Sponsor licence application

Sponsor licence applications demand extensive supporting documentation to evidence eligibility.

We can manage the entire process for you.

Sponsor licence application

A successful sponsor licence application will enable your organisation to lawfully employ skilled migrant workers.

If your sponsor licence application is successful, your company will be placed on the list of registered sponsors and you will be permitted to assign Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) to qualifying candidates, enabling them to make their visa application to the Home Office.

Through the sponsor licence application process, the Home Office is looking for evidence that employers have a thorough understanding of their compliance duties under the sponsor licence and that they have requisite, effective internal HR and recruitment infrastructure and skills in place to comply with the rules on an ongoing basis.

We can help

DavidsonMorris’ business immigration specialists can support your organisation through the Home Office sponsorship licence application process.

As a team of immigration lawyers and former Home Office personnel, we can work in support of your in-house HR team or manage the entire application process on your behalf, across all types of sponsorship licence.

We understand the commercial pressures surrounding a licence application. Whether you have a candidate lined up and do not want to risk losing out through a delayed or refused licence application, or are starting out and are unsure about the process to follow, we can support:

  • Assisting with initial considerations as to the most appropriate type of sponsorship application and suitable key personnel
  • Drafting your online sponsor licence application
  • Helping you to collate the appropriate supporting documentation that you must submit
  • Auditing your HR and recruitment systems and procedures to get them in order before the UKVI visit
  • Briefing or training staff on their duties and responsibilities
  • Advising on the UKVI ‘genuineness’ test and assessing whether a prospective employee satisfies the points criteria before the sponsor issues a certificate of sponsorship
  • Guidance on sponsorship-related fees, both for the application and ongoing
  • Advice on conducting the Resident Labour Market Test
  • Training and advice on issuing Certificates of
  • Sponsorship and assigning SOC codes
  • Advising on the alternatives available to you if you decide not to make a sponsor licence application

Preparation will be critical. Before compiling the application, we can audit your internal HR and recruitment practices to identify areas of risk and non-compliance, and provide recommendations to rectify with implementation support and training.

We will then advise on completing the application form and the documents and evidence you will need to submit in support of your application.

We have specific expertise in complex matters such as where there are time pressures on the application or if you have already had an application refused.

Sponsor licence eligibility criteria

The Home Office will be looking at a number of key criteria when determining your suitability and eligibility for a UK sponsorship licence. There are no minimum or maximum requirements on the size of organisation that can apply, but in all cases you must satisfy the Home Office criteria.

You will need to prove you are a genuine organisation operating lawfully in the UK. 

You have to show you are aware of and capable of carrying out the visa sponsorship duties, with appropriate human resources and recruitment systems and practices in place.

>You must be offering genuine employment that meets the relevant skill level and appropriate rates of pay.

Checks will also be performed against your nominated key personnel to ensure they are honest, dependable and reliable.

How to avoid a refused sponsor licence application

Sponsor licence applications can be refused for many reasons.

Often, employers are unaware of the extent of the Home Office checks and evaluation of an applicant organisation, or of the commitment and resource needed on an ongoing basis to manage the licence and ensure continued compliance.

Applicants commonly risk a refused application where they fail to correctly apply the Resident Labour Market Test where required, if they fail to pass the genuineness test or a UKVI compliance audit, if they fail to comply with UKVI security standards or if they fail to engage with the Home Office or to respond to enquiries in a timely manner.

Before applying, it will be important to ensure all of these areas are in full compliance, or you risk a refused application and losing the application fee.

The application process itself involves completing an online licence application and submitting supporting documentation to meet the necessary evidentiary requirements. The supporting documentation must be as prescribed by the Home Office, and will be determined by a number of factors.

In most cases, you will need to provide at least four pieces of evidence in original form, or as a certified copy. Importantly, these must be supplied within five days of the initial application. Failure to submit all required documents may result in an application being delayed or rejected and further costs being incurred.

Following the receipt of the documents, your organisation may then be subject to a compliance visit from the Home Office to assess whether or not to grant the licence.

Your HR and recruitment processes will be scrutinised, and officials will expect to see proof of how you intend to meet your compliance duties. You will also be required to comply with the illegal working requirements that state that all non-EU employees are required to provide documentation that proves their right to work before being employed by a UK company. You must retain copies of this information.

Given what is at stake, employers should take early advice to support in compiling a thorough and comprehensive submission and ensure the organisation is geared to meeting the duties of a sponsor licence holder on a continued basis.

Sponsor licence holders can be subject to Home Office investigation at any stage and without notice, meaning at any one time, all records and processes must be in order to avoid punitive action such as a licence suspension. 

Sponsor licence application FAQs

Which type of sponsor licence?

When making your sponsoring licence application, you will need to specify which type of licence your organisation needs. If you intend to hire skilled workers on a long term basis, you would apply for the Tier 2 licence, whereas short term skilled roles would be the Tier 5 licence, or you can apply for a licence applicable for the two categories.

Which sponsor licence documents are required?

Appendix A details all mandatory documentation that sponsor licence applicants are to submit with their application. The list varies depending on the type of organisation that is applying and the type of licence being applied for. It most cases it is also advisable to provide additional evidence to support your eligibility.

How long does a sponsor licence last?

Sponsor licences are granted for a period of four years. They can be renewed by making an application to the Home Office. Sponsor licences can be downgraded, suspended or revoked if the employers fails to comply with its compliance duties and to manage the licence correctly.

How much is it to apply for a sponsor licence?

The application fee for medium or large sponsors is £1,476 and for small or charitable sponsors is £536. You will usually be classed as a small business if your annual turnover is £10.2 million or less and you have 50 employees or fewer.

How can DavidsonMorris help?

DavidsonMorris’ team of specialist business immigration lawyers are on hand to guide and support employers through the Home Office application process for a sponsorship licence. We can advise on eligibility, how to build a comprehensive and compelling submission and on the ongoing compliance & licence management duties your organisation will need to meet as an employer of visa workers.

Need advice?

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020 7494 0118

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