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Sponsor Licence Application

UK employers who wish to hire foreign workers must apply for a Sponsor Licence.

Call us on 0371 705 3851 for immediate help & assistance with your situation. We’re here to help you in person, via the phone or online.

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    Benefits of Choosing IAS for Your Sponsor Licence Needs

    Our dedicated UK corporate immigration lawyers deliver our services through a comprehensive and personalised approach suited to fit each business client that we work with.

    We can assist you in getting a UK Sponsor Licence, generating a certificate of sponsorship, and applying for a work visa for your employee. Whether this is your first application, your initial application was refused, or you were found to not be compliant in the past, we can help.

    With a successful track record, IAS eases the process for you so you can focus on other parts of your business. Here are more things you enjoy by working with us:

    Our lawyers will assess your Sponsor Licence case 1-1 to understand its unique aspects.

    We provide customised guidance for Sponsor Licence applications to increase chances of approval.

    We assist with maintaining compliance with the UK government’s rules for employing overseas workers.

    Our team offers detailed assistance in making any critical changes to the sponsor management system.

    Regardless of what your business immigration query might be, IAS is here to help and support you. Call us or enquire online to learn more about how we can help you.

    Services we Provide

    UK Sponsor Licence Application

    UK employers need to complete a sponsor licence application if they want to employ a skilled worker from overseas.

    Typically, sponsor licences fall under the categories of a Worker Licence and Temporary Worker Licence. The type of job the organisation is hiring for will determine which sponsor licence the employer needs to apply for.

    Organisations will need to fulfil a number of duties and obligations as the employer of a foreign worker, both before and during the employment. First, you must decide which company member(s) will be representing the company. Any members who represent you must be an executive/senior member of the company and not a shareholder.

    As part of the application process, you will be required to prove that you are a legitimate business which needs the use of migrant talent. To make sure that your application is successful, you can seek the assistance of IAS. Call us on  0371 705 3851 to speak with our team.

    Sponsor Licence Eligibility Requirements?

    To be eligible for a sponsor licence, the employer must:

    • Not have any unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences and other crimes such as fraud
    • Have no history of failing to carry out sponsorship duties

    The sponsor licence application process is complex and requires the employer to provide detailed information on their organisation.

    Under the UK’s new immigration system, sponsors are no longer required to conduct a Resident Labour Market test but the Home Office may still expect the employer to provide sufficient evidence to prove that the employment of the foreign worker is necessary.

    An employer can complete a sponsor licence application to sponsor either regular workers or temporary workers. The licence which the employer needs depends on the nature of work the employee will be doing.

    If the employer’s sponsor licence application is accepted, the employer must assign a Certificate of Sponsorship to each foreign worker.

    The organisation is obligated to fulfil a number of other duties and responsibilities as the employer of an overseas worker.

    Types of Sponsor Licences

    Worker Sponsor Licenses

    The Skilled Worker Visa is for long-term skilled workers who have the right to work for at least three years, and usually five. Within the Skilled Worker Visa there are sub categories which include:

    Temporary Worker Sponsor Licenses

    The Temporary Worker Visa is for skilled workers who will undertake temporary employment. The Temporary Worker Visa is divided into these subcategories:

    • Creative Worker. Up to two years for eligible creative workers
    • International Sportsperson. Up to 1 year for sportsperson, up to two years for an entertainer or artist
    • Charity worker. Up to 1 year
    • Religious worker. Up to 2 years
    • International agreement worker. When work will be carried out which is covered by international law
    • Government Authorised Exchange
    application

    How much does a sponsor licence application cost?

    The employer will need to complete the Appendix A sponsor licence form for a sponsor licence application.

    The fee for the application depends on the size of the organisation, as set out in the table below.

    LicenceSmall or charitable sponsor feeMedium or large sponsor fee
    Worker£536£1,476
    Temporary Worker£536£536
    Worker and Temporary Worker£536£1,476
    Worker added to existing Temporary Worker£0£940
    Temporary Worker added to existing Worker£0£0

    For Sponsor Licence guidance, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our immigration lawyers.

    What are the Sponsorship Management Roles?

    You will need to appoint people within your business to manage the sponsorship process when you apply for a licence. The sponsor licence operations will be conducted via the sponsorship management system (SMS).

    The specific roles which need to be filled are:

    • The key contact. They will act as the main point of contact with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)
    • Authorising officer. They must be a senior person. They will be responsible for the actions of the staff and representatives
    • Level 1 user. This person will be responsible for the day-to-day management of the licence

    These roles can be carried out by just one person if necessary. At least one level 1 user must be an employee of the company. However, other level 1 and level 2 users can be employed from third-party organisations.

    Every person who works within the sponsorship process will need to undergo certain checks, which will include an analysis of any unspent criminal convictions and whether the person has been reported to the UKVI.

    Group interviewing applicant

    What are the Required Documents for a Sponsor Licence Application?

    To support your case, you will need to send certain supporting documents. In most cases, you will need to provide at least four documents. The specific required documents vary depending on the nature of your business and the vacancy you are filling.

    • Recent financial year accounts showing active business operations.
    • Copies of goods or services contracts from the past 12 months.
    • Confirmation of a current corporate bank account with UK-registered Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority.
    • Provide a valid VAT registration certificate.
    • Submit the franchise agreement, if applicable.
    • Documented proof of business registration.
    • Endorsement from a governing body, if applicable.
    • Details of parent organisation, hierarchy, congregation size, clergy count, meeting places, and worship schedule for Religious Worker Sponsorship if applicable.
    • Proof of connection through ownership, control, or joint venture.
    • Documentation supporting your graduate training program.
    • Documents showing your business presence in the UK.
    • Proof of overseas trading activities.
    • Documentation of your planned UK expansion.
    • Depending on specific needs, additional documents may be necessary, such as an organisational hierarchy chart, employer’s liability insurance certificate, evidence of listing, self-assessment tax return, company tax return, or a premises alcohol-serving license.

    For example, if you are completing a Sponsor Licence application for a Skilled Worker Visa or Temporary Worker (Creative Worker Visa), you will need to include a document highlighting the endorsement from a governing body of the sport.

    All documentation needs to be provided within five working days of the online application. The documents should be in their original form. However, the Home Office might accept certified documents. Please note you may be required to provide more documents at the request of the Home Office.

    IAS have dealt with countless sponsor licence applications of all persuasions. With our sponsor licence guidance, we can ascertain which documents you need to include in your sponsor licence application. Call us now on 0333 305 9375 for more information.

    Types of Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)

    A sponsor licence number is a unique ID on a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), a digital document with job details for overseas workers applying for a work visa. To get a CoS, someone in your organisation applies via the Sponsorship Management System (SMS). Once approved (typically taking one day to be approved, but processing times for CoS may differ), the CoS is issued to the worker, confirming their job offer and allowing them to apply for a work visa. A CoS costs around £25 to £239. There are specific documents you need to apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship.

    There are two certificate of sponsorship types: Defined CoS for Skilled Worker visa applicants outside the UK, needing approval before assigning, and Undefined CoS for those in the UK or applying for other visas, which can be assigned without a new application each time.

    What is the Sponsor Licence rating?

    If your application is approved, your business will receive an A-rated licence and will be listed in the register of sponsors.

    If you do not meet your duties as a sponsor, your licence could be downgraded to a B rating. In this situation, the UKVI will provide you with an action plan which you will need to follow to upgrade your licence back to an A-rating. The action plan costs £1,476.

    You will not be able to issue new certificates of sponsorship until you prove that you have made improvements and upgraded back to the A-rating.

    two businessman shaking hands

    Your Responsibilities as a Sponsor

    There are many responsibilities which an employer of an overseas worker needs to fulfil, both before and during the employment.

    To obtain a UK sponsor licence, businesses must demonstrate honesty, dependability, and reliability, ensuring they have suitable HR systems, readiness for compliance visits, no criminal convictions for immigration offenses or tax evasion, no history of non-compliance with previous sponsorships, and no recent revocation of a sponsor licence.

    As an employer, you must:

    • Ensure that your foreign workers have the necessary skills and qualifications for the role, with documents to prove this
    • Only assign Certificates of Sponsorship to workers when the job is suitable for sponsorship
    • Inform the UKVI if your employee is not complying with the conditions and terms of the visa
    • Ensuring sponsored workers meet visa criteria
    • Conducting right-to-work checks
    • Storing relevant recruitment documents and reporting specific events to the Home Office.

    Contact our offices in LondonManchester, or Birmingham, or use our office finder to find your closest branch.

    Sponsor Licence Audit

    For companies with a Points-based System (PBS) Sponsor Licence, sponsor licence compliance and audits are crucial, as the Home Office may conduct visits to ensure adherence to immigration control. Failure to maintain proper procedures could lead to licence revocation and visa issues. To secure and maintain an A-rated sponsor licence, it’s essential to excel in areas such as monitoring immigration status, record-keeping, and recruitment practices.

    Your business must ensure compliance by keeping filings up to date, organising HR files, creating checklists, ensuring easy access to records, implementing systems for training and file improvements, and conducting mock audits and staff appraisals

    sponsor

    Sponsor Licence Renewal

    Businesses must renew their sponsor licence every four years to avoid interruption only if they are sponsoring Scale-up Workers or UK Expansion Workers. Renewal, before the sponsor licence expires, requires checking if all sponsorship requirements are met and necessary systems are in place. The sponsor licence renewal application fee is typically £536 for small or charitable sponsors and £1,476 for medium and large businesses, can be completed online using the Sponsorship Management System.

    Sponsor licence application rejected

    It can be a frustrating experience to have a sponsor licence application rejected. The most common reasons why an application might be rejected include the following reasons:

    • Inaccurate or misleading documents
    • Incomplete application
    • The company has had a previous sponsor licence revoked
    • The company has failed to furnish additional requested information within the given time limit

    Companies are advised to avoid having their sponsor licence application refused wherever possible because the application fee is not refunded and companies are unable to re-apply until a cooling-down period has passed.

    The length of time will depend on why the application was refused. Most companies will be unable to reapply until at least six months from the date of the refusal letter.

    If your sponsor licence application is rejected, you do not have the right to appeal the decision. You may be able to request an administrative review of the decision, but this does not guarantee that the decision will be reversed.

    The best way to prevent a rejection is to work with a qualified immigration solicitor to submit the strongest possible application, and in so doing, ensure that you can save time and money.

    As a business, you are also entitles to withdraw your sponsor licence application.

    a man checking data on his laptop

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    Table of Contents

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    There are several Sponsorship Licence requirements that you need to meet if you are an employer looking to find out how to get a Sponsor Licence and employ foreign workers.

    How to get a Sponsor Licence for your business:

    • Check that your business is eligible: to be eligible staff members must not have any history of immigration offences, crimes or past failure to meet sponsorship duties
    • Decide the type of licence you require: this is determined by the type of worker you want to sponsor (this includes skilled workers & relgious workers and temporary workers in creative, sport, youth mobility and governmental exchange)
    • Nominate the employees that will be responsible for managing your business’ sponsorship: these can’t be shareholders and they must be senior members of the company. You will need to choose at least two members to use the Sponsorship Management System (SMS)
    • Apply online and pay the Home Office fee: this varies depending on the type of visa you want to sponsor and the size of your business — £536- £1,476 for Skilled Worker only, £536 for Temporary Worker only, and £536 – £1,476 for both.

    The Home Office Sponsor Licence application fees are as follows:

    For small businesses & charities:

    • Skilled Worker – £536
    • Temporary Worker – £536
    • Skilled Worker & Temporary Worker– £536
    • Adding Skilled Worker to an existing Temporary Worker – free
    • Adding Temporary Worker to an existing Skilled Worker – free

    For medium & large businesses

    • Skilled Worker – £1476
    • Temporary Worker – £536
    • Skilled Worker & Temporary Worker – £1476
    • Adding Skilled Worker to an existing Temporary Worker £940
    • Adding Temporary Worker to an existing Skilled Worker – free

    To qualify as a small business, you must:

    • Have an annual turnover of £10.2 million maximum
    • Employ 50 employees maximum

    A Sponsor Licence number is a unique reference number or code which is issued to Sponsor Licence holders.

    If you are a Skilled Worker or Temporary Worker employee, you can find your employer’s Sponsor Licence number on your Certificate of Sponsorship.

    You need a Sponsor Licence before you can make a job offer to anyone from outside of the UK.

    To be eligible you must meet the following criteria:

    • You can prove you are a legitimate business
    • You can ensure your sponsored employee(s) passes a personality test
    • You can prove a skilled worker from outside the UK is needed for the position
    • You do not have any unspent criminal convictions
    • You do not have a history of failing to carry out sponsorship duties
    • You can pay the appropriate rate of pay for the job(s) you are conducting.

    You will need to prove that you have a legitimate business or organisation and that you have a genuine need for the migrant worker(s) you intend to employ. The Home Office may validate this by visiting your company during your application.

    You will need a Sponsor Licence if you want to employ anyone from outside of the United Kingdom who is working in the UK using:

    • A Skilled Worker Visa; or
    • A Temporary Work Visa.

    Depending on which type of worker you wish to employ, you need to make a Sponsor Licence application which is relevant to them.

    The Skilled Work Visa is also the required route for ministers of religion and elite sportspeople.

    If you are intending on transferring an employee from a foreign office to the UK, you will also need a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence.

    You do not need to apply for a Sponsorship Licence if you are intending to employ someone on a business visa, for example, an Exceptional Talent Visa.

    Please note that Tier 3 Unskilled Worker Visas have been suspended. This means that you cannot apply for a Sponsor Licence for non-EEA nationals taking on unskilled roles.

    To make an application for a Sponsor Licence, you need to meet the requirements for sponsorship as an employer.

    Below are the employer Sponsor Licence requirements at a glance:

    • You need to be a genuine organisation or business, or a sole-trader
    • You need to be legally operating from within the UK
    • Your company or any of its key personell cannot pose any sort of threat to UK immigration control and there must be no evidence of this (for example, if any staff member has a history of immigration violations)
    • You must be able to nominate at least three members of your staff to fulfill the roles laid out on the SMS
    • You must be able to keep up-to-date and organised HR systems and records
    • You must be able to produce all the documents required for your Sponsor Licence application
    • You must meet other Sponsorship Licence requirements according to the specific category which you intend to employ foreign workers under

    If your application is successful, you will be awarded a licence rating by the Home Office and placed on the UK Sponsorship Licence register.

    After this, you will be able to issue Certificates of Sponsorship to any non-EEA or Swiss nationals if you have jobs that are suitable for sponsorship.

    Your licence usually stays valid for as long as you continue to meet the eligibility requirements, unless you are sponsoring Scale-up Workers or UK Expansion Workers. If you do not adhere to your duties as a sponsor, you could face Sponsor Licence suspension, Sponsor Licence revocation, or the possibility of receiving a Civil Penalty from the Home Office.

    There are number of reasons why the Home Office refuse Sponsor Licence applications and Sponsor Licence renewals each year. The most common reasons include:

    • the business’ failure to pass the Home Office’s Compliance Audit;
    • the business’ failure to retain sufficient documentation on sponsored migrant workers;
    • the business has not informed the Home Office of significant changes to their migrant workforce;
    • the business has not responded to the Home Office’s enquiries on time;
    • the business does not pass its ‘genuineness test’; or
    • the business does not comply with the Home Office’s security standards.

    If there are any significant changes to your organisation, you must inform the UKVI within 20 working days. Your sponsor licence could be affected if you fail to inform the UKVI of changes to your organisation.

    Significant changes might include:

    • Business has become insolvent or stopped trading
    • Nature of business has changed substantially
    • Involved in a merger or take-over

    If your business moves premises or allocated roles change, you must also inform the UKVI. These changes can be amended on the SMS system.

    Your licence remains valid as long as you continue to meet the eligibility requirements. Licences for sponsoring Scale-up Workers or UK Expansion Workers are valid for 4 years. After this time, you cannot apply for another licence to sponsor these types of workers.

    The Home Office will issue automatic notifications to organisations to remind them that the licence needs to be renewed. However, it is the responsibility of the business to ensure that they comply with all deadlines.

    Sponsors can access all the information relating to the length of their licence in their sponsorship management system (SMS) account.

    To renew a Sponsor Licence after four years if you are sponsoring Scale-up Workers or UK Expansion Workers, the sponsor should submit an application via the SMS and pay the required fee. Organisations can apply to renew their Sponsor Licence no sooner than three months in advance of the expiry date.

    It is not recommended to let your Sponsor Licence expire without renewing it. The immigration status of your employees will be at risk, and there be disruption to your business’s operations if the licence expires and you continue to employ non-UK workers. The Home Office may take enforcement action against individuals who do not hold the correct immigration permission.

    It is crucial that an appropriate person in the business regularly monitors the SMS to ensure that the organisation is meeting all its regulatory requirements.

    IAS have some of the best immigration lawyers in the UK who are happy to assist you through the process of making a Sponsor Licence application. We will:

    • ensure that your business is eligible to obtain a Sponsor Licence;
    • ensure that you have all the required up-to-date employee records and HR documents;
    • ensure that all time-frames are met;
    • correspond with the Home Office on your behalf;
    • prepare you for a visit with Home Office officials;
    • make sure your business is compliant with all Home Office standards; and
    • complete your application to the highest standard before submitting.

    At IAS, we offer a tailor-made Sponsor Licence Application Package which encompasses these services. We also offer general Immigration Consultancy services, which are designed to assess and improve a UK company’s HR methods. With this, we provide an Immigration Audit, which allows our advisers to locate and resolve any issues or gaps in your records of sponsored employees. Contact us now by using our online form or calling 0333 363 8577 for more information.

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