Sponsor Licence Categories Explained

The United Kingdom is a hub for businesses, education, and innovation, attracting organisations and individuals from all over the globe. To enable UK-based employers to hire skilled workers from outside the UK, the UK government has established various types of sponsor licences. This blog will explore UK sponsor licence categories and the requirements associated with each of them.

Sponsor licences can be divided into 2 general categories – Worker and Temporary Worker. In the next parts, we’ll break down these two main types of sponsor licences. If you’re an employer trying to comprehend the sponsor licence categories, this blog can be a good start for you.  

Stay with us to explore each category in detail and get the knowledge to make your sponsorship plans a success.

Sponsor Licence Categories

Worker Sponsor Licence

The ‘Worker’ licence covers Skilled Worker, Senior or Specialist Worker (Global Business Mobility), Minister of Religion, and International Sportsperson visas. Below is a general overview of these visa categories:

Skilled Worker

The Skilled Worker visa enables employers to endorse non-UK citizens for employment in eligible, skilled positions within the UK. Individuals can apply for this visa if they achieve 70 points. 

Points can be achieved by meeting specific eligibility criteria, including skill and salary thresholds, proficiency in the English language, and possessing a qualifying job offer from a UK employer with a valid sponsorship licence.

Senior or Specialist Worker

The Global Business Mobility (GBM) program includes Specialist and Senior Workers visa, which is one of five visas available for international organisations aiming to establish a foothold in the UK or relocate staff here. 

The Specialist Worker visa is designed for senior or specialised employees seeking to transfer to a UK subsidiary or branch of their overseas employer.

Minister of Religion

The Minister of Religion visa is part of the UK’s work visa pathways, designed specifically for individuals seeking to serve as members of a religious order or religious missionaries within a faith-based organisation or religious order in the UK. 

To apply, individuals must have a job offer and be sponsored by a holder of a sponsor licence.

International Sportsperson

The international sportsperson visa in the UK is designed for elite and acknowledged sportspeople or coaches who aim to contribute to the development of their sport at the highest level within the country. 

This visa offers a streamlined immigration pathway for highly skilled sports coaches and globally recognized athletes. It replaces and consolidates the Tier 2 Sportsperson Visa and the sporting segment of the Tier 5 Creative and Sporting Visa.

Requirements for the Worker Sponsor Licence

To make a successful application for a worker sponsor licence, you need to meet the following eligibility criteria:

  1. Genuine organisation: To prove your status, you will need to provide documentary evidence listed under Appendix A.
  2. Genuine employment: The role on offer must be a genuine position. It should require the candidate to perform duties and responsibilities compliant with the required skill level. The candidate should also be paid a salary at or above the relevant salary threshold. 
  3. Compliance with sponsor licence duties: You should ensure your HR systems and processes are compliant with sponsor duties of record-keeping, monitoring and reporting.
  4. Honesty and reliability: The UKVI will conduct background checks on your key personnel, and anyone involved in the day-to-day running of your licence.

If your business meets all the requirements above, your application for a worker sponsor licence is likely to be successful. If granted, the application will be valid for 4 years after which it will need to be renewed.

Temporary Worker Sponsor Licence

Temporary Worker Sponsor Licence

UK employers must hold a temporary worker sponsor licence to sponsor overseas nationals to come to the UK under the following visa categories:

Scale-up Worker – this type of visa allows individuals to come to the UK to do an eligible job for a rapidly expanding business.

Creative Worker – This visa category is designed for international applicants interested in working in the UK creative sector. They should be able to offer a distinctive contribution to the country’s vibrant cultural scene, for example, as artists or entertainers. This visa allows for a stay of up to 12 months, with the possibility of extending it to 24 months if they continue working for the same sponsor. 

Charity Worker – This visa category is designed for individuals who wish to engage in unpaid work for a recognized charitable organisation in the UK on a voluntary basis. The visa allows for a duration of up to 12 months.

Religious Worker – This visa category is intended for individuals who wish to assist a religious institution’s activities in the UK. This could involve working in a UK-based religious order or taking on a non-pastoral role within the UK. The visa allows for a duration of up to 2 years.

Government Authorised Exchange – This visa category is suitable for individuals seeking to visit the UK for training or research purposes under an authorised exchange program, with a duration of up to 2 years.

International Agreement – This visa category is applicable to individuals offering services in the UK that are protected under international law, such as employees of international organisations or private staff in a diplomatic household. The duration of stay is typically up to 2 years in most cases.

Graduate Trainee (Global Business Mobility) – This visa category is designed for foreign nationals who are relocating to a UK branch of their international employer as part of a graduate training program for a managerial or specialist position, replacing the regulations of the Intra-Company Graduate Trainee route.

Service Supplier (Global Business Mobility) – This visa is intended for service providers or self-employed professionals who are delivering a contractual service to a UK business under a qualifying trade agreement, replacing the applicable regulations of the International Agreement route.

UK Expansion Worker (Global Business Mobility) – This visa category is for foreign individuals who are dispatched to the UK by an international company to establish a UK branch or subsidiary, replacing the regulations of the Representative of an Overseas Business route for sole representatives.

Secondment Worker (Global Business Mobility) – This visa category is for individuals being relocated to the UK by their overseas employer to work for a UK business under a high-value contract, introducing a new business immigration pathway within the UK’s Immigration Rules.

Seasonal Worker – This visa category is designed for international applicants interested in seasonal employment within the UK’s horticulture sector, under an approved scheme operator, for a duration of up to 6 months.

Requirements for the Temporary Worker Sponsor Licence

To qualify for a temporary worker sponsor licence, organisations must meet specific eligibility criteria along with route-specific requirements, depending on the worker category. Generally, applicants need to demonstrate to UKVI that they are a legitimate and lawful entity operating in the UK. They will need to provide comprehensive evidence in support of their application. 

The Home Office must also be convinced of the organisation’s trustworthiness and its ability to fulfil sponsor duties. UKVI assesses the applicant organisation’s history, background, and key personnel mentioned in the licence application. This evaluation includes examining any past violations of Immigration Rules, criminal convictions, or any evidence suggesting dishonesty, unreliability, or behaviour not conducive to public good by the individuals involved.

Additionally, UKVI may conduct a pre-licence site visit if there are concerns about the organisation’s ability to comply with sponsor duties. This assessment focuses on the applicant’s recruitment practices and HR systems. UKVI ensures the organisation can monitor its migrant workforce, adhere to record-keeping and reporting obligations, and not pose a threat to immigration control.

In addition to general requirements, the applicant organisation must meet specific criteria for the relevant route. For instance, under the GBM routes, the applicant must offer genuine employment that meets minimum skill and salary standards and demonstrate a qualifying overseas business connection.


Navigating the intricacies of the UK sponsor licence system is essential for businesses and educational institutions seeking to sponsor foreign workers and students. Understanding the various categories and their associated requirements is crucial to ensuring a smooth and compliant application process. By acquiring a sponsor licence, organisations can benefit from accessing a pool of skilled professionals worldwide.

At WestBridge Business Immigration we have the necessary experience to assist you with a sponsor licence application. Our experts offer support at all stages of your business immigration matter from preparing and submitting applications for a sponsor licence to helping potential employees to apply for UK visas.

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