Sponsor Licence for Employers

If a UK business wants to sponsor foreign migrant workers to work for the business in the UK, then it will need to apply for a sponsor licence from the Home Office. If the sponsor licence is granted, the business will then have access to the sponsor management system which allows it to assign certificates of sponsorship to prospective employees. Without a certificate of sponsorship, the employee cannot apply for a sponsored visa.

If you wish to employ a person who is not a settled worker, and who does not otherwise have immigration permission to work in the UK, you will need to be authorised by the Home Office. This authorisation is known as a ‘sponsor licence’, and employers who hold a sponsor licence are known as ‘sponsors’. Individual persons are not eligible to be recognised as sponsors, unless they are sole traders who wish to sponsor someone to work in their business. Sponsorship plays two main roles in a worker’s application for permission to enter or stay in the UK:

  • where relevant, it provides evidence that the worker will fill a genuine vacancy in a skilled occupation and will be paid appropriately
  • it involves a pledge from the sponsor that it accepts all of the duties of sponsorship

There are two broad types of sponsor licence you can apply for: Worker, and Temporary Worker. Within these two types, there are a number of individual immigration ‘routes’. You can apply to be licensed in as many routes as you feel appropriate for your business or organisation.

You must also apply for a Sponsor Licence for unpaid work, for example if you are a charity. Sponsoring someone does not guarantee that they will get a visa to work for you in the UK, as they must apply for the visa separately.

The following persons do not need to be sponsored for a visa:

  • British Citizens
  • Irish Citizens
  • Those with settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme
  • Those with indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK
  • Persons with limited leave to remain in the UK who have permission to work


To confirm you are eligible for a licence, you must provide the supporting documents listed in the sponsor guidance and any additional documents the Home Office may request. The Home Office asks for these documents to make sure the business is genuine and has an operating or trading presence. They may verify these documents to confirm they are genuine. If you have no operating or trading presence in the UK, the application will be refused, unless you are applying for a sponsor licence to sponsor a UK Expansion Worker. A business applying for a sponsor licence must provide supporting documents to establish that it’s a genuine organisation e.g. tax documents, company accounts, business bank statements, business lease agreement etc.

To get a Sponsor Licence as an employer, you cannot have:

  • Unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences or certain other crimes such as fraud or money laundering
  • Had a sponsor licence revoked in the last 12 months

You will need appropriate system in place to monitor sponsored employees and people to manage the 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.

You must provide evidence that demonstrates the job you are recruiting for falls under the list of eligible occupations.

You can choose which type of licence you want to apply for. This will depend on the type of worker you want to sponsor.

You must also decide who will manage the sponsorship management system within your business before you apply.

After you apply

  • You’ll be given a licensing rating if your application is successful.
  • You will be able to issue certificates of sponsorship if you have jobs that are suitable for sponsorship.
  • Your licence will be valid for 4 years. You may lose your licence if you do not meet your responsibilities as a sponsor.

If your business or employer are considering applying for a sponsor licence for the purpose of recruiting foreign migrant workers and you require further information or assistance with the application, please contact us for a quote.