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Sponsorship Licence

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Sponsorship Licence

What is a UK Sponsorship Licence?

United Kingdom businesses rely on workers from outside the UK and these are called migrant workers who need immigration persmission to work in the UK. In order to gain such immigration permission to work a UK organisation needs to apply for a sponsor licence, which allows them to sponsor/employ someone who has immigration restrictions to work in the UK.

There are mainly two kind of sponsor licences 

  • Worker Licence covers - Skilled workers - this includes Health and Care Workers, Minister of Religion, international sports person or senior specialist worker; 

  • Temporary Worker Licence covers   - Scale up worker, creative worker, charity worker, religious worker, Expansion worker, Seasonal worker, etc  

Sponsor licence is a pre-requisit before getting a foreign/migrant worker to work for your organisation in the UK. 

Who can apply for a UK Sponsorship Licence?

Any organisation in the UK can apply for a sponsorship licence, provided they are able to provide the evidence required. Appendix A of the immigration rules provides list of documents applicable to each type of organisation. These organisations can be an independent business, franchise, or a new start up business. Each organisation will have a different set of requirements that must be met before a UK Sponsorship Licence is granted. 

You will also be able apply as a sole trader or limited company or LLP or PLC in the United Kingdom. A company must be genuinely operating a business in the UK, intend to hiring a genuine worker, and must have a robust HR system which should evidence when required to meet the Home Office compliance requirment. There are certain mandatory requirements for newly established businesses who intend to apply for the sponsor licence and they are required to provide bank statements from an FCA and Bank of England regulated/recognised banks with the employers liability insurance, therefore there are no restrictions for new companies to apply for sponsor licence. 

There is also a global business mobility route where companies outside the UK can also apply for a sponsor licence in the event they intend to open a subsidiary in the United Kingdom and send an expansion worker. 

Key Personell

In order to apply for the sponsor licence you need to have an authorising officer who is responsible for the maintenance of the licence and is responsible for record keeping in line with Appendix D. Authorising officer can also be the level 1 User who is responsible for reporting and is allowed to assign Certificate of Sponsorship (see below) and must be an senior employee or director of the organsation. They should not be under immigration restriction and is possible must be holding Indefinite Leave to Remain or British Citizenship.  Authorising officer must not have any unspent criminal convictions for immigration crimes, fraud, etc or been involved with organisation who are suspected of immigration fraud or have had their licence suspended. 

Once the sponsor licence is granted the organisations will get access to an online portal - that is Sponsor Management System (SMS). A username is assigned to level 1 user (a person responsible for day to day management of the licence) who is allowed to issue certificate of sponsorship (CoS). It is strongly advised by the Home Office not to share the login details to the sponsor management system. Generally the Level 1 user must be working for the company and is allowed to assign the certificate of sponsorship for the workers the organisation is intending to bring to the United Kingdom. 

A regulated lawyer can  also be appointed as a Level 1 User to manage the licence and assign the CoS. You can speak to our lawyers in detail for this service. 

The fee for sponsor licence is £536 for small organisation and £1476 for large organisations.  A large organisation is which have either two - Assets of £5.1 million OR turn over of £10.2 million or above  OR  has more than 50 employees

Sponsoring a Worker

The companies or sole traders who are intending to hire workers from outside the UK or workers from inside the UK who need sponsorship, must make sure that they meet the genuineness requirement. The genuineness requirement is very important and you must be able provide evidence if requested that the worker you are intending to hire has a genuine vacancy, have relevant skills and experience and there is a genuine demand for the organisation to hire a worker. Each worker you wish to hire must be assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), who will apply for a skilled worker visa on the basis of the CoS 

You will need to pay a relevant salary which after 04 April 2024 is £38,700 or £30,600 for new entrants or job titles on Immigration Salary list. The workers hired under health and care route will need to be paid £23,200. You can find detailed salary breakdown on Appendix Skilled Worker

Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)

There are two types of Certificate of Sponsorships 

  • Defined CoS - A defined CoS can only be requested once your organisation has been granted a sponsor licence and is only relevant for the migrant worker who is overseas/outside the UK; 
  • Undefined CoS - An undefined CoS can be requested at the time of submitting the application for the sponsor licence provided you have shortlisted a worker who is inside the UK and will be working for your organisation

The certificate of sponsorships are issued through the Sponsor Management System (SMS) and must be paid for by the employer. There is Immigration Skills Charge paid in advance of £364 per year for small organisation or £1000 per year for large organisation. The CoS fee is £239 for Worker route and £25 for temporary worker routes.

The defined certificate of sposnorships are valid for 3 months and once assigned regardless whether defined or undefined the CoS must be used by the applicant within 3 months of assignment. 

Applying for a Sponsor Licence

In order to apply for the sponsor licence you must complete the online application and make sure you correctly provide all the information requested with answers to question with the required evidence listed in Appendix A. The documents you require generally change according to type of organisation you have, however, you can submit any 4 documents from Appendix A which can include - 

  • Evidence that you have employer’s liability insurance cover for at least £5m from an authorized insurer.  (The Financial Conduct Authority maintains a register of authorized insurers.) 
  • Evidence that you have the appropriate planning permission to operate your type/class of business at your trading address where this is a Local Authority requirement.
  • Your latest Audited Annual Accounts with the name of the accountant clearly shown. The accountant should be a member of an Accredited Accounting Body (CIMA, CIPFA, ACCA, ACA etc). If you are legally obliged to submit audited accounts, one of the four documents must be your most recent set of audited accounts.
  • Certificate of VAT registration;         
  • Evidence of Registration with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) as an employer to pay PAYE & National Insurance. Provide proof of PAYE Reference Number & Accounts Office Reference Number. (Evidence  of registration must be original or certified copies of documentation issued by HMRC only)
  • Latest Notice to file a Company Tax Return - CT603 & Company Tax Return - CT600 (Both parts must be supplied).
  • Latest Corporate/Business Bank Statement and/or a letter from your Bank setting out the dealings it has had with you, including the nature and duration of its dealings. 
  • Proof of ownership or lease of your business premises. If you send a copy of your lease agreement it must be signed by all parties concerned.

Kindly note: the above documents are general list of documents, however, these may change or further documents may be required according to type of organisation you are operating. 

You are also required to answer the questions about your organisation, details about the job title, salary you are offering, if you have advertised the role then details of such advertisements, etc. 

Once all is ready you can submit the online application and make the relevant payment of £536 for small sponsor or £1476 for large sponsor. Once the payment is done you need to download the submission sheet which needs to be signed by the authorising officer and then you can submit the relevant information and evidence to the Home Office via email. Should you wish to opt for priority you can do so by paying additional £500 to get the decision within 10 working days, which normally is given in 40 working days. 

Validity Periods

The Sponsorship Licence is valid for 10 years and certificate of sponsorship is valid for a period of 3 months from the date of issue . However, the CoS can be issued for a minimum of 6 months or over to a maximum period of 5 years. Note that salary requirements will differ according to the period the CoS is issued for which should be £38,700 from 04 April 2024 for skilled worker or according to Appendix Skilled Occupation Codes whichever is higher. Health and Care workers will need to be paid a salary of £22,300 or NHS payscale Bands whichever is higher.  

Other key points to consider are:

  • Your Certificate of Sponsorship must include the same details as in your passport

  • It must be assigned to you by your sponsor no more than three months before the date you apply

  • Your certificate of sponsorship must not have been withdrawn by your sponsor or the Home Office (UKVI)

  • If you don’t use your Certificate of Sponsorship within three months of your sponsor assigning it to you, it will run out

After receiving the Certificate of sponsorship the applicant must apply for the relevant visa. 

Freqently Asked Questions

Does the company need to be operating for a certain number of years to apply for sponsor licence? 

No, your company can be a start up there is no minimum length the company should have been operating

Made a Mistake on the CoS how can this be corrected?

The mistake on the CoS can only be corrected via a Sponsor Note which must be made before the applicant uses the CoS

I am waiting on the CoS what can I Do?

If you have submitted an undefined CoS you can request priority by submitting the priority application and paying £200 for Defined CoS there is no priority available

How much Immigration Skills Charge is I issue a 3 years CoS for Small organisation?

The cost of CoS for 3 years will be £1092 Immigration Skills Charge and Fee for CoS that is £239 or £25

Who needs to pay for the CoS?

The employer must pay for the CoS, however, certain employers can have claw back clauses in their employment contracts 

The Authorising Officer left the company What needs to be done?

A new authorising officer must be appointment by the company and the details including their National insurance number shoumdl be provided to the Home Office 

Can I appoint a lawyer as Level 1 User ?

Yes, you can appoint a lawyer as level 1 user, a submission sheet must be sent to the Sponsor Management team on 


Do you need to apply for a Sponsorship Licence?

Speak to our experts to find out about our fast, friendly and affordable service

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Visa and Migration is a private OISC regulated company (F201500999) and is not an official Government body. If you would like to prepare and submit your UK immigration application yourself you can do so by visiting the UKVI website.