Applying for a Sponsor Licence in the UK


If you are a business or organization looking to employ foreign workers in the United Kingdom, you will likely need to obtain a Sponsor Licence. This licence allows you to legally employ non UK, non-EEA (European Economic Area) and non-Swiss nationals. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the process of applying for a Sponsor Licence in the UK.

What is a Sponsor Licence?

A Sponsor Licence is an authorization issued by the UK Home Office that permits employers to employ foreign workers legally. It is a vital document for businesses or organizations seeking to hire skilled workers from outside the UK, EEA or Switzerland. Find out more here.

There are three main categories under which you can apply for a Sponsor Licence:

Tier 2 (General): This category covers skilled workers with a job offer in the UK. Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer): For employees of multinational companies transferring to a UK branch. Tier 5 (Temporary Workers): This category includes various subcategories such as creative and sporting workers, charity workers, religious workers, and international agreements workers.

The Step-by-Step process of applying for a Sponsor Licence

Step 1: Determine Your Eligibility

Before you begin the application process, it's crucial to ensure your organization meets the eligibility criteria. Typically, you must:

  • Be a legitimate and operating business or organization in the UK.
  • Have a genuine need for foreign workers.
  • Have suitable HR and recruitment processes in place.

Step 2: Choose the Appropriate Tier

Select the tier that best suits your organization's needs. Consider the type of workers you intend to sponsor, as each tier has specific requirements and restrictions.

At Borderless, we have had many successful Sponsor Licence applications for companies looking to hire under the Skilled Worker Visa and Health and Care Worker Visa routes.

Step 3: Prepare Necessary Documentation

You will need to gather essential documents to support your application. This typically includes:

  • Business registration documents.
  • Proof of your organization's finances.
  • HR processes and policies.
  • A description of your business activities.
  • A list of the key personnel who will manage the sponsorship.

Step 4: Register on the Sponsorship Management System (SMS)

To apply for a Sponsor Licence, you must register on the Sponsorship Management System (SMS). This is the online portal used for managing sponsor licences. You'll need to provide information about your organization and pay the requisite fee. Find out more about the Sponsor Licence fee here.

Step 5: Complete the Online Application

Once registered on the SMS, you can complete the online application form. You'll need to provide detailed information about your organization, your chosen tier, and the reasons for needing a Sponsor Licence.

Step 6: Assign Key Personnel

As part of the application, you must assign specific individuals within your organization to be responsible for various aspects of the sponsorship. This includes a Sponsor Representative, Key Contact, and Authorizing Officer. These individuals will have specific responsibilities in managing your sponsorship duties.

Step 7: Submit Supporting Documents

Upload all the necessary supporting documents and evidence required for your application. Make sure all documentation is accurate, up-to-date, and in the correct format.

Step 8: Pay the Application Fee

Pay the application fee for your chosen tier. The fee amount may vary depending on your organization's size and the type of sponsorship you are applying for.

Step 9: Compliance with Sponsorship Duties

Understand and commit to the sponsorship duties, including reporting changes and maintaining proper records. You must also comply with immigration rules and regulations regarding the employment of foreign workers.

Step 10: Await a Decision

The Home Office will review your application and may conduct an audit or site visit to assess your organization's compliance with sponsorship requirements. The processing time can vary, but you should receive a decision within several weeks to a few months.

You may be able to request for an expedited processing time, subject to an additional fee of £500. If a request for Priority Service is successful, the sponsor licence application will typically be decided within just 10 working days.

Step 11: Receive Your Sponsor Licence

If your application is approved, you will be granted a Sponsor Licence. You will receive a Certificate of Sponsorship (COS) allocation for Tier 2 and Tier 5 applications, which is necessary for sponsoring individual workers.

Step 12: Maintain Compliance: Responsibilities After Obtaining a Sponsor Licence Congratulations! You've obtained a Sponsor Licence. However, your responsibilities don't end here:

  • Record-Keeping: Maintain thorough records of all sponsored employees, including their contact details and visa status.
  • Compliance Monitoring: Continuously monitor and ensure that sponsored employees comply with UK immigration laws.
  • Reporting: Report any significant changes or issues with sponsored employees to the Home Office.
  • Renewal: Sponsor Licences are usually valid for four years. Ensure that you renew your licence before it expires.

Obtaining a Sponsor Licence in the UK is a meticulous process that requires careful attention to detail and compliance with immigration rules. Once you have your Sponsor Licence, you can legally employ foreign workers, contributing to your organization's growth and diversity. It's essential to stay informed about any updates or changes in immigration policies to maintain your sponsorship status and ensure a smooth process for your employees.

How Can Borderless Help You?

We can help your company, big or small, to attain a Sponsor Licence so you may source valuable talent without restrictions and all the faff - hire the Borderless way! 🚀

To date, we have a 100% success rate for Sponsor Licence applications and we strive to make sure that every client/company that use our services are compliant with the Home Office regulations for sponsors in the UK.

🌍 Unlock a world of talent today! 🌍

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