Sponsor Licence Guidance

Whether you represent a business employing migrant workers, or an educational institution looking for assistance with sponsoring overseas students, the solicitors at Latitude Law will be happy to guide you through the requirements of the PBS sponsorship scheme.

Sponsor licences are available for new hires, intra-company transfers and certain temporary visa routes.

The process of sponsoring an overseas worker has become increasingly complex and restrictive; penalties for non-compliance, or failure to maintain proper records, are significant. Those who are seeking to renew an old Tier 2 sponsor licence will need to take account of changes to the system, and should consult expert advice. To speak to a lawyer about applying for a sponsor licence, call us today on 0044 161 234 6800 or complete our enquiry form and we will get in touch as soon as possible.


What is a Sponsor Licence?

A sponsor licence is the authority you need from UK Visas and Immigration to sponsor non-UK/Irish staff or students in the UK. A sponsor licence lasts four years (unless withdrawn by the Home Office) and must be renewed before expiry if you wish to continue to sponsor overseas staff.

For a UK business or educational institution to be considered for a sponsor licence, you must be able to prove the following:

  • Your business/institution is legitimate and operates lawfully in the UK
  • You have a genuine vacancy that could be filled by an overseas worker, at an appropriate salary and skill level
  • You have proper systems in place to monitor sponsored employees/students
  • You do not have a history of non-compliance with immigration laws

Before applying for a sponsor licence, our solicitors can take a look at your organisation’s policies, practices and documents to ensure they are in line with regulations. We can also advise on the best action to take should changes need to be made. We offer mock audits to firms wishing to test their HR systems, which can help you to determine whether you are well-placed to apply for a sponsor licence.

Sponsor Licence

If you wish to employ a worker who is not an UK/Irish citizen, you must first apply for a sponsor licence. Once issued with the licence, you will be able to facilitate the entry of your employees, or support students’ visa applications.

This will allow them to live and work legally in the UK. There are multiple options for organisations and education institutions, which include:

  • Skilled Worker – where a genuine vacancy meeting minimum skill and salary levels exists.
  • Intra-company transfer -for companies which operate in multiple countries and need to transfer employees to the UK on a long-term basis, or under a graduate training programme
  • Minister of Religion – for ordained ministers who are coming to the UK to join a religious organisation.
  • Sportsperson – for sportspeople and coaches who are looking to take up roles at the highest level in their sport

Student and/ or Child Student Sponsor Licence

A Sponsor Licence is required if your educational institution wants to enrol students who are non-British or Irish. In order to be able to facilitate their visa application, the establishment must offer courses of study to full-time students in the UK.

As a Student and/or Child Student sponsor, you are responsible for:

  • Ensuring the student attends their course
  • Monitoring the student’s unauthorised absences
  • Contacting the authorities if the student leaves their course prior to the course end date

Educational establishments which fail to comply with their duties will be investigated by the UKVI who depending on the nature of the breach may take compliance action.

Applying for a Sponsor Licence

Once you have been deemed eligible for a sponsor licence, we will assist you through the stages of future visa applications, ensuring you comply with the Home Office’s requirements every step of the way. The process includes:

  • Making sure you apply for the correct type of sponsor licence 
  • Helping you find someone suitable in your business/institution to manage the sponsoring
  • Collating all the necessary supporting documents for your sponsor licence application
  • Advising on the correct way to fill in the sponsor licence application form and ensuring you pay the correct fee

Our expert solicitors will be with you at every step of the visa application process and can provide advice on renewing a sponsor licence.

Your Duties as a Sponsor

Once you have obtained a sponsor licence, you have a number of duties that you must adhere to. This includes informing UKVI if:

  • A sponsored worker/student does not turn up for the first day of work/study
  • A sponsored worker/student is absent from work/lessons without your permission for 10 consecutive days
  • A sponsored worker resigns or is dismissed, or a student quits
  • You stop sponsoring a worker or student
  • There are any changes to the sponsored worker’s/student’s circumstances
  • There are changes to your organisational structure

We can provide advice and guidance on how to carry out your duties so you can obtain and maintain a sponsor licence.

About civil penalties

If you are found to be employing a migrant worker without a sponsorship license, you could face severe penalties, as well as irreparable damage to your reputation. Punishments include:

  • imprisonment for up to five years;
  • a fine of up to £20,000 per illegal worker.

If you are given a penalty notice, our specialist solicitors have expertise in the legal framework governing civil penalties and the measures you must employ in order to avoid them. We can advise on the merits of appealing and represent your interests in seeking to have the penalty reduced or cancelled.

How we can help

Latitude Law is dedicated to helping employers and individuals understand and fulfill their legal obligations. Our award-winning immigration solicitors have been recognised by the Legal 500, Whos Who Legal and Chambers & Partners for our integrity and success when dealing with difficult cases.

When you call us, we will consult your situation and determine the best course of action. Our expert advice has helped many organisations and their people attain visas, and your business will benefit from our expertise and our thorough approach to this process.

Contact us

Don’t take any chances when applying for a visa or sponsorship licence; the future of your business or your employees may be at risk if you neglect proper practice or fail to meet every legal requirement. Call Latitude now on 0044 161 234 6800 (Manchester) or 0044 207 046 7185 (London) and our expert immigration solicitors will help you break down the application process for your sponsor licence.

Sponsor Licence FAQs

Why were the sponsor licence rules changed?

The UK’s post-Brexit labour market is facing significant pressures. Staff shortages across many sectors means that businesses are looking internationally to recruit the talent they need to thrive and grow. In 2020 rule changes took away the need for formal resident labour market testing, and removed the cap on sponsored skilled workers allowed to enter the UK.

How is the immigration process becoming more complex?

While 2021 was quiet for immigration law changes, 2022 will see to many adjustments, especially to business-related law. New visa categories will be introduced, and already existing visas and rules will continue to be condensed and changed, such as a new mobility route for global businesses.

A new High Potential Individual visa will provide workers with flexibility to change jobs or employers, and will aim to simplify the immigration process for qualifying applicants. This aligns with the Scale-Up category, which aims to make immigration easier for those with viable business ideas.

While these factors look promising on the surface, they provide more options for potential immigrants to navigate and understand, further increasing the complexity of the system. Also, they raise questions about how they might affect the standard working visas, and whether further development in these areas will be neglected.

How much does it cost to apply for a sponsor licence?

The sponsor licence application fees vary depending on the type of workers you are planning to hire, the length of time they will be employed for, and the size of your business.

If you are applying:

  • For a standard Worker licence – £536 for small or charitable sponsors, and £1,476 for medium and large sponsors.
  • For a Temporary Worker licence – £536 for both small and charitable, and medium and large sponsors.
  • For a Worker and Temporary Worker licence – £536 for small or charitable sponsors, and £1,476 for medium and large sponsors.
  • To add a Standard Worker licence to an already existing Temporary Worker licence – no fee is required for small and charitable sponsors, but £1,476 for medium and large sponsors.
  • To add a Temporary Worker licence to an existing Worker licence – no fee is required for sponsors of any size.

For any questions about these bands, or what your company qualifies as, please call 0044 161 234 6800 for our Manchester office, or 0044 207 046 7185 for our London office

When can I renew my sponsorship licence?

If you hold a sponsorship licence you can check your expiry date and earliest renewal date in your sponsor management system (SMS) account. Usually, the earliest renewal date is 3 months before the expiry date, but sometimes the Home Office can invite a sponsor to apply earlier. You will need to ensure all the information in your SMS account is accurate before applying to renew the sponsor licence and paying the application fee.

What happens if my sponsorship licence application is refused?

If you have made genuine errors in your application, such as missing a document, the Home Office will usually refund the application fee and you’ll need to resubmit an application once you’ve corrected any errors.

On the other hand, if any of the following is applicable you will need to wait at least 6 months before you can re-apply and you won’t receive a refund for your application fee:

  • You submitted false documentation
  • Your HR and internal processes are not sufficient to comply with your sponsorship duties
  • You do not meet the requirements to be a sponsor in the category you applied
  • You do not trade in the UK
  • You are legally prohibited from becoming a director of a company in the UK

What should I do if I receive a ‘sponsor licence revocation letter’ from the Home Office?

There are many reasons a sponsor licence can be revoked, therefore it is recommended that you seek expert legal advice as soon as you receive a revocation letter from the Home Office. Depending on the severity of the case, a solicitor may be able to start building a case to appeal the decision.

How do I prevent my sponsor licence being revoked?

In order to prevent your licence certificate being revoked, it is advised that you always adhere to your sponsorship duties. This includes:

  • Checking that your foreign workers have the correct skills, qualifications and accreditations to do the job advertised
  • Only assigning certificates of sponsorship for suitable jobs
  • Making UKVI aware if your sponsored workers aren’t adhering to the terms of their visa

Our experts

What our clients say…

Stalled EU Settlement Scheme application

Just to thank you all for the help given with Bodil's EU Settlement Scheme application, which came through in the last few days.

A good friend of ours once said: "People do not employ lawyers because they help; they employ them because they make a difference".

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All content on this page was reviewed by Latitude Law and is accurate as of 11/07/2021