Sponsorship Licence

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Sponsorship License Advisors

If you are a business owner or responsible for recruitment of employees within your company or organisation, and you wish to employ talented individuals from overseas with specialist skills, then you must apply for a Sponsorship Licence. At UKVS we have a team of experts that have a wealth of experience in succeeding with this process and can offer you comprehensive guidance with your application, from start to finish.

Whether you are looking to employ workers on a long-term, short-term or even a temporary basis, holding a sponsorship licence, or sponsor status will be a huge asset for your business. As a registered sponsor with UKVI, you will have the power to offer employment positions to a wider pool of potential candidates. With the correct type of licence you can offer a range of working arrangements to skilled individuals.

There are various categories of Sponsorship Licence types which your company can obtain. Your business can apply for and be granted more than one type of licence, the most common type however is the Skilled Worker licence. This will enable your business to secure the services of talented individuals from any part of the world. In turn you will be able to meet your business and staffing needs for the long-term.

The advantage of applying for a Sponsorship Licence was truly realised after the UK left the EU and due to the restriction on free movement within the area. Now, even if you wish to employ EU Citizens for a specialist role within your company, you must confirm the sponsorship via your management system portal (online) which is only accessible once you have applied and been approved for a sponsorship licence.

Our team of corporate legal experts make it possible for you to obtain a sponsorship licence within the least time and effort possible. We have repeated and mastered the process multiple times and for many different types of organisations. We promise to take the time-out to answer all your questions and ensure that you understand the process, costs and time frame involved. Contact us today for further advice and a free quote for our professional advice and assistance with the application process.

Different types of Sponsorship Licence

There are two main categories; Workers and Temporary Workers. You can apply for a licence in only one or both categories at the same time. Which category you apply under depends on which industry your business is operating within. For example, if you employ full-time staff in permanent and long-term positions, you are more suited to apply for a ‘Worker licence’. If you are a charity, religious organisation, or in the creative industry then you are more suited to apply for temporary worker licence.

The Worker licence category can be further split into the following:

  • Skilled Worker
  • Senior or Specialist worker
  • Minister of Religion
  • International Sportsperson

The Temporary Worker licence is further split into the following:

  • Creative Worker for example as an entertainer or artist (up to 2 years)
  • Charity Worker for unpaid workers (up to 1 year)
  • Religious Worker (2 years)
  • Seasonal Worker coming to the UK for up to 6 months to do farm work

Securing a sponsorship licence in either category is often complicated since you must provide specified evidence to demonstrate your company is trading genuinely and lawfully in the UK. Also, you must pay the correct fee for the particular type of licence you are applying for.

Sponsorship License

Eligibility requirements:

  • Prove you are trading genuinely in the UK, for example as a sole trader, private limited company or limited-liability partnership
  • Prove you are operating lawfully in the UK, for example you have relevant accreditation, are paying taxes and have the necessary insurance
  • Appoint key personnel who are honest, dependable and reliable for example do not have civil or criminal convictions or a history of immigration violation
  • The key personnel must be settled in the UK and in most circumstances, employees of the company, the roles include:
    • Authorising Officer
    • Key Contact
    • Level 1 User
  • Demonstrate you have sufficient knowledge of your duties and responsibilities as a licence holder
  • Most importantly, you must ensure you are seeking to fill a genuine vacancy at the appropriate level and that the worker is paid the minimum salary

Following the application process and in order to maintain your licence, as you grow as an organisation, it is important to ensure that you are complying with your duties and responsibilities as a licensed sponsor. For more information on compliance please see the further information section below or visit: Sponsorship Licence: Duties & Compliance For Employers.

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Information for Employers

Sponsor licence holders are entrusted with a duty to maintain effective immigration control hence why this area is strictly monitored by UKVI. One of the important requirements to successfully apply for and maintain a sponsorship licence is to have adequate HR systems in place. These are to monitor, update and if necessary report ‘relevant activity’ to the UKVI.

The advantage of having HR systems is to allow you to monitor each employees’ immigration status [right to work in the UK]. It is also to store and maintain relevant employee information and documents, which is now required by law, for employers to have a statutory excuse against employing illegal workers. 

Compliance checks have become more common and may be carried out by UKVI on the basis of any reasonable suspicion that you have breached your sponsor duties. Following such inspection, UKVI may decide that you are not considered suitable to hold a licence.

During the inspection, UKVI may carry out the following checks:

  • ask you for additional documents or information
  • verify documents and information you have provided
  • consider any other information or evidence that comes to light – for example, during the course of considering applications from your sponsored workers or through allegations from members of the public
  • make regular checks with HMRC to ensure you are paying your workers appropriately

The purpose of these checks is to make sure:

  • the information you have given is accurate and complete
  • you are able to offer genuine employment
  • you are genuine and trading or operating lawfully in the UK

It is very important to understand the sponsorship management roles and responsibilities. You will be asked to appoint people within your business to manage the sponsorship process and demonstrate that you are complying with the sponsorship licence rules and terms of your individual licence.

These roles include:

  • The Authorising Officer who is usually a senior and competent person in charge of staff and representatives using the Sponsorship Management System
  • The Level 1 User is the person responsible for the day-to-day management of your licence with access to the Sponsorship Management System
  • A key contact is the main point of contact with UKVI during the sponsorship licence application stage

The roles can be filled by the same or different people. You can also appoint a legal representative, from outside of your organisation, to take on either the key contact or level 1 user roles but not the authorising officer role. Each individual must be based in the UK and provide a national insurance number.

Also, the nominated people will undergo suitability checks to make sure they are suitable for these roles. Your sponsorship licence will not be granted if anyone nominated for the role(s) has unspent criminal convictions or has a history of non-compliance with immigration (in general) or sponsor requirements in the past.

The first step is to create an account with UKVI for a sponsorship licence application. Through this separate portal, you can easily start, draft and even save the progress of your application as you obtain the necessary information and details required to complete it. Once the details of your business have been confirmed, you will be able to enter the information for nominated key personnel and confirm which supporting documents you are providing. Before you submit the application, the Authorising Officer must read the declarations thoroughly before agreeing to become a licence holder.

Next, you will need to pay the correct sponsorship licence fee depending on the size of your organisation. You will either be classed as a small-sized sponsor, or alternatively, a medium/large-sized sponsor. After the payment, you will be able to generate and download the submission sheet which the Authorising Officer must sign and submit to the UKVI via email within five working days. As your legal representative, we will guide you through every step of the application process.

Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)

Once you are approved as a Sponsorship Licence holder, you will gain access to the Sponsorship Management System (SMS). This is your online portal through which you can communicate with UKVI and issue certificate(s) of sponsorship (‘CoS’) to every new and/or existing employee(s) that you wish to sponsor. Only the nominated level 1 user(s) will be provided with login details to access and use the Sponsorship Management System. It will be the Authorising Officers duty to ensure that they are aware of the requests and any changes made via the SMS system, however they will not have separate access themselves.

The CoS is a very important document which you must assign and issue to each overseas worker you wish to employ and sponsor within your organisation. It is an electronic document containing important information about the applicant’s personal, financial and work details. So once you have formally accepted an overseas worker within your organisation, you must complete the process to request, draft, assign and generate the unique CoS document. Once issued, the CoS links with UKVIs digital database.

You must pay the correct fee with each CoS:

£239.00 certificate cost under the worker category
£25.00 certificate cost under the temporary worker category

You must also pay the Immigration Skills charge with the above:

£364.00 per year of sponsorship for small or charitable sponsors
£1,000.00 per year of sponsorship for medium or large sponsors

Once the CoS is assigned, a copy must be generated and given to the applicant for use in their visa application. When requesting and assigning a certificate to any worker, you must ensure that the type of CoS you are assigning, is correct. Also, it is important to know if the job you offer is in an eligible SOC Code and whether the salary you offer satisfies the minimum salary requirement. 

You will not be informed by UKVI at this stage if the details entered in the CoS are correct, or if it satisfies the sponsorship licence and/or immigration rules. You may [unknowingly] provide the applicant a copy of the CoS, which they will use in their visa application, only for it to be rejected.

With our wealth of experience in SMS and CoS requests, we recommend that you add one of our corporate lawyers to your account as a representative and additional level 1 user. This will enable us to have a separate login and manage the SMS account on your behalf. This will also save a considerable degree of time in submitting requests on your behalf and ensures that we are able to review and advise on any possible defects with the request(s) being made. It is much easier and quicker to be added to your SMS at the licence application stage.

If you’re an employer who is thinking about sponsoring someone to move to the UK and you have questions. Please read our page about your responsibilities and areas of compliance that you will need to follow. 


Under the standard service, a sponsorship licence application request can take up to eight weeks to decide.

For each Certificate of Sponsorship request, the standard service is one working day; however if UKVI requests additional information, it can take much longer (up to 16 weeks).

Under the Worker category, the standard fee for a Sponsorship Licence depends on the size or type of your company. It is £536.00 for small or charitable sponsors and £1,476.00 for medium or large sponsors.

Under the Temporary Worker category, the standard fee is £536.00 for small, charitable, medium or large sponsors.

You must pay separately for the Certificate of Sponsorship; this includes certificate cost and immigration skills charge.

For a quicker decision on your application, you can submit a priority request via the sponsorship licence application portal. The priority service is limited to only a few applicants each day and is therefore NOT guaranteed.


If accepted for the priority consideration, you must pay an additional £500.00 within 72 hours of being accepted. This will allow your sponsorship licence application to be decided within five working days.


There is also a priority service for post-licence requests however this does not include all requests that can be made under the SMS. Again, this is limited to a few applicants each day and if accepted, will cost an additional £200.00.

Yes, you will have to pay a certificate cost and immigration skills charge for each worker you sponsor depending on the category of application and the duration of sponsorship.

You must pay the correct fee depending on your category of application:

  • £239.00 certificate cost under the worker category
  • £25.00 certificate cost under the temporary worker category

In addition to the certificate cost, you must also pay the Immigration Skills charge:

  • £364.00 per year of sponsorship for small or charitable sponsors
  • £1,000.00 per year of sponsorship for medium or large sponsors

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If you would like more advice or to discuss your visa application with one of our UK Visa specialists, you can contact our team of specialists on 0161 843 9000 or complete our enquiry form below.