a global scale. The benefits extend beyond merely filling job vacancies; it’s about fostering a culture of diversity and inclusivity.

How much does a sponsor license application cost?

There is a fee for a business sponsor license based on the size and type of the organization. The Sponsor application fee is payable every four years when the sponsor renews their license. Every year, the Home Office reviews fees and publishes any changes. Sponsor license fees of £1,476 are required for organizations classified as “medium” and “large.” All organizations that do not meet the definition of a “small sponsor” would be charged this fee.

If two of the following apply, an organization qualifies as a small sponsor:

  • You have a turnover of less than £10.2 million per year.
  • A total of £5.1million or less is the value of your assets.
  • A company with fewer than 50 employees
  • Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs): For small and medium-sized enterprises, the application fee for a sponsor license was £536.
  • Large Enterprises: For larger organizations, the application fee for a sponsor license was £1,476.

These fees cover the cost of processing the application and do not include other potential costs associated with compliance, such as the Immigration Skills Charge, which may be applicable depending on the type of workers being sponsored.

UK Sponsor License Application Process

The process of acquiring a UK Sponsor License is meticulous, requiring a comprehensive understanding of the steps involved.

Below is a detailed walkthrough of the application process:


  • Ensure your organization meets the eligibility criteria.
  • Gather necessary documents, including proof of operating lawfully in the UK.

Application Submission:

  • Instruct UK Spouse Visa so we can properly fill out your sponsorship application form.
  • Submit the required documents.
  • Pay the application fee, which varies based on the size of your organization.

Home Office Review:

  • The Home Office reviews the application, which may include visiting your business premises.

Approval and Rating:

  • Upon approval, you’ll receive an A or B rating, allowing you to start sponsoring foreign workers.

Sponsor Management System (SMS):

  • Utilise the Sponsor Management System to manage your sponsored employees and comply with your sponsor duties.

The application process, although rigorous, is a crucial step toward expanding your workforce and enhancing your organization’s global competitiveness.

How can my organization apply for a sponsor license?

The company must submit an application form online along with a minimum of four specified supporting documents to demonstrate its trading presence in the UK, in addition to a cover letter providing background information about the company, in order to obtain a sponsor license (formerly known as Tier 2 sponsor license). A company’s HR processes may be required, for example, by the Home Office, to determine whether the company is meeting its compliance requirements and sponsorship obligations.

Below is a general guide on how to apply for a sponsor license:

  1. Check Eligibility: Before applying, ensure that your organization meets the eligibility criteria for a sponsor license. This includes being a legitimate and operating business, having effective HR systems, demonstrating compliance with immigration laws, and being financially stable.
  2. Choose the Type of Licence: Determine the type of sponsor license that corresponds to the category of workers you intend to sponsor. The main categories include Tier 2 (General), Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer), and Tier 5 (Temporary Workers).
  3. Create an Online Account: You need to create an online account on the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) website. This account will be used to submit your sponsor license application and manage your sponsorship duties.
  4. Complete the Application Form: Fill out the online sponsor license application form. The form will require information about your organization, its structure, HR processes, and the type of workers you intend to sponsor.
  5. Prepare Supporting Documents: Gather the necessary supporting documents, including evidence of your organization’s financial stability, business activities, and compliance with immigration laws. The exact documents required depend on the type of license and your organization’s specific circumstances.
  6. Submit the Application: Once the application form is complete and all required documents are gathered, apply online through your account. Pay the applicable fee at this stage.
  7. Wait for a Decision: The UK Home Office will review your application and may contact you for additional information if needed. It’s important to respond promptly to requests.
  8. Receive a Licence (if approved): If your application is successful, you will be issued a sponsor license. This license will expire, and you must ensure ongoing sponsorship compliance.
  9. Maintain Compliance: After receiving the license, continue to meet the Home Office sponsorship duties. This includes keeping accurate records, reporting changes or issues, and cooperating with Home Office requests.

What are the main ‘worker’ license categories?

 The main worker license categories under the UK’s Points-Based System (PBS) include several tiers, each designed for specific types of workers. Please note that immigration policies can change, and it’s advisable to check the latest information from the UK Home Office or relevant authorities. As of my last update, the main worker license categories were:

Tier 2 (General):

  • For skilled workers coming to the UK with a job offer.
  • Requires a valid certificate of sponsorship from an employer with a sponsor license.
  • Points are awarded based on factors such as job offer, skill level, English language proficiency, and salary.

Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer):

  • For employees of multinational companies transferring to a UK branch.
  • Includes categories for long-term staff, short-term staff, graduate trainees, and skills transfer.

Tier 5 (Temporary Workers):

  • For individuals coming to the UK for a temporary period to do specific types of work.
  • Categories include Creative and Sporting, Charity Workers, Religious Workers, government-authorized Exchange, and International Agreements.

Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent):

  • For individuals who are recognized as leaders or emerging leaders in their field.
  • Applicants must be endorsed by a designated competent body in their field, such as the Arts Council or Tech Nation.

Global Talent:

  • Replaced the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route in 2020.
  • Designed to attract recognized leaders and promising individuals in science, humanities, engineering, the arts, and digital technology.

Skilled Worker (Replaced Tier 2 General):

  • Part of the new points-based immigration system introduced in December 2020.
  • Replaced the Tier 2 (General) category and is for skilled workers with a job offer.

These categories are subject to change, and new immigration policies may have been implemented since my last update. Always refer to the official guidance from the UK Home Office or relevant authorities for the most up-to-date information.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the processing time for a UK Sponsor License Application?

The processing time varies but typically takes around 8 weeks. However, factors like application complexity and accuracy of documentation can influence this timeframe.

Can my organization appeal a rejected application?

Yes, organizations have the right to appeal a rejected application. Understanding the grounds for rejection and addressing them in the appeal is crucial for a successful outcome.

How many Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) can my organization assign?

The number of CoS your organization can assign depends on the size of your business and your track record of compliance with immigration rules.

Is it mandatory to conduct a Resident Labour Market Test?

In some cases, yes. The Resident Labour Market Test is required for certain roles, ensuring that a suitable settled worker in the UK cannot fill the job.

What happens if an employee leaves the organization during their sponsorship?

Proper reporting is essential. Notify the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) promptly and follow the prescribed procedures to maintain compliance.

Can my organization apply for an expedited processing of the application?

Expedited processing is not standard but may be available in exceptional circumstances. Contact the UKVI for guidance and eligibility criteria.


Congratulations on taking the first step towards securing a UK Sponsor License! This guide has equipped you with the knowledge and confidence to navigate the intricate process successfully. Remember, each organization’s journey is unique, but with the right information and mindset, success is inevitable.