Get the highest skilled workers for your business!

Sponsorship License (for businesses)

Note: The Work Permit (Tier 2) Visa has been replaced by the Skilled Workers visa

For your business to succeed in today’s post-Brexit UK and to be competitive in the international market, your company requires highly skilled workers – no matter their country of origin.

To be able to do this efficiently, you need to be able to navigate the policies surrounding Sponsorship Licenses and hiring workers under the Skilled Worker Visa (formerly called the Work Permit (Tier 2) Visa).

Whilst we strongly recommend that in such matter a legal expert should be consulted, if you were to hire BIAAP as your Corporate Immigration Solicitors you would benefit from the knowledge of someone highly competent in the new points-based immigration system and get our expert advise on all Sponsorship License matters such as:

  • Tier 2 Sponsorship License Applications
  • Tier 2 Sponsorship License Audits and Compliance
  • Tier 2 Sponsorship License Management
  • Tier 2 Sponsorship Guidance on Skilled Worker Visas
  • Tier 2 Sponsorship License Renewals
  • Tier 2 Sponsorship License Revocations

The requirements of a Sponsorship License will apply to your business in particular if you wish to employ non-EEA nationals or EU nationals who don’t qualify for pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. All potential future employees must meet the Skilled Worker visa criteria.

Please continue reading for some general information on this area.

What is a Sponsorship License?

A Sponsorship Licence is an agreement between your business and the Home Office giving you permission to recruit skilled workers on work visas who meet the visa requirements under the points-based Immigration system. To secure and maintain a Sponsorship Licence your company will need to comply with the rigorous Home Office Sponsor Licence reporting and recording duties.

Once your company is granted a Sponsorship Licence by the Home Office, your business will appear on the Tier 2 Sponsor List or register of Sponsor Licence holders. The Sponsor Licence is usually valid for four years and before your Sponsorship Licence expires, your company must renew the Licence if your business intends to continue employing highly skilled overseas workers on Tier 2 (General) visas or Skilled Worker visas.

There are two types of licences that employers in the UK can obtain:
  • A licence to hire skilled long-term workers under the skilled worker visa category (commonly referred to as the high skilled worker, skilled worker, temporary skilled worker, or highly skilled migrant visa) or
  • A licence to hire skilled temporary workers for those under the Tier 5 visa category of the points-based Immigration system
How do employers apply for a Sponsorship Licence, requirements, and necessary information?

The application for a Sponsorship Licence must be submitted online via the Sponsorship Management System (SMS). The Home Office therefore requires businesses to appoint one or more members of their existing staff to the following sponsorship management roles, such as:

An Authorising Officer, who is a Key Contact and a Level 1 User (responsible for the day-to-day management of the licence)

Employers must further demonstrate that:

  • The business is a genuine organisation trading lawfully in the UK
  • The Human Resources department is competent, organised, and knowledgeable on the duties and responsibilities as the Sponsor of highly skilled migrant workers on Skilled Worker visas
  • Any key staff members appointed to handle and maintain the Licence are of good character, organised and reliable

The Home Office publishes a guide, referred to as the Shortage Occupation list, which provides a list of all roles that employers struggle to fill with UK settled workers. If the job your company is recruiting for is not on the Shortage Occupation List, the job may still meet the eligibility criteria for an overseas highly skilled migrant worker to make a visa application for a Skilled Worker visa.

If your Sponsorship Licence application is approved, your company will receive a sponsorship rating. An ‘A’ rating means your business can begin employing Tier 2 skilled migrants on Skilled Worker visas from overseas and your business will be added to the Tier 2 sponsor list or register of approved Home Office sponsors.

If your company fails to meet its sponsorship obligations and duties imposed on it as a Sponsorship Licence holder, the Sponsorship Licence rating can be downgraded and eventually the Sponsorship Licence could be revoked or suspended if the company fails to take the necessary steps to meet its sponsor duties.

It is important to note that as an employer company, you are responsible for monitoring the immigration status of all Skilled Worker visas and General (Tier 2) and Work Permit (Tier 2) visa holders and you must report any issues or changes to the Home Office immediately.

Tier 2 migrant and Skilled Worker visa applications under the UK points-based Immigration system:

The Skilled Worker Visa category is part of the UK’s new post Brexit and the end of free movement points-based Immigration system allowing highly skilled workers from around the world to be sponsored by UK employers to secure employment in the UK.

The most common types of visas within the Tier 2 points-based category include:

  • The Skilled Worker visa (this used to be called the Tier 2 (General) visa): This category relates to the skilled worker and is suitable for people that can offer a skill in the UK that is needed, and which will fill a gap in the UK labour force.
  • Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) visa: This category applies to overseas workers needing to make a visa application to transfer to the UK branch of their company.
  • Sports Person visa: This category applies to professional coaches and athletes who meet the visa requirement.
  • Minister of Religion visa: This category is applicable to you if you are offered a job within a faith community in the UK.
To successfully obtain a grant of leave as a Tier 2 skilled worker migrant, the job must first meet the following requirements:

An employer who holds a Sponsorship Licence must assign a Certificate of Sponsorship and the prospective Tier 2 skilled migrant must meet the visa requirements and satisfy the required level of skill for the role.

The UK employer must offer the minimum remuneration (appropriate salary) which is dependent on the role to be filled.

The prospective Tier 2 visa holder must satisfy the maintenance requirement and the eligibility criteria for the skilled worker visa.

If you are successfully granted a Tier 2 Skilled Worker visa you have leave to enter or remain in the UK for three years following which you may be eligible to apply for an extension.

Once a skilled worker has been residing in the UK for a continuous period of five years, they may be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).

Recent Changes (and the need for specialist legal expertise):

Immigration law is constantly changing and becoming increasingly complex because of the end of free movement for EU nationals, the impact of the EU Settlement Scheme and the new points-based Immigration System introducing new visa opportunities such as the Skilled Worker visa.

If you are an employer who holds a Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence or you are intending to apply for a Sponsorship Licence, it is now more important than ever that you remain well informed of the regular changes made to the Immigration Rules, amendments to visa requirements and visa application processing and developments in other relevant legislation. Failure to adhere to the recent changes in Immigration Law will render any Sponsorship Licence application unsuccessful or put your company’s current Sponsorship Licence at risk of suspension or revocation as it is the employer’s obligation to ensure that the business is able to satisfy the relevant Sponsorship Licence requirements.

How the sponsor licence and business immigration team at BIAAP can assist:

BIAAP have an established a Sponsorship Licence and Compliance Team with a long track record of successful Sponsorship Licence applications and tackling threats of Sponsor Licences being suspended or revoked.

Our business immigration law team are committed to providing your business with proactive and easy to follow guidance, every step of the way. Our solicitors from the Business Immigration team, led by Mrs. Olagbaiye, will ensure that whether it is a Sponsorship Licence application or a work visa application for a Skilled Worker visa, your application is completed successfully, and that you understand your Sponsorship Licence duties and visa duties.

This is a complex and new area, so we re-iterate that please do contact us for:

  • Sponsorship Licences
  • Guidance on complying with the illegal workers policies and duties as a Sponsorship Licence holder
  • The array of applications under the points-based Immigration system including skilled worker visas
  • Applications for temporary workers and seasonal workers
  • Alternatives to work visas such as the Global Talent visa
  • Global Migration planning
  • Refusals and Judicial Reviews

We look forward to hearing from you!

This website is for informational purposes only and does not contain legal advice. As the law is subject to changes and updates, please do not act and/or refrain from acting based on anything you read on this site. Always seek legal assistance when required from a accredited and practicing professional i.e. solicitors. BIAAP (Brightway Immigration and Asylum Practitioners) is subject to and upholds the laws of the United Kingdom and adheres to the code of conduct required by our profession.