Get support from A&P

Sponsorship License UK for Visa application

In most cases, to be able to work in the UK, a foreign national must have been officially sponsored by an employer holding a sponsorship license.

Table of Contents

Based in Italy and active Worldwide

We are Relocation Experts

ISO 9001 Certified

A Sponsorship License in the UK allows organizations to employ foreign nationals. It involves a formal application process and compliance with immigration rules and regulations. Employers must apply for a sponsorship license UK directly to the Home Office.

Before granting it, the Home Office will make sure to verify that the employer is a real, financially stable business and the roles sponsored are credible and in line with qualification and remuneration.  

In fact, companies must sponsor workers for real needs and not create roles just to facilitate the entry into the UK of a specific worker. Once the sponsorship license is obtained, the employer can decide to sponsor different types of UK work visas.  

Types of UK Sponsorship license

There are different types of sponsor license. Employers must make sure they apply for the correct one, to avoid potential problems.

The correct license depends on whether the prospective workers are categorized as

  • Workers” – for skilled or long-term employment; or
  • Temporary workers” – for specific types of temporary employment. 

The good news is that it is possible to apply for a broad license covering for both types of workers.  

Which visa types can be sponsored under a “worker license”?

A worker license will allow employers to sponsor:  

  • Skilled Worker visas: it is the main UK work visa intended for skilled overseas workers who will be hired by UK employers (also known as former Tier 2 general visa); 
  • Senior or Specialist Worker visas (Global Business Mobility strategy): this is intended for existing employees of an overseas business with a branch or a subsidiary in the UK, who are assigned to work for that UK branch or subsidiary for a temporary period

Which visa types can be sponsored under a “temporary worker license”?

A temporary worker license, instead, will allow employers to sponsor:  

  • Service supplier visas (Global Business Mobility strategy): it allows workers to move to the UK to work for a UK licensed employer for a temporary period;
  • UK expansion worker visas (Global Business Mobility strategy): it is intended for workers sent to the UK to set up a new branch or subsidiary of an overseas business.  

How do I check my UK sponsor license?

If you are an employer and you applied for a sponsorship license, you can regularly check it through the so-called Sponsorship Management System (SMS).  

The SMS can also be used to take actions such as to:

  • manage or renew the license;
  • create and assign Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) for new candidates;
  • report changes to the sponsored employees; or
  • report changes occurred to the business (such as a change of owner or location).  

Sponsorship license requirements UK

What are the requirements for sponsorship in the UK?

To start with, a UK business that wants to apply for a sponsorship license will need to appoint people – within the business – who can perform some specific roles.  

Such roles are:  

  • Authorizing officer: this role must be covered by a senior and competent person who will be responsible for the actions of the staff and representatives who use the SMS;
  • Key contact person: This is the main point of contact with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) 
  • Level 1 user: this is someone responsible for all day-to-day management of their license. Once the license is set up, the business can also appoint an optional level 2 user. Such users have restricted access (they can manage the SMS but with some restrictions to the actions they can complete). 

These three roles can be filled by the same person or even by different people.

Who is eligible for sponsor license UK?

The staff members who apply for the above-mentioned three roles must undergo suitability checks first. These checks may involve making sure that the staff does not have any unspent criminal convictions, has not been fined by UKVI in the past 12 months or has not broken the law.  

Furthermore, the staff must be based in the UK most of the time and it must not be a contractor, or a consultant contracted for a specific project. Moreover, it does not have to be subject to a bankruptcy restriction order or not have a history of non-compliance with sponsor requirements.  

Finally, the staff members allocated for such roles must be paid members of the company or office holders.  

Can the company delegate third parties to undertake the mandatory roles? 

Based on the UK government guidelines, at least one level 1 user must be an employee, partner, or director in the company. However, the company can decide to have additional level 1 or level 2 users employed by third-party organizations.  

The company can also decide to allocate any of the roles to a UK-based legal representative (apart from the authorizing officer role). The appointed UK-based legal representative must be qualified to provide immigration advice.  

Applying for sponsorship license UK 

The application for UK sponsorship license is submitted online.  

As part of the application process, the employer must send supporting documents. These supporting documents vary according to the organization type (whether it is start-up, a small or medium-large company) and the chosen visa route (global business mobility, skilled worker, etc.).

How long does it take to get a sponsorship license UK? 

Usually, these types of applications are managed in maximum 8 weeks. However, it is possible to purchase a priority service to get a decision in 10 working days.  

However, the priority service is limited to a fixed number of applications each working day. Thus, it is not always guaranteed that it will be available for your application.  

How long is a sponsorship valid for UK? 

Once the application is approved, the sponsor will get an A-rated license which can be used to assign Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS).  

Such sponsorship license is usually valid for 4 years.  

What is the register of licensed sponsors in the UK? 

Once your license is approved, your business will be included in the register of licensed sponsors. This register is a list of the organizations authorized to sponsor workers on the Worker or Temporary Worker immigration routes.   

Sponsorship license cost UK

When applying for a sponsorship license, employers must pay the relevant government fees. The amount of the fee depends on the type of license you are applying for and your organization type.  

For small or charitable organizations, the fee to apply for a “worker license” is equal to £536. For medium or large sponsors, instead, the fee to apply for a “worker license” is equal to £1,476.  

Fees may be subject to variation as they are adjusted by the UK government from time to time. 

Can the sponsorship license be revoked? 

The license may be downgraded or even revoked if the sponsor does not fulfil their responsibility. This includes checking that the workers to be sponsored have the necessary skills and qualifications and comply with UK employment law. 

Furthermore, the sponsor must have a HR monitoring system in place, to make sure that:

  • the worker’s immigration status is monitored (e.g., by keeping copies of the worker’s documents);
  • their work attendance is tracked, and
  • any problem is promptly reported to UKVI.  

Finally, the sponsor must report to UKVI any significant change to their business. Significant changes may include:

  • circumstances where the business has stopped trading or become insolvent;
  • the nature of the business has substantially changed, or
  • the company is involved in a merger or take-over.  

How to reapply

If you did not fulfil your responsibilities as a sponsor, your A-rated license may be downgraded to a B-rated one. In this case, you will not be allowed to issue new certificates of sponsorship until you have made improvements to upgrade back to an A-rating.  

To upgrade the license, you will have to follow a so-called “action plan”. Once completed all the steps, the license will be A-rated again.   

Sponsors can only have a maximum of two B-ratings during the 4 years of license validity.

If they fail to follow the action plan, the license will be revoked. In this case, the sponsor will have to wait at least 12 months before they can reapply for a new license.  

Get a Free Quote

Regulatory Framework

Home Office – UK Visas and Immigration


Don't miss out on the latest updates

Get free updates from our Experts on Immigration, Posting Workers, International Taxation and more.