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Pre-Licence Priority Service Sponsor Licence Guide

When a company wishes to employ workers from overseas, they will need to have a sponsor licence to sponsor the workers.  This applies to most overseas workers. The company will need to meet the requirements for the relevant immigration route and submit an application to the Home Office.  The Home Office application fee will depend on the type of sponsor licence and the size of the organisation.  Sponsor licence applications typically take up to 8 weeks to be decided by the Home Office.

In this post, we look at the Home Office’s Pre-licence Priority Service. The Pre-licence Priority Service is a service whereby, for an additional fee, it is possible for the processing time for a sponsor licence application to be expedited. If a request for a Pre-licence Priority Service is successful, the sponsor licence application will typically be decided within just 10 working days. 

Sponsor Licence Application Preparation

Before applying for a Pre-licence Priority Service, you will need to prepare the sponsor licence application. Depending on the type of organisation, different supporting documents will be required. We have prepared a blog, Employer’s Guide to Appendix A Sponsor Licence Documents setting out the documents that can be provided in support of a sponsor licence application. You will also need to consider who will be your key personnel and understand the sponsor duties that you must comply with to maintain your licence. You will come across Certificate of Sponsorship and Standard Occupational Classification in your preparation so do have a look at our articles for a better understanding. 

Advantages of the Pre-licence Priority Sponsor Licence Service

The normal processing times for a standard sponsor licence application is around 8 weeks.  The Pre-licence Priority Service is available for a fee of £500.00 per request and a decision should normally be made within 10 working days. 

If your sponsor licence application is granted, you will be issued with a sponsor licence valid for 4 years from the date of decision. 

Eligibility for the Sponsor Licence Pre-licence Priority Service

The Home Office sponsor licence guidance states that ‘To be eligible for this service: 

  • you must have applied for a sponsor licence in an eligible route(s) by registering and completing the online application form on the Home Office Website;
  • you must have paid the application fee and the priority service fee;
  • you must have sent us your submission sheet and all mandatory and supplementary documents for the work routes you are applying for as explained in Appendix A to;
  • within 5 working days of paying the priority service fee if you are submitting your application;
  • if you are adding the priority service to an already submitted application, you must already have submitted these documents;
  • if you want to add the priority service to an already submitted application your application must not be in progress.

How to Apply for the Pre-licence Priority Service

Prior to 21 June 2023 

After the sponsor licence application has been submitted and documents sent to, the Pre-licence Priority Service can be requested. The priority service with a maximum of 30 slots was available for eligible applications submitted between 9.00am and 23.59pm for Monday to Friday and excluding public holidays. 

Any successful requests for a pre-licence priority service slot would receive an email confirming that a slot was available. Another email with the payment link would be sent and any payments must be made within 72 hours of receiving this email. If there was no news, it meant that the request was not successful. 

Post 21 June 2023

A different way to request the Sponsor Licence Pre-licence Priority Service was introduced and took effect from 21 June 2023. It is now possible to request the Pre-licence Priority Service when you apply for a sponsor licence.  You must continue to meet the eligibility criteria mentioned above. On your submission sheet will be the confirmation of your payment and the priority service. 

The Pre-licence Priority Services is available for eligible applications submitted between 9.00am and 23.59pm Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays. Each day, a maximum of 30 Priority service requests are available across all eligible routes.

Post Submission of Sponsor Licence Applications

It may still be possible to request the Pre-licence Priority Service after you have submitted your application and paid your application fee, subject to the eligibility criteria. The steps are:

  • log back into your sponsor application account and enter your username and password;
  • once logged in, select ‘Finish incomplete applications’. 

You will receive confirmation of your payment on a separate submission sheet.

Please note that the 10 working day period starts the next working day after your request has been accepted and you have paid the fee. The Home Office set out the example that ‘If you were accepted for the Priority service for the 21st June 2023 then the 10 working day period would start on 22nd June 2023.’

Sponsor Licence Priority Service Processing Times

Although the processing time for the priority service is 10 working days, there may be situations where the Home Office is not able to decide your application within that time frame. The reasons could be because extra checks are required or complex issues are raised. If a decision is not possible within the 10 day service standard, the Home Office will send an email to the authorising officer. In certain circumstances, the priority service fee may not be refunded.

Reasons for Unsuccessful Requests of the Pre-licence Priority Service

If you are applying for a sponsor licence and are not able to secure a slot for the pre-licence priority service, the reasons for this may include:

  • your chosen route is GBM Expansion worker, GBM service supplier or Scale up, which are ineligible routes for priority service;
  • the Home Office’s daily limit of requests has been reached;
  • you submitted a request outside of the service operating times;
  • a caseworker is already considering your sponsor licence application.

A Look at Some of the Sponsor Licence Routes

There are different types of sponsor licence routes and not all of them are eligible to use the Pre-licence Priority Service. A Skilled Worker Sponsor licence application is eligible. For a Global Business Mobility Sponsor licence application, only routes for Senior or Specialist Worker and Graduate Trainees  are eligible. A Scale up Sponsor Licence application is not eligible for the priority service at this time. 

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.


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