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Sponsor Licence Solicitors
Look no further than our capable and experienced immigration solicitors for assistance with your sponsor licence application.
If your business or educational institution wishes to sponsor someone from outside the UK to work or study with your organisation, it will usually be necessary to obtain a sponsor licence – previously the Tier 2 sponsor licence.
Since 1st January 2021, a sponsorship licence has been required in order to hire most workers from outside the UK.
Once you apply for and obtain a sponsorship licence from the Home Office, the individual that your organisation wishes to employ will be able to submit an application for a visa entitling them to come to the UK for work purposes.
We help organisations of all sizes and sectors to apply for, obtain and maintain their Sponsor Licence – formerly the Tier 2 Sponsor Licence. We have a more than 20-year track record in UK immigration law, and we don’t just assist with the initial application process, as we also advise and guide businesses on sponsor licence application refusals, suspensions and revocations.
Pearson Locke Law is an award-winning Manchester City Centre based law firm, with an impressive success rate in obtaining sponsorship licences and helping businesses to keep their sponsor licence A-rating. Have a read of some of our sponsor licence case studies on how we have helped UK businesses.
Clients from across the UK benefit from our Home Office sponsor licence guidance and related services, including in such key sectors as the media, banking and financial services, professional services, tech, legal, hospitality and retail.
Below, we have detailed comprehensive information about the sponsorship licence for employers, including what is involved when you apply for a sponsor licence, the latest sponsor licence fees, and how we can obtain the licence for your company. For more details about our service,
please call 0161 820 1101.
How can you help me get a Sponsor Licence?
We have long helped clients to obtain a sponsorship licence – formerly known as the Tier 2 sponsorship licence – for individuals they wish to employ from outside the UK. Our high level of expertise and experience in the preparation of sponsor licence applications will help maximise your chances of a successful outcome.
Here at Pearson Locke Law, we have helped our clients to obtain hundreds of sponsor licences over the years. We are one of the most trusted names in this field, working with some of the leading companies worldwide.
Our business backgrounds as legal professionals enable us to fundamentally understand the recruitment challenges that clients routinely face, and the circumstances in which sponsor licences tend to be needed.
We can therefore provide the complete service for those wishing to make a sponsor licence application. We project manage all clients throughout the application process, so that they always feel supported throughout the application process. Our service also includes the preparation of detailed legal representation for the Home Office caseworker, which may reduce the likelihood of someone from the department conducting a compliance visit to your premises.
However, with the Home Office often arranging compliance visits to organisations that already hold a sponsor licence, as well as those that do not yet have a sponsor licence but are applying for one, it is vital for your company to be prepared for this. This is why we offer the option of a mock compliance visit, which enables clients to understand what to expect if the Home Office does visit their premises.
For clients that require a quicker decision on their sponsor licence application, we also offer a premium service to help speed up the process, book a consultation now.
It’s worth remembering that sponsor licence application refusals can easily occur for applicants who do not take the time to thoroughly and carefully prepare their application before submission, or who do not hire professional immigration lawyers to help them do so.
So, don’t be afraid – at any stage of the application process – to consult our business immigration team for tailored sponsorship licence guidance.
What is a Sponsor Licence?
A Home Office sponsor licence – previously known as the Tier 2 sponsor licence – is the licence that a UK-based company must obtain if they wish to employ a skilled worker from outside the UK. Such workers include citizens of the European Union (EU), Ireland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland who arrived in the UK after 31st December 2020.
Employers do not need a sponsor licence in order to hire workers from certain groups. These include Irish citizens, those with settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, and those with indefinite leave to remain in the UK.
With the UK seeing shortages of skilled workers after Brexit and the associated end to the free movement of workers between the UK and the EU, obtaining a Sponsor Licence has become crucial for many organisations. A firm with a sponsor licence has a bigger pool of talent to select from, which helps ensure it isn’t restricted in its recruitment options.
This, in turn, helps the business to provide the best possible service to customers and achieve its growth ambitions. For more information, please call 0161 820 1101.
What are the requirements for a Sponsor Licence?
An organisation that wishes to apply for a sponsor licence must have a UK presence and is required to be operating or trading lawfully in the UK. Depending on its particular circumstances, an organisation with multiple UK branches may apply for one licence to cover all of its linked UK entities, or might choose to apply for separate licences for each branch.
Employers are required to be registered with or inspected/monitored by a statutory body to operate lawfully in the UK must submit proof that they – and any branches the sponsorship licence will cover – are registered with the appropriate body. You may also need to provide evidence that you hold the necessary local planning authority consent or planning permission in order to run your class of business at your trading address.
If you are to be successful in your sponsorship licence application, you must convince the Home Office that you are able to offer genuine employment in a skilled occupation, and that you will pay the appropriate level of salary, as stipulated by the Home Office.
Applying for a skilled worker sponsor licence also means accepting all of the duties one has as a sponsorship licence holder. It is not normally possible for a private individual to be recognised as a sponsor; an exception to this would be sole traders who wish to sponsor someone to work in their business.
What are the Sponsorship Management Roles?
When you apply for a sponsor licence as an organisation, you will need to appoint people within your business to manage the sponsorship process. You will also be required to use the Home Office’s Sponsorship Management System – or SMS – to conduct your firm’s sponsor licence operations.
Your organisation will need to fill the following three specific roles:
- The key contact, who will serve as the main point of contact with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), the division of the Home Office responsible for the UK’s visa system
- The Authorising Officer, who must be a senior person at your organisation. They will have responsibility for the staff and representatives’ actions
- The Level 1 user, whose role will be the sponsorship licence’s day-to-day management
These three roles don’t necessarily need to be assigned to three different people; just one person can carry out all of these responsibilities, if needed. At least one Level 1 user is required to be a company employee. You can employ other Level 1 and Level 2 users, however, from third-party organisations such as Pearson Locke Law.
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How can I apply for a Sponsorship Licence?
If your organisation wishes to apply for a Tier 2 sponsor licence – as it was once known – you will be required to submit an application form, usually accompanied by at least four specified supporting documents as evidence of your business’s trading presence in the UK. Exceptions to this four-document requirement include public bodies recognised by the UK Government (such as a local council), and companies listed on the London Stock Exchange Main Market. In addition, a covering letter will need to be supplied with background information about your company.
The Home Office may occasionally ask applicants to provide further documents to support their sponsor licence application. You might be requested to show documents showing evidence of your organisation’s HR processes, for instance, so that the Home Office can assess whether you will meet the compliance requirements and fulfil your sponsorship duties.
In the process of assessing your sponsorship licence application, the Home Office may also conduct a compliance visit to your organisation’s premises.
What is a sponsor licence rating?
The two sponsorship licence ratings are:
If the Home Office approves your sponsor licence application, you will be given an A-rating. This is the highest rating the Home Office awards, being reserved for trusted organisations that have demonstrated they have the required systems in place to satisfy their duties as sponsors.
An A-rating is not automatically permanent; your organisation will need to maintain its systems and policies to keep its rating. The Home Office may reassess your status at any time, and conduct compliance visits to determine whether your company still satisfies the requirements for an A-rating.
A business that is found to be falling short of the criteria for an A-rating may be downgraded to a B-rating. If this happens to your organisation, you will need to satisfy the requirements of a time-limited action plan in order to regain your A-rating. Failing to achieve this will cause your sponsorship licence to be revoked.
It’s important to note that not all sponsor licence revocations will necessarily follow this two-step process; the Home Office is entitled to revoke or suspend a licence without taking the preliminary step of moving your company from an A-rating to a B-rating. The Home Office will decide on the most appropriate course of action on the basis of the seriousness of any breaches it identifies.
Contact our Immigration Solicitors In Manchester on 0161 820 1101 or
via firstname.lastname@example.org to make your enquiry.
What documents are needed for a Sponsor Licence application?
When applying for a Skilled Worker sponsor licence – previously the Tier 2 sponsorship licence – it is usually necessary to submit at least four specified mandatory documents. The list of potentially required documents is a long one, and the exact ones your organisation will be expected to supply will depend on whether you are representing a start-up, franchise, SME, or public body.
Below are some of the documents you may need to supply for your sponsorship licence application:
- The most recent business bank statement
- Evidence of employer’s liability insurance of a minimum of £5 million from an authorised insurer
- Certificate of VAT registration
- Proof that you own, lease or rent your business premises
- Evidence that you are registered as an employer with HM Revenue & Customs
- Your organisation’s latest audited or unaudited accounts; you will be required to provide audited accounts if your company has a legal obligation to file these
What are the costs of applying for a Sponsorship Licence?
The exact sponsor licence application fee you are required to pay will depend on the type of licence you are applying for, and the type and size of your organisation.
The Tier 2 sponsorship licence cost – to refer to the licence by its former name – is reviewed by the Home Office every year, with the latest fees published on its website. Please note that you will need to pay the fee every time you renew your licence as a sponsor, every four years.
Below is a summary of the different levels of sponsor licence application fee, as of 2021:
|Type of licence||Fee for small or charitable sponsors||Fee for medium or large sponsors|
|Worker and Temporary Worker||£536||£1,476|
|Add a Worker licence to an existing Temporary Worker licence||No fee||£940|
|Add a Temporary Worker licence to an existing Worker licence||No fee||£940|
What is a Certificate of Sponsorship?
A Certificate of Sponsorship, or CoS, is an electronic document generated on the Sponsor Management System (SMS), following the granting of a licence.
A company won’t be able to sponsor a migrant worker until it first requests a CoS from the Home Office through the SMS. Once the employer has been granted a CoS,
it will need to assign this to the migrant worker it intends to sponsor; this will generate a unique reference number that the candidate can then submit when applying for their visa.
How long does it take to get a Sponsor Licence?
The Home Office says that about 80% of those who apply for a sponsor licence can expect a decision in less than eight weeks; please note, however, that it may be necessary for UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to visit your organisation’s premises before a decision is made.
In some cases, it is possible for an organisation to pay £500 to get a decision on their sponsor licence application within 10 working days. You will be told whether this is an option for you after you apply.
What happens once I get a Sponsor Licence?
Your organisation being granted a sponsorship licence will result in it being registered with the Home Office as a sponsor. This will entitle you to begin issuing Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) to skilled staff from outside the UK, provided that certain requirements are met.
Being granted a sponsor licence will entitle you to access the Home Office’s portal for managing your activities as a sponsor, the Sponsorship Management System – or SMS. When your organisation’s sponsor licence application is approved, the Authorising Officer will receive the first login ID for the SMS portal by post. The Level 1 user that you nominated in your sponsor licence application will be sent the password by email, and it will be up to the Authorising Officer to send the login details to the Level 1 user.
Your business will then be able to use the system to apply for a CoS and provide details of the migrant worker you wish to sponsor.
Fulfilling all of your duties as a sponsor licence holder can be overwhelming. This is why you may ask about our additional ongoing services, whereby we can be nominated as a Level 1 user and manage your responsibilities through the SMS portal for you.
Ongoing sponsorship licence management services available from Pearson Locke Law include:
(i) Increasing CoS allocations
(ii) Applying for the Skilled Worker visa or the relevant visa for the Worker
(iii) Ongoing Level 1 duties
(iv) Training on how to use the SMS portal
(v) Renewing the sponsor licence
What if the Sponsor Licence application is refused?
Sponsor licence application refusals that do not arise from an assessment error by the Home Office normally trigger a six-month cooling-off period from the date of the refusal. This means you will not be permitted to submit another sponsor licence application during that period.
When our immigration solicitors take a closer look at the refusal of your sponsorship licence application, they may conclude that the Home Office made a mistake in reaching its decision. In this case, it might be possible for us to submit a pre-licence error correction on your behalf.
In the event that a pre-licence error correction does not overturn the Home Office’s decision, the only other way to challenge the decision would be to lodge a judicial review. Whatever decision is ultimately made, our knowledgeable and capable legal professionals can advise and represent you when challenging sponsor licence application refusals.
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What is a revocation of a sponsor licence?
Organisations that have been granted what used to be known as the Tier 2 sponsorship licence are required to undertake certain duties for as long as the licence is valid. If the Home Office believes that as a sponsor, you have committed a serious breach of these duties or you represent a threat to immigration control, they may decide to revoke your licence.
This, in turn, could have devastating consequences for your business. It will mean the removal of your organisation from the register of sponsors, and you will no longer be able to issue Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS). This could imperil your company’s ability to recruit the talent it requires in order to satisfy customer demand and grow – to say nothing of the reputational damage.
The following circumstances are just some of those that can lead to sponsor licence revocations:
- A sponsor being found to have knowingly provided incorrect information in their sponsor licence application
- A sponsor employing a migrant in a role that fails to meet the required skill/salary level
- A B-rated sponsor not meeting any of the requirements of their action plan within the specified timeframe
How long is a Sponsor Licence valid for?
If your sponsorship licence application is successful, the licence will remain valid for a period of four years, with the option for renewal.
However, your organisation risks losing its sponsor licence earlier than this if it does not meet its sponsor responsibilities. Those duties include – but are not limited to – checking that your migrant workers have the required skills, and only assigning a CoS to a worker when the role is suitable for sponsorship.
Sponsor Licence Frequently Asked Questions
Those making a sponsorship licence application who have an unspent criminal conviction for a relevant offence can expect the Home Office to either refuse their application for a sponsor licence, or grant a licence with limitations.
You will not be approved for a sponsor licence if you have unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences or certain other crimes, such as money laundering or fraud.
In assessing your sponsor licence application, the Home Office will check whether you and your staff are suitable for the sponsorship management roles you appoint them to take up. Your application may fail if anyone involved in sponsorship at your organisation has broken the law, been reported to UKVI, received a fine from UKVI in the last 12 months, or been a ‘key person’ at a sponsoring organisation that had its licence revoked in the last 12 months, among other conditions.
There are two broad types of sponsor licence: ‘Worker’ sponsor licences for migrants with long-term job offers, and ‘Temporary worker’ sponsor licences. As an organisation, you can apply for a sponsor licence that covers one or both types of worker. For more advice and guidance on this from our lawyers, please call 0161 820 1101
- A ‘Worker’ sponsor licence enables an organisation to employ a migrant in the long term or permanently. The Skilled Worker visa gives long-term skilled workers the right to work in the UK for a minimum of three years, usually five. There are three subcategories of Skilled Worker visa: the Sportsperson visa, the Minister of Religion visa, and the Intra-company visa. The Sportsperson visa is for elite sportspeople or coaches who will be based in the UK, and the Minister of Religion visa is for migrants coming to the UK to work for a religious organisation. Intra-company visas include Intra-company Transfer and Intra-company Graduate Trainee; these visas enable multinational firms to transfer established staff or graduate trainees to the UK.
- A‘Temporary worker’ sponsor licence allows an organisation to employ an overseas worker on a temporary basis. The subcategories of Temporary Worker visa are: Creative or Sporting (up to a year for a sportsperson, and up to two years for an artist or entertainer), Charity Worker (for unpaid charity workers, lasting up to one year), Religious Worker (up to two years), International Agreement (when the work to be undertaken is covered by international law), Government Authorised Exchange, and Seasonal Worker, the latter for those coming to the UK for up to six months to do farm work.
These visa categories are distinct from the Innovator visa, which replaced the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa category from 29th March 2019, and is aimed at experienced entrepreneurs interested in setting up or running a business in the UK. The initial Innovator visa grants entry for three years, although this can be extended for three years with no maximum time limit in the category.
Please note that businesses established under the Innovator or Entrepreneur visa routes are also entitled to apply for a sponsor licence. Here at Cranbrook Legal, our London immigration lawyers have helped hundreds of entrepreneurs and innovators to recruit the foreign staff they require in order to grow their businesses.
Sponsor licence application refusals by the Home Office are usually accompanied with what is known as a ‘cooling-off’ period, to prevent the applicant from immediately submitting another sponsor licence application.
This ‘cooling-off’ period doesn’t necessarily always take effect in the aftermath of a sponsor licence application being refused. If your application was refused because you were unable to provide information or documentation requested within a specified timeframe for reasons outside of your control, you may not need to wait before being permitted to apply again.
In most cases, however, if you have submitted a sponsorship licence application that has been refused, you can expect a six-month ‘cooling-off’ period to apply. This timeframe may be longer in certain circumstances; if, for instance, you employed an illegal worker and a civil penalty was imposed on you for this, the ‘cooling-off’ period would be 12 months from the date you paid the penalty in full.
The acronym SOC stands for Standard Occupational Classification; this ONS system is used to classify all types of paid jobs in the UK economy.
When your organisation is looking to sponsor an individual under the Skilled Worker visa or the Intra Company Transfer visa, you must ensure that the role you are offering satisfies the visa conditions, with regard to both skill and salary level.
The Government provides up-to-date SOC codes for jobs that are eligible for both the Skilled Worker visa and Intra Company Transfer visa.
When your organisation is successful in its application for a Tier 2 sponsor licence – as it used to be known – your company’s appointed Level 1 and Level 2 users will be granted access to the SMS portal. As addressed above, eight weeks is the standard processing time for a sponsor licence application.
The Authorising Officer will receive the first login ID for the SMS portal by post, while the password will be sent straight to the email address of the Level 1 user you nominated when completing the application form for your sponsor licence.
Yes, there is. A decision can be made within 5 days if your sponsor licence application is one of the first 10 the Home Office receives on that day. Please contact our sponsor licence lawyers now. The Home Office also gives some organisations the option to pay £500 to receive a decision within 10 working days; however, you will only be told whether this is an option for you after you apply.
No, although this is dependent on your type of business. However, you will need to show how you can monitor your employee to ensure compliance.
You must have HR systems in place, for example, that enable you to keep a close eye on your sponsored employees’ immigration status, keep copies of relevant documents such as each employee’s passport and right to work information, and track and record the sponsored employees’ attendance. These systems should also allow you to maintain up-to-date contact details for each employee, and to alert UKVI to any problems like your employee no longer turning up to work.
Please note UKVI will also need to be told about any significant changes to your business – such as a change in address or a substantial change in the nature of the business – within 20 working days.