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Sponsor Licences: Application and Renewal Procedure - FAQs

A Sponsor licence is a permission which is granted to an organisation or individual to sponsor workers in its business.  You may need a sponsor licence if you wish to employ someone from outside the EEA and Switzerland to work in the UK.  A migrant must have a sponsor before they are able to apply to come and work in the UK.  A sponsor licence is valid for 4 years but can be revoked by the Home Office beforehand for not complying with sponsorship duties

How to submit a sponsor licence application?

  • Sponsor licences are tier specific and are available for:
    • Tier 2 (General):
    • Tier 2 (Ministers of Religion) and Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) Religious Workers
    • Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer)
    • Tier 2 (Sportsperson) and Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) Creative and Sporting
    • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) Charity Workers
    • Tier 5 Creative Sector
    • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) Government Authorised Exchange
    • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) International Agreement
    • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) Seasonal workers
  • Check the requirements for the Tier you are applying for
  • An application for your sponsor licence is made by completing an online application on the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)) and submitting the supporting documentation within five days.

What are the costs involved in applying for a sponsor licence?

  • You will be charged to:
    • Apply for the initial sponsor licence – the fee of your sponsor licence will depend on the size of your organisation.
    • Renew an existing sponsor licence
    • Extend the scope of an existing licence
    • Assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
  • You may also be required to pay the Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) as set out in the Immigration Skills Charge Regulations 2017. If you are not sure whether you are required to pay the IHS please seek professional advice.

How are the sponsor licence decisions made?

  • The Home Office looks at the suitability criteria to determine whether to grant or refuse your sponsor licence application
  • Some of the things assessed includes:
    • Whether you can offer a genuine vacancy
    • Whether you have suitable human resources and recruitment systems in place to meet your sponsor duties
    • Whether the Home Office are able to conduct checks to ensure compliance with sponsorship duties

Who needs to be responsible for maintaining the sponsor licence?

  • The responsibilities for the sponsor licence can be provided to members of staff who will be the ‘key personnel’
  • Each of the key personnel have a specific responsibility
  • The key personnel must:
    • Be based in the UK permanently during the period of time
    • Be a paid member of your staff or engaged by you as an office holder bar a few exceptions
    • Meet the criminal convictions requirements in Annex 1 of the Tier 2 and 5: Guidance for sponsors (Version 01/19). If you have any criminal convictions, please seek professional advice before submitting your application.

What are the sponsor ratings?

  • Sponsor licences are either rated A or B
  • A rating –
    • This is awarded when you are first granted a licence on the basis that you have suitable systems in place to meet your sponsorship duties
  • B rating –
    • If you are unable to meet your sponsor duties, you will be downgraded to a B rating
    • Reasons you may be downgraded to a B rating includes:
      • Have knowingly provided false statements or information
      • Not provided information you when required to
      • You or migrants pose a threat to immigration control
    • The Home Office will send you a letter explaining why you have been downgraded as well as provide you with an opportunity to respond

What happens if we miss our renewal date?

  • It is important to renew before it expires
  • You will no longer be a licensed sponsor from the date that it expired
  • The Home Office will curtail the migrant’s leave to 60 calendar days
  • If an application to renew is made subsequently, the employer will be treated as if they were a new sponsor
  • The effect of this is that to continue to employ existing migrant workers, a Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) must first be conducted and the affected employees will have to be treated as new recruits for the purposes of sponsorship

What are the common grounds for renewal refusal?

  • Failure to conduct adequate RLMT
  • Failure to keep sufficient records of RLMT
  • Non-compliance with sponsor licence duties and responsibilities
  • Failure to keep sufficient records of migrants

Contact Our Business Immigration Barristers

It is important that an accurate sponsor licence application is submitted and sponsors comply with their sponsorship duties in order to ensure they retain their licence and the migrant’s permission to work is not jeopardised.

For expert advice regarding Sponsorship applications, obligations and renewals, contact our immigration barristers and lawyers in London on 0203 617 9173 or via our 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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