Sponsor Licence Applications & Management

You will usually need a sponsor licence to employ someone to work for you from outside the UK. This includes citizens of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland and who arrived in the UK after 31 December 2020.

This includes unpaid work, like running a charity.


You will not need a licence to sponsor certain groups, for example:


  • Irish citizens
  • Those with settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme
  • Those with indefinite leave to remain in the UK


Sponsoring someone does not guarantee that they will get a visa to work for you in the UK.


To get a licence as an employer, you cannot have:

Upsent criminal conviction for immigration offences or certain other crimes, such as fraud or money laundering

Had a sponsor licence revoked in the last 12 months.

You will need an appropriate system in place to monitor sponsored employees and people to manage sponsorship in your business.

Job Suitability

You can sponsor a worker if the job they are going to do has a suitable rate of pay and skill level, or meet the other criteria needed for their visa.


After you apply

You will be given a licence rating if your application is successful.

You will be able to issue certificates of sponsorship if you have jobs that are suitable for sponsorship.

Your licence will be valid for 4 years. You may lose your licence if you do not meet your responsibilities as a sponsor.


Types of Licence

The licence you need depends on whether the workers you want to fill your jobs are:

‘Workers’ – for skilled or long-term employment

‘Temporary Workers’ – for specific types of temporary employment

You can apply for a licence covering one or both types of workers.


Worker Licence

A ‘Worker’ licence will let you sponsor people in different types of skilled employment. The skilled employment. The skilled work can be for a short time, long-term or permanent depending on the worker’s visa.

The licence is split into:

  • Skilled Worker – the role must meet the job suitability requirements
  • Senior or Specialist Worker Visa (Global Business Mobility) – for multinational companies which need to transfer establish employees to the UK, previously the Intra-company Transfer Visa
  • Minister of Religion – for people coming to work for a religious organisation
  • International Sportsperson – for elite sportspeople and coaches who will be based in the UK


Temporary Worker Licence

A ‘Temporary Worker’ licence will let you sponsor people on a temporary basis, including volunteering and job-shadowing. You can only get a Temporary Worker licence for specific types of employment and visas.

The licence is split into:

  • Creative Worker – to work in the creative industry, for example as an entertainer or artist (up to 2 years)
  • Charity Worker – for unpaid workers at a charity (up to 1 year)
  • Religious Worker – for those working in a religious order or organisation (2 years)
  • Government Authorised Exchange – work experience (1 year), research projects or training, for example practical medical or scientific training (2 years) to enable a short-term exchange of knowledge
  • International Agreement – where the worker is coming to do a job which is covered by international law, for example employees of overseas governments
  • Graduate Trainee (Global Business Mobility) – for workers transferring to their employer’s UK branch as part of a graduate training programme
  • Service Supplier (Global Business Mobility) – for workers with a contract to provide service for a UK company (6 – 12 months)
  • UK Expansion Worker (Global Business Mobility) – for workers sent to the UK to set up a new branch or subsidiary of an overseas business
  • Secondment Worker (Global Business Mobility) – for workers transferring from overseas to work for a different UK business as part of a high-value contract
  • Seasonal Worker – for those coming to the UK to work in ‘edible horticulture’ for up to 6 months (for example, picking fruit and vegetables)

You can also use the Seasonal Worker Visa to sponsor:

  • Pork Butchery Workers for up to 6 months


Sponsorship Management Roles

You need to appoint people within your business to manage the sponsorship process when you apply for a licence. The main tool they will use is the Sponsorship Management System (SMS)

The roles are:

  • Authorising officer – a senior or competent person responsible for the actions of staff and representatives who use the SMS
  • Key Contact – your main point of contract with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)
  • Level 1 User – Responsible for all day-to-day management of your licence using the SMS

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

You can also appoint an optional level 2 user once you have your licence. This is an SMS user with more restricted access than a level 1 user, for example they cannot withdraw a certificate of sponsorship.


Suitability Check

You and your staff will be checked to make sure you are suitable for these roles.

You may not get your licence if anyone involved in sponsorship has:

  • An unspent criminal conviction or an offence listed in the guidance for sponsors
  • Been fined by UKVI in the past 12 months
  • Been reported to UKVI
  • Broken the law
  • Been a ‘key person’ at a sponsor that had its licence revoked in the last 12 months
  • Failed to pay VAT or other excise duty

You and your allocated staff must also:

  • Be based in the UK most of the time
  • Not be a contractor or consultant contracted for a specific project
  • Not be subject to a bankruptcy restriction order or undertaking, or a debt relief restriction order or undertaking
  • Not have a history of non-compliance with sponsor requirements

Your allocated staff must usually be paid members of staff, or office holders.

At least one level 1 user must be your employee.

You can have additional level 1 or level 2 users who are employed by third-party organisations that provide you with HR services.

A temporary member of staff supplied by an agency can be a level 2 user.

You can allocate any of the roles to a UK-based legal representative, apart from the authorising officer role.  Your representative must be qualified to give immigration advice or services.

How to Apply

If you wish to apply, talk with our team who will advise you on your position and complete the form and collect any necessary documentation from you that will help make the application successful.

Why choose us

Our team will collaborate with you to make sure that your application is filled in correctly and that all the correct supporting documents are provided. We will also provide a supporting letter setting out your circumstances in detail to Home Office. This will put the Application in the best position on submission. Please contact our solicitors on 01482 616 616 or via our online contact form and we will get back to you.

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Contact Us

Fill this form to get rapid, skilled legal support for your business quickly at this critical time. We respond within 24 hours.

Inner Page Contact Request Form