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What Documents Will I Need to Apply for a Sponsor Licence?

You can earn an A-list sponsor licence rating and become a part of the UK’s most trusted organisations by submitting the right documents to the Home Office for your sponsor licence application.

Our team of expert immigration lawyers have the in-depth understanding to provide the specific sponsor licence guidance that suits your situation. Call us on 0330 311 6351 or contact us online right away!


What Is a Sponsor Licence?

sponsor licence (formerly called Tier 2 sponsor licence) permits UK employers to hire skilled workers from EU and non-EEA countries or within the UK (when applicants switch from other visa routes into the Skilled Worker route).

An approved sponsor licence application is valid for four years with a renewal option. To kick-start the application process, you will need to fill the online application form on the Home Office website. Get ready to provide evidence supporting your eligibility to obtain the licence by proving you meet the sponsorship licence application requirements.

Eligibility Requirements for a Sponsor Licence

Only organisations can obtain a valid sponsor licence in the UK. Private individuals cannot obtain the licence except if they operate a sole-proprietorship. To meet the suitability criteria for a licence application, your business or organisation must be legally operational in the UK.

UK employers operating virtually may also apply for a sponsor licence, but they must be able to verify their ability to perform their sponsor duties and obligations. By applying for a sponsor licence as a UK employer, you are accepting all sponsor licence holder responsibilities towards the intending visa applicant.

One skilled worker sponsor licence may cover all your UK entities if you run many branches but your situation may require obtaining a sponsor licence for each branch of your business.

In some cases, the sponsor licence requirement includes registering with or getting approval from a regulatory body to legally operate in the UK. You will need to provide proof of compliance to proceed with your licence application.

Fortunately, the Resident Labour Market Test now makes it possible to apply for a licence before having a candidate or job title in mind. UKVI is willing to consider any UK employer who meets the eligibility and suitability criteria.

Sponsor licence applicants who are interested in the pre-licence priority service must first complete the UKVI registration which will grant them access to the log-in page to complete the online sponsor licence application form. This opportunity is not available for sponsor licence applications that have been assigned to caseworkers.

The Home Office may conduct pre-licence visits if they have any reasons to be concerned about the evidence you provide or know little about you. Among other things, they must be able to confirm that you are offering genuine employment. The visit may be conducted with your authorising officer if you operate a virtual model or have little physical presence.

Sponsor Licence Documentation Requirements

Appendix A by the Home Office is the sponsor guidance on the mandatory documents for all sponsor licence application process including UK expansion worker route. In most instances, you are required to provide a minimum of 4 documents or a combination of 4 documents where stated.

The specific document you will submit depends on the entity you are representing which may be a start-up, SME, franchise or a public body. Exceptions to these requirements exist for companies that are listed on the London Stock Exchange major market and any public body already recognised by the UK government in the corporate report.

Documents for Specific Bodies and Organisations

Type of OrganisationDocuments Required
Public bodies not recognised by the U.K. governmentDocumentary evidence from your sponsoring government department orA covering email or letter giving the name of your sponsoring departmentAny required mandatory document

Documents for Start-Ups, Franchises, Charities and Organisations

Type of OrganisationDocuments Required
Conditions:Application date of 18 months or belowApplication not done under the Global Business Mobility (U.K. Expansion Worker) route
A current corporate account with an authorised bankA certificate of VAT registrationA letter detailing your dealings from your corporate banking providerAny required mandatory document
Businesses requiring a statutory body registration, inspection or monitoring, such as nursing/care homes and other businesses, financial or insurance businesses and healthcare and medical providersLast inspection report (if licence application was made with a different name), or covering email/letter specifying the name used.Evidence of any registration for each branch (where multiple branches are involved)Documentary evidence of your registration (with any regulatory body apart from Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission, the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority, the General Medical Council or General Dental Council or the equivalent bodies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland)Any required mandatory document
CharityProof that you have obtained charitable status from HMRC (for charities based in Northern Ireland)Proof of establishment for charitable purposes (for ecclesiastical corporations)Explain why you are not registered with the relevant charity legislation (where applicable)
FranchiseFranchise Agreement signed by both parties
Food businessScores on the Doors rating or a letter from the authority that approved you

Documents for Route-Specific Documents

RouteDocuments Required
International SportspersonA copy of the approved endorsement from the relevant governing body including the unique reference numberGlobal Business Mobility (GBM)
Service SupplierProof that you have been awarded a services contract for a period of 12 months or less
Government Authorised ExchangeProof of support by an endorsing government department (with approval from the Home Office)Mandatory documents
Seasonal WorkerA copy of your endorsement
T2 (Minister of Religion)Religious WorkerProvide information about:Your faith/religionDetails of your parent organisation and your connection to themA hierarchy chart showing your position (where applicable)The size of your adult congregationThe number of clergy you currently employ (where applicable)Contact details of your regular meeting placesWorship scheduleA copy of your ‘Form 76’ from theGeneral Register Office (where applicable)A copy of ‘Form 78’ from the GeneralRegister Office (where applicable)Any required mandatory document
GBM: Senior or Specialist WorkerGBM: Graduate TraineeSend one of these:Head Office’s audited accounts or audited annual report (linking the 2 entities)An affidavit highlighting all of the connected entities signed by a senior partner/executiveA notarised statement by the company secretary of the organisation (if it is registered on the London Stock Exchange or an FCA approved international stock exchanges)Certified copy of the share register or equivalent of one or other of the entities to prove a common parent companyCertified copy of the agreement that allows one entity to control the composition of the other entity’s board membersCertified copy of the agreement that allows one entity to cast or control the casting ofmore than half the maximum number of votes that might be cast at a general meeting of the other entityCertified copy of the joint venture agreementCertified copy of the agreement to constitute a joint venture agreementCertified copy of the agreement on trademark usage (applicable to accountancy or law firms)Certified copy of the agreement allowing operations with the same nameArticles of Association
GBM: Graduate TraineeEvidence of link by common ownership or controlEvidence of your graduate training programmeEvidence of the recruitment for the programmeAny required mandatory document
GBM: UK Expansion WorkerProof of your UK ‘footprint’Evidence of your overseas trading presenceEvidence of your planned expansion to the UKat least one of these:Annual reports and investor informationEvidence of engagement with, or advice sought from, specialist advice companiesDetails of any current or future recruitment campaigns in the UKArticles of Association for your overseas business or equivalent documentDetails of any tendering or business expansion plans
GBM: Secondment WorkerEvidence you have a contract with an overseas business that meets the stipulated amountAny required mandatory document

Table 4 Other Required Documents

Evidence of employer’s liability insurance cover for at least £5m from an authorised insurer.Proof of your listing on the London Stock Exchange AIM market.Proof of your listing on one of the Financial Conduct Authority approved international stock exchanges.Certificate of VAT registrationLatest acknowledgement of CT620, or CT600 and the CT603 notice.Proof of registration with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) as an employerEach partner’s Unique Tax Reference Number (UTR) and/or the Partnerships/Businesses Unique Tax Reference Number (UTR).Current financial report or audited annual report showing the accountant’s nameEvidence of submitting returns to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC)Evidence that you have the appropriate planning permission for your type of business at your trading addressProof of ownership or lease of your business premises

Our expert team of immigration lawyers can help you obtain a sponsor licence.

Are Original Copies of Documentation Required for the Sponsor Licence Application?

Proof of registration and evidence of registration documentations issued by HMRC must be original or certified copies. However documents can now be emailed to the Home Office and the sponsor licence application process can be initiated online. This has created a long-term change to the procedures for licence applications.

a visa application composition with passport

Routes to Sponsor Workers

Once a foreigner meets the required skill level, experience and qualification, they can become sponsored workers. There are two main routes to employ skilled workers that are foreign nationals; the worker routes and the temporary worker routes.

The Worker Routes

Skilled worker visa route: The minimum requirement for skilled worker sponsor licence is level 3 on the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) for the UK and Northern Ireland. Its equivalence is the A-Levels for other countries according to the new Skilled Worker route which replaced the previous Tier 2 (General) route.

Global Business Mobility: Formerly known as the Intra-Company Transfer route, it involves senior managers or specialist foreign workers in multinational companies who are available for job openings that cannot be filled by the settled or EEA workers.

Minister of Religion (Tier 2): It refers to foreigners who have a job offer for an opening in a faith-based community as a minister to engage in pastoral activities, preach, function as missionary or belong as a member of a religious order.

International Sportsperson: They are reputable foreigners who have received job offers as elite sportspersons or coaches in the country. Their contribution would further benefit UK sports at the highest level.

The Temporary Worker Routes

Charity worker: Sponsor licence holders can sponsor a foreigner for voluntary work with a non-profit organisation. The validity period for this immigration route is one year maximum.

Creative worker: This is the route for creatives who want to work in the UK as an artist, musician, dancer, entertainer, or a fashion model. Its validity period is at most, 12 months, but there can be an extension by 12 months for the same sponsor.

Global Business Mobility (GBM) routes: Some updates were made on the UK immigration rules for sponsors of temporary workers following this route as follows:

  • Graduate trainee – formerly Intra-Company Graduate Trainee route
  • UK Expansion Worker – replacement for the unsponsored Sole Representative provisions of the Representative of an Overseas Business
  • Service Supplier – replacement for the provisions for contractual service suppliers and independent professionals on the International Agreement route
  • Secondment Worker – A new immigration route for sponsored workers working in the UK temporarily as part of a high-value contract or investment by their overseas employer

Other temporary routes include government authorised exchange, international agreement, religious worker, scale-up (also a new route) and seasonal worker.

Get in touch with our expert team of immigration lawyers to get assistance for obtaining a sponsor licence

Key Personnel for the Licence Application

Appointing key personnel within your organisation to liaise with the Home Office is among the sponsor licence requirements. The appointees should be resident in the UK and pass Home Office’s character and background checks. The main roles include:

  • Authorising officer – The most important role that should be overseen by a senior employee within the HR department
  • Key contact –  This person becomes the first point of contact with the Home Office and is best suited for a legal representative.
  • Level 1 user –  Manages the licence through the sponsorship management system (SMS) online portal.
  • Level 2 user – Has access to the sponsor management system but fewer permissions than level 1 users

Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)

The Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is a confirmation issued by the UK employer to their migrant worker. It is a reference number to indicate that the supporting documents and other necessary requirements have been met. Certificate of Sponsorship exists in two forms:

Defined CoS

Applicable when the skilled worker visa applicant lives outside the UK and will also apply for entry clearance.

Undefined CoS

Applicable for migrant workers already in the UK who are applying for a skilled worker visa to remain in the UK.

Get in touch with our expert immigration lawyers, so they can help you obtain a sponsor licence.

How to Submit an Online Sponsor Licence Application

While the application form must be submitted by the authorising officer using the submission sheet, your legal representative should supervise the entire process to ensure compliance. The submission sheet and other supporting documents must be sent to the Home Office by email within five working days.

Sponsor Licence Application Fee

The sponsor licence fee depends on the type and size of your organisation and is as follows:

Type of LicenceFee for Small OrganisationsFee for Medium or Large Organisations
Temporary Worker£536£536
Worker and Temporary Worker£536£1,476
Adding a Worker license to an existing Temporary Worker license£940
Adding a Temporary Worker license to an existing Worker license

Need help with your sponsor licence? Get in touch with our immigration team.

How can IAS Help

The introduction of the new points-based system has enlarged the scope of migrant workers that can be sponsored to work in the UK. With this possibility, you need to secure your access to the best talent in your field.

Whether you need a skilled worker or a temporary worker, you want to be sure you meet the eligibility requirement, suitability criteria and submit the right documentation to clear your path to become a sponsor.

Our team of professional immigration attorneys are here to provide any assistance you need with UK sponsorship requirements. Call us on 0330 311 6351 or contact us online.

Get in touch with our expert immigration lawyers to Apply for a Sponsor Licence Application.

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