Sponsor Licence Guidance

Whether you represent a business employing migrant workers, or an educational institution looking for assistance with a sponsor licence, 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 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-UK/Irish 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 A licence lasts four years (unless withdrawn by the Home Office) and must be renewed before expiry if you wish to continue to sponsor overseas staff.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, 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.

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 your employees or students’ visa applications.

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

  • Skilled Worker – 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

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 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 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 sponsorship to work in the UK?

In order to be eligible for a 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:

  • Skilled Worker – in a permanent role
  • Intra Company Transfer – 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

Our solicitors

What our clients say…

UK Entry Clearance Granted

I would like to express my most sincere gratitude to Joel Reiss for his amazing service in relation to my visa application.

Reiss was outstanding as a consultant and adviser and my family and I highly value the efforts he took; we are deeply appriciative of his work and knowledge in the legal matters, processes and proceedings. He prepared our application including a covering letter from scratch, which he refined through discussion before making it an impeccable one to refuse. There were a few complicated elements surrounding our application and we believe had it not been for Mr.Reiss and his flawless services together with the expertise of Latitude Law, we would not have recieved our visa.

He was quick in clarifying our queries and made it a point to reply as soon as possible. Even when we had to be away from work, Reiss made sure our application was not interrupted and it could be filed on time. The constant communication and the replies continued even after the application was submitted and the services were paid for all the way till we recieved the decision. We have even been informed of the travel guidelines and quarantine regulations, and I honestly believe the fee we paid did not include these supplementary services.

I would also like to extend my upmost appreciation to Gary McIndoe, the Director, Latitude Law and everybody else at the firm including Jessica Lee for their service and cooperation.

I would not think twice in recommending Joel Reiss and Latitude Law for visa application and allied services.

Mr Vineesh

Success for the Bouameur Family

I am writing this on behalf of the whole family, we would like to say thank you. These two words are such small words for the gratitude and high regard we all hold you in.

Your firm and especially you have been with us throughout the difficult years we have had and you have always been there when we needed picking up, our shoulder to cry on that saw us through with honesty and realistic advice.

I cannot recommend your firm and you enough to people who find themselves at the mercy of a system that at best can be described as confusing.

You have given us back our lives and for that you will always be a cherished member of our family and never forgotten

Many many thanks to you and your team for everything

The Bouameur Family

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.

Dr LG

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