Sponsor License

You might need a sponsor licence to employ someone from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland to work for you in the UK. This includes unpaid work, eg if you run a charity.

Sponsoring someone doesn’t guarantee that they’ll be allowed to come to or stay in the UK.

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) will review your application form and supporting documents. They may visit your business to make sure you’re trustworthy and capable of carrying out your duties.

Tier 2 is for skilled workers who you want to employ long-term or permanently. Tier 5 is for skilled workers you want to employ on a temporary basis.

Sponsorship management 

You need to appoint people within your business to manage the sponsorship process when you apply for a licence. The main tool they’ll use is the sponsorship management system (SMS).

The roles are, authorising officer, key contact  and level 1 user. These roles can be filled by the same person or different people. You can also appoint an optional level 2 user once you have your licence. This is an SMS user with more restricted access than a level 1 user, eg they can’t withdraw a certificate of sponsorship.

Most applications (8 out of 10) are dealt with in less than 8 weeks. UKVI may need to visit your business.

Sponsorship certificates

You need a certificate of sponsorship for each foreign worker you employ. This is an electronic record, not a physical document. Each certificate has its own number which a worker can use to apply for a visa.

Unrestricted certificates

When you apply for your licence you’ll be asked to estimate how many Tier 2 and Tier 5 certificates you’ll need. These are called unrestricted certificates because there’s no limit on how many you can get.

Restricted certificates

These are for:

  • Tier 2 (General) workers currently abroad who’ll be paid less than £155,300 a year
  • family members (dependants) of Tier 4 migrants

You must apply for restricted certificates for these workers through the sponsorship management system (SMS). You’ll get access to this when you get your licence.

Licence fees

You need to pay a fee when you apply.

Type of licence Fee for small or charitable sponsors Fee for medium or large sponsors
Tier 2 £536 £1,476
Tier 5 £536 £536
Tier 2 and Tier 5 £536 £ 1,476
Add a Tier 2 to an existing Tier 5 No fee £940
Add a Tier 5 to an existing Tier 2 No fee No fee

Contact us for more details. We can help you to obtain your Sponsorship License.

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