Sponsor Licence FAQs

‘From January 2021, your business will need be licensed by the Home Office in order to employ any non- British nationals.’

Home Office
What is a sponsor licence?

The licensing regime allows businesses to sponsor employees for a visa to work for them. Businesses must make an application to the Home Office as the first step in the sponsorship process.

Do I need to apply for a licence because of Brexit?

Yes and no. Employers have always had to be licensed by the Home Office to employ non-Europeans. The onset of Brexit has simply extended this requirement to Europeans.

What obligations come with the sponsor licence?

By applying for a licence you are taking on certain responsibilities which, if not discharged, will mean that your licence is revoked. These responsibilities are:

  • Record keeping: for example, making sure you retain a copy of the migrant’s visa on file and making sure their contact details are kept up to date;
  • Tracking and reporting: you must have systems in place that allow you to carefully monitor your migrant’s attendance. In certain circumstances, the Home Office will expect you report migrant non-attendance at work to them.
How do I apply?

The application is made online and followed by the submission of at least 4 mandatory supporting documents. In addition, you must be in a position to show that you can meet the requirements of a licensed employer.

Click here for more detailed information.

What are the costs?

The sponsor licence application fee is £536 for small and medium sized companies and £1476 for large companies.

When you sponsor your migrant, you will need to pay further fees:

  • The immigration skills charge at £364 per year of employment for small/medium employers or £1000 per year for large employers;
  • Certificate of sponsorship assignment fee: £199;
  • Immigration health surcharge at £624 per year of sponsorship;
  • Skilled worker visa application fee: £610 where applying from outside the UK or £704 from within the UK.
How long will it take for the licence to come through?

The standard advertised processing time is 8 weeks. However, as of July 2021, we are seeing well prepared applications approved in 5-6 weeks

Can I sponsor someone in any job? How much do I have to pay them?

No, you can’t sponsor someone in any old job. There are restrictions, this is the ‘skilled worker’ route, after all.

Happily for some employers, the skill level has dropped to RQF 3 or the equivalent of A-Level. Examples of jobs that can now be sponsored in are butchers, driving instructors and upholsterers. Bookkeepers and finance officers (perhaps perversely) are roles that are not eligible for sponsorship.

The minimum salary will typically be £25,600 per year. However, there are further circumstances where the salary will be higher or lower. Please click here for more detailed information on the minimum salary threshold.

Alternatively, please get in touch with us for a no obligation chat.

What is the shortage occupation list?

Shortage occupations are roles where there are not enough settled workers to fill available jobs in particular sectors. The shortage occupation list can be found in Appendix K to the Immigration Rules.

What is a certificate of sponsorship?

A certificate of sponsorship (CoS) is essentially a digital work permit that contains the details of both the migrant worker that you want to employ and the details of the job that they will be doing, e.g. the title, salary and a brief job description. It also confirms whether you have carried out a resident labour market test and involves you making a declaration that the role is genuine.

What are key personnel?

All sponsor licence applicants must name an authorising officer, a key contact and level 1 user on the sponsor licence application. 

The authorising officer should be the most senior person responsible for the recruitment of migrant workers and will be responsible for ensuring the licence obligations are met. 

The key contact is the main point of communication between the Home Office and the sponsor and this role is often filled by a legal representative. 

The level 1 user will have access to the SMS and will carry out ‘day-to-day’ sponsorship duties, like reporting, through the sponsorship management system.

What happens when the licence is approved?

Your level 1 user will receive a password and user ID that will allow them to access the SMS, an online platform that allows you to assign certificates of sponsorship (work permits) to migrant workers and carry out your sponsorship duties.

Can the migrant work for me once I have the licence?

No you will first need to assign the CoS. You will get access to an online portal which will allow you to assign the CoS to the migrant. The certificate of sponsorship will generate a unique reference number which will allow the Home Office to check all the details related to the job that you are sponsoring the migrant in.

Small Company FAQs

My business is a startup, can I apply?

The short answer is yes. However, you will need to show that you are able to offer genuine employment. This may mean supplying a business plan and financial projections.

Is there a minimum amount of money I need in my corporate account before I apply?

There is no stipulated amount of money required in your corporate bank account. Indeed, some of our clients have applied with no funds in their bank account. If this is the case, applicants will need to work harder to explain how it is they will fund the sponsored worker.

I am the sole Director of a company through which I have been contracting, can I apply for a licence?

Yes, you can and our lawyers have advised on hundreds of these sort of situations. Again, the best option is to present your case for applying clearly so as to show why you need the licence. That might mean showing a contract that explains your expansion or the details of a project that requires a skilled worker.

Get in touch with us with further questions

Call us on 0203 086 7236 or fill in the form and we will be in touch within 24 hours for a free 15 minute chat.

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