Navigating the 2024 UK Sponsor Licence Process: A Comprehensive Guide for Employers and International Talent

Tier 2 sponsor licence

What is a sponsor licence?

A sponsor licence, which used to be called a Tier 2 sponsor licence, lets companies in the UK hire skilled workers from other countries or from within the UK. Applicants can “switch” to the Skilled Worker visa from most other visa types, such as the Tier 4 Student and Youth Mobility Scheme. As soon as the licence is accepted, it will be good for four years, but it can be renewed.

The Home Office has put out new instructions for people who want to apply for a support licence. This is because of changes to UK immigration rules in December 2020. For example, the new Skilled Worker visa route took the place of the Tier 2 (General) visa route for supported work. Companies that want to hire skilled workers from the EEA and Switzerland must have a current sponsor licence as of January 1, 2021. This is the case even if the workers have not been given pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

UK Visa Sponsorship for Employers: Overview

If you want to hire someone from outside the UK to work for you, you’ll usually need a sponsor licence. Furthermore, these people are from the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, and they came to the UK after December 31, 2020.

This includes work that isn’t paid, like running a charity.

Some groups, like the ones below, can be sponsored without a licence.

  • Irish people 
  • who have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme and 
  • people who have the right to stay in the UK indefinitely

It’s not a given that the person you sponsor will get a visa to work for you in the UK.

Apply for a Sponsor Licence

In the UK, acquiring a sponsor licence is a methodical process that demands careful planning and submission of an application. Moreover, it necessitates ensuring that all the necessary supporting papers are included.

  1. To apply for a support licence, your business must be able to properly do business in the UK. 
  2. If you have many branches in the UK, you can either apply for one licence that covers all of your connected UK companies or one licence for each branch. It depends on your needs. 
  3. You have to show proof that you and any sites that the licence covers are listed with a government agency that lets you properly do business in the UK. 
  4. Another thing you might have to show is proof that the local planning body has permitted you to run your business at your trade address.
  5. You have to show the Home Office that you can offer skilled work and pay the right amount of sponsor licence UK business salary.
  6. When applying for a license, you agree to fulfill all duties associated with a sponsor license.
  7. There are some exceptions for traders who want to bring a skilled person to work for them.
  8. We’re experts in sponsor licensing forms, ensuring our customers stay in the queue while obtaining their license. Contact us if you need help with the United Kingdom’s immigration law. We will help!

Preparing the Application

To acquire a sponsor license, businesses must ensure they meet requirements, such as needing to hire workers or students from outside the UK. To establish methods for monitoring sponsored workers and ensuring compliance with visa regulations, the first step is to fill out an online application, akin to formally requesting a pass.

Submission and Supporting Documents

After compiling an application, companies must gather and submit numerous supporting documents to demonstrate its validity. These documents may include proof of UK business existence, job descriptions, and compliance with UK employment law. The form contains a file page that details all the documents being delivered with it. Other than English and Welsh, files must have a signed copy with them. Most of the time, we send the application and any supporting documents online or by email. However, sometimes we send a PDF instead.

Apply for a UK Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence

What is a skilled worker sponsor licence?

According to Appendix Skilled Worker of the UK’s Immigration Rules, a UK company requires a sponsor licence to hire non-UK resident workers through the Skilled Worker path. Additionally this requirement applies uniformly to all employers, irrespective of their size. This encompasses various entities such as private businesses, limited companies, public sector organisations, nonprofits, and PLCs.

A support pass remains valid for four years after issuance. You must update your sponsor pass before it ends if you want to keep it and continue to be able to support visa workers.

Skilled worker sponsor licence requirements

Take the time to learn about the application process and the proof you will need to send with your application so that you don’t run into problems or delays.

When you apply for the skilled worker support licence, you will need to show the Home Office that your company meets certain requirements, such as:

Real organisation

Are you a legitimate business capable of operating legally in the UK? To substantiate your claim, you will need to present one of the documents specified in Appendix A.

Real job opportunities

Does the offered job require a real person to perform tasks that demand the right amount of skill in exchange for a salary at or above the needed level?

Meeting the requirements for a corporate licence

Do your HR systems and procedures follow the rules that sponsors set out for keeping records, keeping an eye on things, and reporting?

Honest and Dependable

Because UKVI is honest and dependable, they will do background checks on your key employees and anyone else who helps run your licence daily.

You need to send at least four papers from Appendix A to show that you are eligible. The exact papers that need to be sent will be determined by the type of company that applies, along with some other factors listed in the appendix.

Also, you should give them basic planning papers like a company layout chart. 

Sponsor Application Log in

To log into SMS, you need to have a parent account.

Please use the supporter application if you don’t have a licence or if you want to add a route to a licence that you already have.

Type in your SMS user ID and password to get in. Moreover to use any part of the system or receive SMS, you MUST be a Level 1 or 2 customer of the company. You might face punishment if you misuse your SMS user ID.

Please make sure there are no spaces at the end of your user ID and/or password when you copy and paste them. Your account will lock for about twenty minutes if you enter the wrong user ID or password three times. This means you should try again later.

Note: You should never let someone else know your SMS user ID or password. Using SMS user IDs and/or passwords in the wrong way could get you in trouble.

UK Sponsorship Licence: How to Obtain It and What Is It for?  

A UK Sponsorship Licence from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) allows a UK company to hire skilled individuals from outside the EEA and Switzerland. Here is how you can get it and what it’s for:

How to Obtain a UK Sponsorship Licence:

Check Eligibility: Before applying for a sponsorship licence, ensure that your organization meets the eligibility criteria set by UKVI. This includes being a genuine organization operating lawfully in the UK.

Choose the Type of Licence: There are different types of sponsorship licenses available, depending on the type of workers you intend to sponsor. Moreover common types include Tier 2 (General), which is for skilled workers with job offers, and Tier 5, designed for temporary workers.

Prepare Supporting Documents: Gather all the necessary documentation required for the application. This typically includes proof of your organization’s legal status, financial standing, and evidence of genuine need for sponsored workers.

Apply Online: Submit your application for a sponsorship licence through the UKVI online portal. You’ll need to provide detailed information about your organization and the type of workers you intend to sponsor.

Pay the Fee: Ensure that you pay the application fee in full along with your application when obtaining a sponsorship licence.

Wait for Processing: After submitting your application, UKVI will review it to ensure compliance with immigration rules. This process may take several weeks.

Compliance Visit (if required): In some cases, UKVI may conduct a compliance visit to your organization’s premises to verify the information provided in the application.

Receive Decision: UKVI will provide you with a decision regarding the outcome of your sponsorship licence application once they process it.

What Is It For:

A UK Sponsorship Licence allows your organization to sponsor skilled workers from outside the EEA and Switzerland to work in the UK. Moreover with this licence, you can issue Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) to eligible employees, enabling them to apply for a work visa to come to the UK.

Additionally companies that want to hire skilled employees from outside the EEA and Switzerland must get a UK Sponsorship Licence. This lets the workers officially work in the UK through different immigration paths.

Sponsor Application Online

It might seem hard to fill out the online application for a Sponsor Licence, but if you know how it works and follow these tips, you should be able to do it without any problems. Here is a step-by-step guide:

Prepare Your Documents: Before you begin the online application, gather all the necessary documents. This typically includes proof of your business’s legal entity, financial documents, and details about your key personnel.

Access the Online Portal: Visit the official website of the immigration authority in your country, such as UK Visas and Immigration for the UK. Look for the section related to employer sponsorship or sponsor management; therein, you’ll find the link to start the Sponsor Licence application.

Create an Account or Log In: If you’re a new user, you’ll need to create an account by providing some basic information. If you already have an account, simply log in using your credentials.

Start the Application: Once logged in, navigate to the section for Sponsor Licence applications and select the option to start a new application.

Follow the Instructions: The online application will guide you through various sections. Additionally each section will require specific information about your organization, its structure, and your intended use of the Sponsor Licence.

Be sure to enter all information accurately and truthfully. Additionally, any discrepancies or inaccuracies could delay your application or lead to its rejection.

Usually, there is a fee associated with applying for a Sponsor Licence. Therefore, ensure that you have the means to pay this fee online using a valid payment method.

Monitor Progress: Once you’ve submitted your application, you’ll receive a confirmation email or notification. Consequently, keep an eye on your email and the online portal for updates on the status of your application.

Respond Promptly to Requests: During the processing of your application, you may receive requests for additional information or clarification. It’s important to respond to these requests promptly to avoid delays.

Await Decision: Once your application has been processed, you’ll receive a decision regarding your Sponsor Licence application. If approved, you’ll be issued a Sponsor Licence, allowing you to sponsor employees for work visas.

By following these steps and paying attention to the details, you can navigate the online application for a Sponsor Licence with confidence.

Sponsor Licence Application Guidance For Employers

You have to fill out an online form to get your pass.

  • If asked, submit supporting papers after completing the online application.
  • You should send the filing sheet at the end of the application as well.

A trained, impartial person, such as a lawyer, notary public, justice of the peace, commissioner for oaths, or (only in Scotland) a councillor, needs to sign any papers or legal declarations before sending them.

Sponsorship Licence

When applying for a sponsor licence, it’s crucial to select key personnel:

  1. Authorising Officer (AO): A senior individual overseeing HR, responsible for managing the licence. At any given time, only one Authorized Officer (AO) is allowed.
  2. Key Contact: The person the Home Office communicates with regarding the application and licence. Only one key contact can make appointments.
  3. Level 1 Users: Responsible for day-to-day licence administration through the Sponsor Management System (SMS). While it’s possible to appoint multiple level 1 users, it’s advisable to limit accountability.
  4. Level 2 Users: Similar to level 1 users but with fewer permissions for administrative tasks.

Who to appoint as key personnel?

The licence application form needs to list the key people who will be working there.

In small businesses, one person may hold multiple jobs; however, in larger businesses, they might opt to hire separate individuals. Additionally, some people, like the main contact, will probably also be level 1 users most of the time.

There must always be at least one “settled worker” working for the sponsor. This worker isn’t subject to immigration control and can remain in the UK indefinitely.

According to the sponsor’s guidance, the employer must ensure that key workers hired meet fitness standards. Additionally, each of the important people must:

  • Choose individuals based in the UK throughout their role.
  • They must be paid staff or officeholders.
  • Ensure they have no unspent criminal convictions related to immigration.
  • SMS users can’t sponsor close relatives.
  • Sponsored employers can’t act as Level 1 users.
  • Each person undergoes criminal background checks.

UK Sponsor Licence Application Guidance 2024

  • Mandatory Documents: Submit at least four mandatory documents demonstrating eligibility, such as audited accounts and insurance certificates.
  • Additional Documentation: Additional documents may be required depending on the organization’s type and history.
  • Additional Information: Provide details like industry, operating hours, and contact information.
  • Skilled Worker Details: If hiring skilled workers, provide job details including description, salary, and hierarchy.
  • Submission Deadline: Submit all supporting documents within five days of application.
  • Preparation: Prepare documents in advance to avoid delays or errors.
  • Application Submission: Only submit the application form once all documents are in order.
  • Submission Responsibility: Only the Authorizing Officer can submit the application form.
  • Record Keeping: Keep a copy of the submitted application for record-keeping purposes.


How can I get a certificate of sponsorship in the UK?

Moreover, to obtain a Certificate of Sponsorship (COS) in the UK, you need to have a job offer from a UK employer who is a licensed sponsor.

What is Home Office sponsorship?

Home Office sponsorship refers to the authorization granted to UK employers to sponsor skilled workers from outside the UK under the Tier 2 visa system.

How long will my Tier 2 sponsor licence be valid? 

A Tier 2 sponsor license is typically valid for four years, subject to renewal.

Who can sponsor me to come to the UK? 

Employers licensed by the UK Home Office can sponsor individuals to come to the UK under various visa categories, including Tier 2 General and Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer.

Why was my Tier 2 sponsor licence application refused? 

UKVI may refuse your Tier 2 sponsor license application for various reasons, such as failure to meet the eligibility criteria or providing inadequate supporting documentation.

Which can provide a genuine Tier 2 visa in the UK?

Licensed employers who meet the requirements set by the UK Home Office provide genuine Tier 2 visas in the UK.

Do HGV drivers get sponsorship UK?

Yes, some companies in the UK sponsor HGV (Heavy Goods Vehicle) drivers under the Tier 2 visa category.

How do I get a UK sponsorship visa? 

To obtain a UK sponsorship visa, you need to secure a job offer from a licensed sponsor and apply for the appropriate visa.

What is a list of tier-2 visa sponsors in the UK for IT (Java)? 

To find a list of Tier 2 visa sponsors in the UK for IT roles such as Java, you can consult the official register of licensed sponsors maintained by the UK Home Office.

Can my sponsor cancel my working visa in the UK?

Yes, your sponsor can cancel your working visa in the UK under certain circumstances, such as termination of employment or if they lose their sponsorship license.

How do I obtain a work permit for the UK? 

To obtain a work permit for the UK, you need to secure a job offer from a licensed sponsor and apply for the relevant visa.

How long does it take to get a COS for the UK Tier 2 general? 

The processing time for a COS for the UK Tier 2 General visa can vary but typically takes a few weeks to months.

Who can sponsor for student visa in the UK?

Educational institutions, including universities and colleges, can sponsor individuals for student visas in the UK.

Do hotels provide a Tier 2 visa for sponsorship? 

While some hotels may offer sponsorship for certain roles, it’s less common compared to other industries like IT or healthcare.

How and where to apply for a skilled worker visa in the UK? 

To apply for a skilled worker visa in the UK, you need to have a job offer from a licensed sponsor and meet the eligibility criteria for the visa category.

Which companies offer jobs that sponsor UK visas? 

Several companies in various sectors, including technology, finance, and healthcare, offer jobs that sponsor UK visas.

How to employ international talent in the UK? 

Employers can employ international talent in the UK by becoming licensed sponsors and sponsoring individuals under the appropriate visa categories.

How to get self-sponsorship in the UK? 

However self-sponsorship in the UK is not typically possible for work visas, as you usually need a job offer from a licensed sponsor to obtain a visa.

Does HMRC provide employment sponsorship? 

HMRC doesn’t offer employment sponsorship; its main role is tax collection and managing specific benefits and regulations.

Why is there a delay for an outside UK skilled work visa?

Skilled work visa delays abroad may result from factors such as high application numbers, added scrutiny, or processing backlogs.

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