Personal Immigration
Business Immigration

How Are Sponsor Licence Applications Assessed?

When you are preparing your application for a Sponsor Licence, there are various factors to consider. Our previous post, How to Apply for a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence sets out the suitability and eligibility criteria. In this article, let’s focus on the key areas when assessing Sponsor Licence applications.

Assessing Eligibility Criteria in Sponsor Licence Applications 

To meet the eligibility criteria, you need to provide the right documents to show that your business is genuine and has an operating presence in the UK. As set out in the article, Employer’s Guide to Appendix A Sponsor Licence Documents, most organisations will need to provide at least four supporting documents set out in the Appendix A. There are four tables setting out the types of documents that can be provided for different types of organisations. Go through Tables 1 to 3 to check the type of documents required for your organisation, for example, what are the documents if your organisation is subject to regulation or inspection. Then proceed to Table 4 to see all the other possible documents that can be provided to make up the minimum four documents. For start-ups, the article here provides further guidance.  

Getting the right documents is important to show that your company is genuine and operating in the UK. It is advisable to seek legal help in order to submit a fully prepared sponsor licence application. We have posted, here, about some of our skilled worker sponsor licence success stories.

Sponsor Duties When Applying for a Licence

When assessing a sponsor licence application, the Home Office may check whether you have human resource and recruitment systems in place to meet your sponsor duties. The Home Office Guidance sets out the sponsor duties as follows:

Your duties as a licensed sponsor include: 

  • reporting duties
  • record-keeping duties
  • complying with our immigration laws, including all parts of the Worker and Temporary Worker sponsor guidance
  • complying with wider UK law
  • not engaging in behaviour or actions that are not conducive to the public good

Reporting duties: When there are certain changes in the worker’s circumstances, these must be reported within 10 working days or 20 working days of the changes. For example, if the worker is absent from work for more than 10 consecutive working days without permission, this must be reported no later than 10 working days after the tenth day of absence.

Record-keeping duties: the list of documents that must be kept for each worker is published in Appendix D, which also explains how long you must keep the relevant records;

Complying with immigration laws: includes employing workers who are qualified or experienced to under the role;

Complying with wider UK law: this is other than immigration law, such as complying with illegal working legislation. Our recent post, Fines For Employing Illegal Workers Set To Rise Significantly talked about the government’s recent announcement;

Not engaging in behaviour that is not conducive to the public good: The behaviour and actions of the organisations should be in a manner that is not detrimental to the public good.

Key Personnel in Sponsor Licence Applications

To ensure that the sponsor duties are met, you must show in the sponsor licence application that you have the key personnel to carry out the relevant roles. Key Personnel include an Authorising Officer, Key Contact, Level 1 User and Level 2 User.  Some of the key personnel will have access to the sponsorship management system (‘SMS’).

Authorising Officer

An Authorising Officer should be the most senior person in your organisation who is responsible for the recruitment of migrant workers and your organisation must have an Authorising Officer throughout the licence. The Authorising Officer also ensures that all the sponsor duties are met. 

Key Contact

This person will be the main point of contact between the organisation and the Home Office. 

Level 1 User

A Level 1 User will be responsible for day-to-day management of the licence. Their responsibilities can include assigning the Certificate of Sponsorship to workers and reporting a change of circumstances on the SMS. In the initial application, your nominated Level 1 User must be an employee, partner or director. 

Level 2 User

Access is more restricted for a Level 2 User. A Level 2 User can be appointed by a Level 1 User once the sponsor licence has been granted. 

Employment Requirements for Specific Routes

When assessing applications for sponsor licence under the Skilled Worker, Scale-up or Global Business Mobility routes,  you must show that the employment is genuine and meets the salary and skill level requirements. 

Genuine Vacancy

The role must be genuine. It must not be a role that does not exist or created for the sponsored worker to come to the UK or stay in the UK. 


The sponsored worker must be paid the minimum salary specified for that route as set out in the Immigration Rules.  


The job must be at an appropriate skill level in an eligible standard occupational classification code set out in the Appendix Skilled Occupations.

Looking at Criminal Convictions and Civil Penalties in Sponsor Licence Applications

The Home Office may conduct a check on the following persons to see whether they have any criminal convictions or have been issued with any civil penalty or charge: 

  • Owner; 
  • Director; 
  • Authorising Officer;
  • Key Contact;
  • Level 1 User;  
  • Any person involved in the day-to-day running of the business;

Pre-licence Compliance Checks in Sponsor Licence Applications

After the sponsor licence application has been submitted, the Home Office may carry out a compliance check if: 

  • There is any doubt about the evidence that you have provided;
  • Further information may be required;
  • Checks with other government departments may be needed;
  • Your business has little or no physical premises;

The Home Office may conduct an announced or unannounced compliance check and interview. For more information on immigration audits, do have a read here

Contact Our Immigration Barristers

For expert advice and assistance in relation to a Sponsor Licence application, contact our  immigration barristers in London on 0203 617 9173 or via the enquiry form below.


To arrange an initial consultation meeting, call our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or fill out the form below.

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