Sponsor Licence Guidance

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

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.

To speak to a lawyer about applying for a Tier 2 or 4 sponsor licence, call us today on 0161 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-EEA (European Economic Area) staff or students in the UK. A licence lasts four years (unless withdrawn by the Home Office) and must be renewed before expiry if you wish to continue to sponsor overseas staff.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 conducted a resident labour market test and failed to recruit from the resident market
  • There are proper systems in place to monitor sponsored employees/students
  • You are offering genuine employment with an appropriate salary or teaching
  • You do not have a history of rejected sponsorship applications

Before applying for a sponsor licence, our solicitors can take a look at your organisation’s policies and practices to ensure they are in line with regulations, and advise on the best action to take should changes need to be made.  We offer dummy audits to firms wishing to test their HR systems.

Tier 2 (Sponsor Licence) Visa

If you wish to employ a skilled worker from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), you must apply for a tier 2 (sponsor licence) visa for that employee to be eligible to live and work legally in the UK long-term. There are multiple options for companies considering hiring migrant workers, which include:

  • General – for a role which is on the shortage occupation list, or where there isn’t talent available in the UK market.
  • 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 people who are coming to the UK to work for a religious organisation.
  • Sportsperson – for sportspeople and coaches who are looking to take up roles at the highest level in their sport


Tier 4 (Sponsor Licence) Visa

A tier 4 sponsor license is required if your educational institution wants to enrol students from outside the European Economic Area (EEA). In order to be able to provide tier 4 sponsorship visa, the establishment must offer courses of study to full-time students in the UK.

As a tier 4 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 PBS 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.

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

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 tier 2 sponsorship license, you could face severe penalties, as well as irreparable damage to your reputation. Punishment includes:

  • 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 on 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.

Sponsor Licence Q&As

How can I get tier 2 sponsorship to work in the UK?

In order to be eligible for a tier 2 (sponsor licence) visa and legally work in the UK you must:

  • Have no unspent convictions for immigration offences or other particular crimes
  • Be able to monitor foreign workers under your licence
  • Have no previous history of failing to carry out your sponsorship duties

What visa tiers can you employ workers under?

There are two options for employing foreign workers:

  • Tier 2 – skilled workers with long-term job offers
  • Tier 5 – skilled workers with temporary job offers

To discuss the best option for your business, get in touch with an expert today.

What happens once a sponsor licence application is successful?

If your sponsor licence application is successful you will be given an A-rated licence which allows you to begin assigning certificates of sponsorship if you have suitable jobs available.

Your licence will be valid for up to 4 years, providing you meet your duties as a sponsor.

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

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What our clients say…

Naturalisation success for a medical doctor

I shall have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending Latitude Law, which is clearly an extremely proficient unit, exemplified by helping clients with patience, attention to detail and sensitivity in equal measure.

Particular mention is merited to Ms Gemma Wylie, whose professionalism is par excellence. I couldn’t thank her enough.


January 2020
The long road to permanent residence

Me and Fady want to thank you and your team for helping us throughout the past 8 years with Fady's immigration issues and finally getting him to live a life without worries and struggles. We just came back from Egypt where we visited his family after 8 years of Fady not seeing them. This wouldn't have been possible without your help and who knows where we would be today if it wasn't for you helping us.

April 2019
Successful Sponsor Licence Application for Religious Charity

I cannot recommend Latitude Law highly enough. Their expertise in the area of immigration law has helped our charity navigate quite complex issues and at every point of the process their communication and advice was excellent. We look forward to an ongoing relationship with Latitude Law and highly recommend their services. - Andy Taylor - UK Director of Ellel Ministries

February 2019

All content on this page was reviewed by Latitude Law and is accurate as of 11/02/2019