How to obtain a UK worker sponsor licence?

Published on: 01/03/2023


UK businesses must have a sponsor licence to employ workers who do not have immigration permission to reside and work in the UK. Following a successful application, UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) grants a sponsor licence to a business, who is then permitted to employ migrant workers not already holding a visa allowing them to work in the UK.

How to obtain a UK worker sponsor licence?

Sponsor licence eligibility requirements

To be eligible for a sponsor licence, the Home Office must be satisfied that a business is a genuine entity operating lawfully in the mandatory documentation to demonstrate that your business’ activities are genuine, and that your business has an operating or trading presence in the UK.

Applying for a sponsor licence

To apply for a sponsor licence, you will need to register your business details with the UKVI and complete an online application form.

Appointing Key Personnel

Once your sponsor licence is granted, you will need to appoint Key Personnel on your licence, including an Authorising Officer, Key Contact, and Level 1 User. The Authorising Officer would need to be the most senior person within the organisation, responsible for the recruitment of migrant workers and ensuring the business meets its sponsor duties. The Key Contact is the main point of contact with UKVI, and a Level 1 User is responsible for day-to-day management of the licence on the SMS online. Multiple Level 1 Users may be appointed, including your legal representative.

Assigning Certificate of Sponsorship

If your licence application is approved, you will be able to sponsor migrant workers by assigning them a Certificate of Sponsorship, provided you have jobs suitable for sponsorship. Your sponsor licence will be valid for a period of 4 years, although there is a risk of having your licence suspended or revoked by UKVI if you do not meet your ongoing obligations as a sponsor.

Cost of sponsoring migrant workers

The cost of sponsoring a migrant worker depends on the type of licence you are applying for and the size or status of your organisation, in addition to a fee for each Certificate of Sponsorship and, under some routes, an Immigration Skills Charge.

Legal Support

We can support your business with all aspects of setting up and maintaining your sponsor licence. Our UK immigration team provides a comprehensive approach, preparing the entire licence application, taking into account the commercial considerations for your business.

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This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking professional and legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.