FAQs - Sponsor Licence

How can I apply for sponsor licence to employ migrant workers in my UK business?

You can apply for the Skilled Worker sponsor licence online on the Home Office, UKVI website. 

Once you have submitted your online application, you must then send to the Home Office, UKVI all of the following to validate your application. A valid application must:

  1. contain the submission sheet, which has been signed and dated by the Authorising Officer (all pages must be sent); and
  2. contain all of the documents listed on the submission sheet as mandatory documents; and
  3. all be sent in together within 5 working days of completion of the electronic application.
What is the eligibility criteria for sponsor licence?

o get a licence as an employer, you cannot have:

You’ll need appropriate systems in place to monitor sponsored employees and people to manage sponsorship in your business.

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) will review your application form and supporting documents. They may visit your business to make sure you’re trustworthy and capable of carrying out your duties.

What is a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)?

A certificate is an electronic document assigned by the Home Office approved sponsor to the migrant worker for the migrant worker to apply for the UK visa to work for the sponsor in the sponsor's UK business. Each certificate has its own number which a worker can use to apply for a visa.

The sponsor must assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to each foreign worker the sponsor wants to employ in the UK business.

When the Home Office approved sponsor assigns the certificate to a worker, they must use it to apply for their visa within 3 months. They must not apply for their visa more than 3 months before the start date of the job listed on the certificate.

What is a defined Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)?

A defined Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is normally assigned to a migrant worker who is being sponsored from outside the UK by the Home Office UKVI approved spnosor.

The Home Office UKVI approved sponsor must apply for defined Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) for the foreign worker through the sponsorship management system (SMS). The sponsor will get access to the SMS when their application for sponsor licence is approved by the Home Office UKVI.

Applications for defined Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) are usually approved within one working day. It may take longer if UKVI need to carry out further checks on the information in the application. Defined Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) will appear in the sponsor's SMS account once they have been approved by the Home Office UKVI. The sponsor can then assign them to the migrant worker.

What is an undefined Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)?

An undefined Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is normally assigned to a migrant worker who is being sponsored from inside the UK by the Home Office UKVI approved spnosor. When a sponsor applies for the sponsor licence, they will be asked in the application form to estimate how many undefined certificates they will need for Workers and Temporary Workers in the first year.

What is the Home Office UKVI fee for assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to a migrant worker?

You’ll need to pay a fee when you assign a certificate to a worker. How much a certificate will cost depends on the type of sponsor licence you have.

Type of Licence UKVI Fee Per Certificate

Worker (except workers on the International Sportsperson visa)

£199

Temporary Worker

£21

International Sportsperson - where the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is assigned for more than 12 months

£199

International Sportsperson - where the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is assigned for 12 months or less

£21

If you assign a certificate of sponsorship to a worker on a Skilled Worker or Senior or Specialist Worker visa, you might also need to pay the immigration skills charge.

What is the job suitability criteria to sponsor a migrant worker?

You can sponsor a worker if the job they’re going to do has a suitable rate of pay and skill level, or meets the other criteria needed for their visa.

What are the various types of sponsor licence?

The types of two types of sponsor licence which include Worker licence and Tempoary worker licence. The licence you need depends on whether the workers you want to fill your jobs are:

  • ‘Workers’ - for skilled or long-term employment
  • ‘Temporary workers’ - for specific types of temporary employment

You can apply for a sponsor licence covering one or both types of worker.

What is a Worker Licence?

A ‘Worker’ licence will let you sponsor people in different types of skilled employment. The skilled work can be for a short time, long-term or permanent depending on the worker’s visa.

The Worker licence is split into:

  • Skilled Worker - the role must meet the job suitability requirements
  • Senior or Specialist Worker visa (Global Business Mobility) - for multinational companies which need to transfer established employees to the UK, previously the Intra-company Transfer visa
  • Minister of Religion - for people coming to work for a religious organisation
  • International Sportsperson - for elite sportspeople and coaches who will be based in the UK
What is a Temporary Worker licence?

A ‘Temporary Worker’ licence will let you sponsor people on a temporary basis, including for volunteering and job-shadowing. You can only get a Temporary Worker licence for specific types of employment and visas.

The Temporary licence is split into:

  • Creative Worker - to work in the creative industry, for example as an entertainer or artist (up to 2 years)
  • Charity Worker - for unpaid workers at a charity (up to 1 year)
  • Religious Worker - for those working in a religious order or organisation (2 years)
  • Government Authorised Exchange - work experience (1 year), research projects or training, for example practical medical or scientific training (2 years) to enable a short-term exchange of knowledge
  • International Agreement - where the worker is coming to do a job which is covered by international law, for example employees of overseas governments
  • Graduate Trainee (Global Business Mobility) - for workers transferring to their employer’s UK branch as part of a graduate training programme
  • Service Supplier (Global Business Mobility) - for workers with a contract to provide services for a UK company (6 or 12 months)
  • UK Expansion Worker (Global Business Mobility) - for workers sent to the UK to set up a new branch or subsidiary of an overseas business
  • Secondment Worker (Global Business Mobility) - for workers transferring from overseas to work for a different UK business as part of a high-value contract
  • Seasonal Worker - for those coming to the UK to work in ‘edible horticulture’ for up to 6 months (for example, picking fruit and vegetables)

You can also use the Seasonal Worker visa to sponsor:

  • pork butchery workers for up to 6 months
  • poultry production workers - until 31 December 2021
  • HGV drivers involved in food transport - until 28 February 2022
Who manages the sponsorship process within the business of the Home Office approved sponsor?

You need to appoint people within your business to manage the sponsorship process when you apply for a licence.

The main tool they’ll use is the sponsorship management system (SMS).

The roles are:

  • Authorising Officer – a senior and competent person responsible for the actions of staff and representatives who use the SMS
  • Key Contact Person – your main point of contact with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)
  • Level 1 User – responsible for all day-to-day management of your licence using the SMS

These roles can be filled by the same person or different people.

You can also appoint an optional Level 2 User once you have your licence. This is an SMS user with more restricted access than a level 1 user, for example they cannot withdraw a certificate of sponsorship.

At least one level 1 user must be your employee. You can have additional level 1 or level 2 users who are employed by third-party organisations that provide you with HR services. A temporary member of staff supplied by an agency can be a level 2 user.

You can allocate any of the roles to a UK-based legal representative, apart from the authorising officer role. Your representative must be qualified to give immigration advice or services.

What are the sutiability checks for the Authorising Officer, Key Contact Person, Level 1 User or Level 2 User?

You and your staff will be checked to make sure you’re suitable for these roles. You may not get your licence if anyone involved in sponsorship has:

You and your allocated staff must also:

  • be based in the UK most of the time
  • not be a contractor or consultant contracted for a specific project
  • not be subject to a bankruptcy restriction order or undertaking, or a debt relief restriction order or undertaking
  • not have a history of non-compliance with sponsor requirements

Your allocated staff must usually be paid members of staff, or office holders.

What the Home Office UKVI fees for the sponsor licence application?

You need to pay a fee when you apply for sponsor licence. The fee for sponsor licence application depends on the type of licence you’re applying for and what type of organisation you are.

Type of Licence UKVI Fee For Small or Charitable Sponsors UKVI Fee For Medium or Large Sponsors
Worker Licence

£536

£1476
Temporary Worker Licence

£536

£536
Worker Licence and Tempoary Worker Licence

£536

£1476
Add a Worker licence to an existing Temporary Worker licence

No Fee

£940
Add a Temporary Worker licence to an existing Worker licence

No Fee

No Fee

How to tell if you are a small or charitable sponsor?

You are usually a small sponsor if at least 2 of the following apply:

  • your annual turnover is £10.2 million or less
  • your total assets are worth £5.1 million or less
  • you have 50 employees or fewer

You are a charitable sponsor if you are:

How long it takes to get a decision on an application for sponsor licence?

Most applications are dealt with in less than 8 weeks. UKVI may need to visit your business.

You may be able to pay an extra £500 to get a decision within 10 working days. This service is limited to a small number of applications every working day. Faster decisions are allocated in the order that requests arrive (first come, first served).

You’ll be told how to ask for a faster decision after you apply.

Can I apply for review of the refusal of my sponsor licence application?

You can apply to request a review of your application if you think it was refused because:

  • the caseworker processing your application made a mistake
  • your supporting documents were not considered
What is Immigration Skills Charge?

You might have to pay an additional charge when you assign a certificate of sponsorship to someone applying for a Skilled Worker or Senior or Specialist Worker visa. This is called the ‘immigration skills charge’.

You must pay the immigration skills charge if the sponsored workers are applying for a visa from:

  • outside the UK to work in the UK for 6 months or more
  • inside the UK for any length of time
When is the sponsor not required to pay Immigration Skills Charge?

You will not have to pay the Immigration Skills Charge if you are sponsoring someone with one of the following occupation codes:

  • chemical scientists (2111)
  • biological scientists and biochemists (2112)
  • physical scientists (2113)
  • social and humanities scientists (2114)
  • natural and social science professionals not elsewhere classified (2119)
  • research and development managers (2150)
  • higher education teaching professionals (2311)
  • clergy (2444)
  • sports players (3441)
  • sports coaches, instructors or officials (3442)

You also might not have to pay the charge if you’re sponsoring a worker who was assigned a certificate before 6 April 2017 - there’s more information in the immigration skills charge guidance for sponsors.

You will not need to pay the charge for any of the worker’s dependants, for example their partner or child.

You will not have to pay the Immigration Skills Charge if you are switching from Student visa to either a Skilled Worker or Senior or Specialist Worker visa and then extend you stay on the new visa.