UK Sponsorship Licence

A sponsor licence (previously known as a Tier 2 sponsor licence) permits UK-based businesses to hire talented employees from across the world. Any UK firm that wants to hire foreign workers almost always needs a valid sponsor licence. 

International employees, such as those on Skilled visas, Intra-Company visas, or temporary work visas, require a sponsor licence to enter the country and work. This category includes unpaid employment such as operating a charity and other altruistic activities. 

A sponsor licence is also necessary for citizens of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland who arrive in the UK after December 31, 2020.

The licence will be valid for four years once it is authorised, with the possibility to renew it. 

Sponsoring someone, however, does not ensure that they will be granted a visa to work in the United Kingdom.

What are the prerequisites for obtaining a sponsor licence?

Your organisation must have a UK presence and be operating or trading lawfully in the UK to be eligible to apply for a sponsor licence. If you have numerous UK branches, you can apply for a single licence that covers all of your linked UK organisations, or you can apply for individual licences for each branch, depending on your needs.

You must produce documentation that you (and any branches covered by the licence) are registered with the appropriate entity if you are required to be registered with or inspected/monitored by a statutory body to operate lawfully in the UK. You may also be required to provide proof that you have the necessary planning approval or consent from the local planning authority to operate your type of business at your trading address.

The Home Office must be convinced that you can provide genuine employment in a skilled occupation and that you will pay the relevant wage rate as set by the Home Office.

As part of your licence application, you agree to accept all of the responsibilities that come with holding a sponsor licence.

Private persons are not usually qualified to be recognised as sponsors, however, there is an exemption if the individual is a trader who wishes to sponsor someone to work for them.

To apply for a sponsor licence, what documents will I need?

With the Skilled Worker (previously Tier 2 General) licence application, you will normally be required to provide a minimum of four obligatory papers. The number of documents you’ll need varies depending on whether you’re representing a government agency, a startup, a franchise, or a small business. Documents that are simple to obtain include:

  • The most recent bank statement for your firm.
  • Employer’s liability insurance with a minimum limit of £5 million from a reputable provider.
  • VAT registration certificate
  • Evidence of HMRC employer registration, such as a PAYE and Accounts Office Reference Number.
  • Proof of company premises ownership, lease, or rent agreement.
  • Accounts that have recently been audited or that have not been audited (audited accounts are mandatory if your company is legally obliged to file audited accounts).
  • Evidence of your registration if you are required to be registered with and/or inspected/monitored by a regulatory body to operate lawfully in the UK.
  • If you’re asking for a sponsor licence under the Intra-Firm Transfer subcategory, you’ll additionally need to show proof of common ownership between the UK and the foreign company.

There are multiple kinds of sponsor licences, each with its own set of supporting documentation that must be presented. Our team can help you decide which sort of visa you need and create a custom document checklist for you.

It is possible to apply for many subcategories of sponsor licence at the same time if the requirements are completed and the proper evidence is supplied.

What are the different types of ‘Worker’ licences?

1. Expert Worker (formerly Tier 2 General)

The Skilled Worker route is created specifically for migrants who have been offered work in the United Kingdom. This is the most common way for skilled employees from outside the UK to enter the country.

2. The intra-company transfer (ICT) route

The ICT path is for migrants who have been offered a temporary post in the UK office by their overseas employer. The individual must have worked for the organisation for at least 12 months unless the salary package exceeds £73,900.

3. Participant in sports

Professional athletes and competent coaches cannot be sponsored under the Skilled Worker method; instead, they must apply through the distinct Sportsperson visa (T2) route.

4. Religious ministers

This licence is for persons who have been offered a position in a faith community, such as a religious minister or a missionary. It must be a pastoral role unless the position is in a high position within the organisation (involving primarily pastoral duties). 

Within a faith organisation, roles such as teaching, media creation, and administration may not qualify for sponsorship through the Minister of Religion route, and the organisation may need to seek a Skilled Worker licence instead.

Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)

After a licence is issued, an electronic document called a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is generated on the Sponsor Management System (SMS).

To sponsor a migrant worker, the firm must first send an SMS to the Home Office requesting a Certificate of Sponsorship. Once this has been approved, the employer must assign it to the migrant worker they wish to sponsor to generate a unique reference number for the candidate to use when submitting their visa application.

The Home Office has rebranded its previous two forms of CoS based on the migrant worker’s immigration status under new sponsor licencing criteria.

We’re here to assist you!

A Y & J Solicitors’ profesional immigration lawyers have a thorough understanding of Sponsor Licence applications. Our consultants have significant experience assisting businesses in obtaining and maintaining Skilled Worker sponsor licences. Please contact us if you have any questions about UK immigration legislation.