UK Sponsorship License for Employers |License-24|

Sponsorship License

Employers seeking to hire skilled workers from outside the country must obtain a sponsorship license in the United Kingdom. This license is a crucial component of the points-based immigration system and is designed to ensure that employers adhere to specific criteria and responsibilities when bringing in international talent. The UK Home Office oversees the sponsorship process, and obtaining a license is a prerequisite for employing non-EEA (European Economic Area) nationals.

Critical Points for Employers:

Employers must operate a legitimate business in the UK, demonstrating compliance with relevant laws and regulations. It includes evidence of financial stability and a commitment to maintaining lawful employment practices.

  • Genuine Need for Skilled Workers:

A fundamental requirement for obtaining a sponsorship license is demonstrating a genuine need for skilled workers that the local labor market cannot fulfill. Employers should articulate the specific skills and expertise required for the roles they intend to fill with sponsored workers.

  • Responsibilities as a Sponsor:

Sponsors have distinct responsibilities, including compliance with immigration rules, record-keeping, and reporting duties. Employers are expected to maintain accurate and up-to-date records of sponsored workers, monitor their immigration status, and fulfill reporting obligations to the Home Office.

  • Maintenance and Accommodation:

Employers must ensure that sponsored workers meet minimum maintenance and accommodation requirements. This involves providing a safe and suitable living place and sometimes supporting employees in meeting financial thresholds.

The application process for a sponsorship license involves submitting detailed information about the business, its operations, and its intended use. The Home Office assesses applications based on various criteria to determine eligibility.

Who is eligible for a sponsor license in the UK?

The main categories for sponsor licenses are:

Tier 2 (General) Sponsorship (Work):

  • The employer must have a legitimate business in the UK.
  • The company must meet the maintenance and accommodation requirements for sponsored workers.
  • The employer must be able to demonstrate a genuine need for the role being filled by the sponsored worker.

Tier 4 Sponsorship (Student):

  • Educational institutions, such as universities and colleges, can apply for a sponsor license to sponsor international students.
  • The institution must be a genuine educational institution with a history of compliance with immigration laws.

Tier 5 Sponsorship (Temporary Workers):

  • This includes various categories such as creative and sporting, charity workers, religious workers, and more.
  • The eligibility criteria depend on the specific category under Tier 5.


Employers must meet the following requirements to obtain a license:

  • Unspent criminal convictions for immigration offenses or certain other crimes, like fraud and money laundering
  • In the last 12 months, I had a sponsor license revoked

The management of Sponsorship in your business will require appropriate monitoring systems.

A review of your application form and supporting documents will take place by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). You may be asked to visit your business place to prove you’re a trustworthy and capable employee.

There are several types of licenses.

The license you need depends on whether the workers you want for your jobs are:

  • Workers‘ – skilled or long-term employees
  • The term’ temporary workers’ refers to specific types of temporary employment

The license can cover either type of worker or both types.

License for workers

When you hold a ‘Worker’ license, you can sponsor people for various types of skilled employment. According to the worker’s visa, the professional work can be short-term, long-term, or permanent.

The license is split into:

  • The role must meet the job suitability requirements for a skilled worker.
  • This visa is for multinational companies that wish to transfer established employees to the UK, formerly the Intra-company Transfer visa.
  • For people coming to work for religious organizations, Minister of Religion
  • The International Sportsperson program is intended for elite athletes and coaches based in the UK.

A temporary worker’s license

You can sponsor people temporarily with a ‘Temporary Worker’ license, including volunteering and job shadowing. A Temporary Worker license is only available for certain types of employment and visas.

The license is split into:

  • Scale-up Worker – for those looking to join a fast-growing UK company.
  • Work in the creative industry, such as an entertainer or artist (up to 2 years).
  • For unpaid workers at charities (up to 1 year)
  • Worker in a religious order or organization (2 years)
  • Government-authorized exchange – work experience (1 year), research projects or training, for example, practical medical or scientific training (2 years) to facilitate a short-term knowledge exchange.
  • When the worker comes to perform a job covered by international law, for example, an employee of an overseas government.
  • A graduate trainee (global business mobility) is a worker who transfers to their employer’s UK branch as part of a graduate training program.
  • Workers with a contract to provide services for a UK company (6 or 12 months)
  • Workers sent to the UK to open a new branch or subsidiary of a foreign company (UK Expansion Worker – Global Business Mobility)
  • A secondment worker (global business mobility) is an overseas worker who transfers to another UK company as part of a high-value contract.

Certificate of Sponsorship:

Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is crucial in sponsoring a migrant worker or employee to work in the United Kingdom under the points-based immigration system. Here is a general overview of the steps to get a Certificate of Sponsorship:

Apply for a Sponsor License: Before issuing a Certificate of Sponsorship, your organization needs to hold a valid Sponsor License. You must apply for a Sponsor License through the UK Home Office. The application process involves providing information about your organization, its operations, and its ability to meet sponsorship responsibilities.

Choose the Correct Sponsorship Category: Depending on the type of worker you intend to sponsor (e.g., skilled worker, intra-company transfer, student), you must choose the appropriate sponsorship category when applying for a Certificate of Sponsorship.

Assign Certificate of Sponsorship: Once your Sponsor License is approved, you can assign Certificates of Sponsorship to individual workers. For each sponsored worker, you need to generate a unique CoS through the Sponsorship Management System (SMS) provided by the Home Office.

Provide Required Information: When generating a Certificate of Sponsorship, you must provide specific information about the sponsored worker, such as their personal details, job role, salary, and other relevant details. The accuracy of this information is crucial. 

Meet Salary and Skill Level Requirements: Ensure that the job role you are sponsoring meets the required skill level and salary threshold set by the UK Home Office. Different rules apply to different categories of sponsored workers.

Inform the Sponsored Worker: Once the CoS is assigned, inform the sponsored worker of their Certificate of Sponsorship reference number. They will need this number when applying for a UK work visa.

Worker Applies for Visa: The sponsored worker can use the Certificate of Sponsorship reference number to apply for a visa to work in the UK. They must provide the CoS details as part of their visa application.

Applying for a sponsor license

Application for sponsorship license completion

SMS (Sponsorship Management System) provides online access to the license application form.

This system is relatively straightforward, but it is an older system, and it is recommended that applications save their data regularly to avoid losing any data.

The form will require the following:

  • Specify which type of license you will apply for
  • Contact information
  • Nominate the critical personnel on the license.
  • List the supporting documents submitted.

While the form can be completed with the guidance of a legal representative, the rules are clear that a relevant person from the organization must ultimately’ press the button’ and apply to the Home Office.

The license application fee must be paid at this stage (see below for details).

After payment of the fee, a submission sheet will be generated, which must be signed by the AO and submitted with the supporting documents.

Guidelines for sponsor licenses

The rules on sponsoring workers are contained in various Home Office guidance documents, including Sponsorship: Guidance for Employers and Educators, ‘Workers and Temporary Workers – guidance for Sponsors Part 1: apply for a License’ and ‘Sponsor a Worker: Sponsor Guidance Part 2’, as well as the supporting appendices.

To understand what a sponsor license allows, how to make an application, and what sponsors are required by law to comply with sponsor license duties, employers need to work through and piece together a considerable amount of information.

We will explain the requirements employers must meet when applying for a sponsor license and the duties they must fulfill once they have earned the license.

We will share insight into what the Home Office’s UK Visas & Immigration Department (UKVI) is looking for in a successful sponsor license application. Besides preparing for the license application, we also cover the practicalities of submitting it and what to do if it is approved, rejected, or refused.

Our discussion will also focus on other key aspects of the sponsorship license application process that employers may be unfamiliar with but play a critical role in securing a sponsorship license.

Future Trends in Sponsorship Licenses

Evolving Trends

As regulations evolve, staying informed is vital. This section discusses emerging trends and how employers can stay ahead of the curve.

Comparative Analysis

Compare sponsorship licenses with alternative immigration options for employers. Weigh the pros and cons to make informed decisions.


In conclusion, navigating the path to an employer sponsorship license opens doors to a global talent pool. By understanding the intricacies, fulfilling responsibilities, and staying compliant, businesses can thrive and contribute to a diverse and skilled workforce.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: How long does it take to obtain a sponsorship license?

  • A: The duration varies, but a well-prepared application can expedite the process.

Q: What happens if an employer fails to comply with sponsorship obligations?

  • A: Non-compliance can lead to severe consequences, including license revocation.

Q: Can small businesses benefit from sponsorship licenses?

  • A: Businesses of all sizes can leverage sponsorship licenses to access specialized skills.

Q: Are there restrictions on the types of jobs that can be sponsored?

  • A: Some restrictions exist, but many occupations can be sponsored.

Q: How can employers stay updated on changing sponsorship license regulations?

  • A: Regularly checking official immigration websites and consulting legal experts is recommended.