If you are an employer approaching the Tier 2 sponsor licence application process for the first time, do you know which sponsor licence supporting documents will be required as part of your application?

15% of sponsor licence applications are refused. Common grounds for refusal, or delays, in applications relate to sponsor licence supporting documentation submitted by applicants failing to meet Home Office requirements.

What are the frequent issues with the sponsor licence supporting documents?

If you are applying for the first time for a Tier 2 sponsor licence for your organisation, or if you need to renew your licence, the application can only be made online.

The online form in itself asks for relatively straightforward detail about the organisation. It is seeking to establish that you are a legitimate entity and to understand the full nature of your operations.

The complications and errors usually arise when applicants collate and submit their sponsor licence supporting documents.

The supporting documentation must be sent to the Home Office in hard copy, paper form within five working days of your online application being made.

UKVI are stringent with the eligibility of supporting documents and likely to delay or refuse the application if a document is:

  • incomplete;
  • out of date;
  • not the original document or not a correctly certified copy where permitted; or
  • not provided within the specified time after the application is made (i.e. five working days).

With current processing times for securing a sponsor licence around three months, there is no margin for error in the application process.

If there are issues with your supporting documents, you may in response to your submission be asked by UKVI to supply further information or documentation.

Failure to respond to this request within the prescribed timeframe (generally seven working days) will result in application rejection and you will lose your application fee.

Alternatively, UVKI may, in light of questions around your supporting documents, arrange to come and visit your premises. Site inspections are used to find out more about your organisation, the ‘genuineness’ of the role being recruited for, and generally its capacity to satisfy the criteria and duties of a sponsor licence holder.

Home Office visits are daunting, and require a great deal of preparation to get the ‘house’ in order.

Home Office scrutiny is best avoided by compiling and submitting a comprehensive application across the form and supporting documents. Put simply, getting your application right first time is the best way to secure your sponsor licence. 

What are the requested sponsor licence supporting documents?

The full lists of the current sponsor licence supporting documents are available on the Home Office’s Appendix A- List of documents.

The lists of sponsor licence supporting documents are extensive, the requirements highly specific, and they vary depending on the type of organisation you are – eg charity, ‘start up’, public body etc.

Given the scope for error and the organisational importance of getting the application right first time, seeking professional advice can help you ensure you are collating the correct documentation for your organisation’s application.

Challenges for HR collating sponsor licence supporting documents

The reality of compiling the specific supporting documentation in its expected format is no mean feat. Depending on the size, age and location of the organisation, you may struggle to locate certain items, either in part or whole.


The most common difficulty is the time it takes to obtain the supporting documents.

You have only five working days after completing your online application to submit the required supporting documentation.

Mandatory documents however are not always the easiest for HR to collate, particularly when they are located within a different business department, such as finance.

This is where the communication and confusion begins, especially when the information required is found on two separate documents.

This is most common with proof of HMRC payroll registration and company tax documents.

For proof of HMRC payroll, UKVI want to see the reference numbers for both the PAYE and the accounts office.

Both reference numbers are found on the front cover of the employer payslip booklet and on the HMRC letter titled the New Employer Registration and Reference Numbers.

Depending on the age and size of the company, these documents may be archived and time consuming to obtain.

Therefore, it is likely to be quicker to obtain them from two separate documents such as a HMRC notification to file and the employer/employee filed return.

Certifying original documents

The next hurdle with collating the supporting documents is obtaining the original, and knowing when it is acceptable to certify a document. Take advice on when it is permissible to submit a certified copy, or when UKVI will expect an original.

Where certified documents can be submitted, it is important to get the certifying process right.

If documents require certification it is important to note that they must be certified in a certain way otherwise the entire licence application can be refused because the caseworker was unable to verify the certifier.

Certifying documents goes beyond making photocopies. UKVI only accept certified documents by a practising lawyer, a notary public or the issuing authority such as the bank.

Justify why you need a sponsor licence 

Your application will also require a submission that justifies why your organisation needs a sponsor licence to recruit from overseas. The government ultimately seeks to promote and encourage employers to hire from the ‘resident’ UK labour market. Your organisation needs to explain why you are looking to hire foreign workers instead.

In general, the questions you will need to answer are:

  • Is the role you are recruiting for genuine?
  • Why is the resident labour market unable to fill this role?

This will entail correct use of the Resident Labour Market Test as proof that you have exhausted options from the domestic workforce.

Do you have a question about sponsor licence supporting documentation?

DavidsonMorris are highly experienced in helping employers with sponsor licence applications and renewals.

We can manage the process on your behalf and deal with any questions you have relating to sponsor licence supporting documents to help you avoid delay or refusal of your application.

If you have any queries about sponsor licence processes or duties, contact one of our team.