Sponsor Licence Application Guide

14th April 2023

Everything you need to know before applying for a sponsor licence

Do you require a sponsor licence?

The lack of skilled workers in the UK is evident. However, the opportunity to explore creative ideas, bring in top expertise, and expand your company can be realised by having a sponsor licence.

If a UK business wishes to hire skilled overseas workers it must first obtain a sponsor licence as a UK business. It is unlawful to employ an individual who does not have the required right to work in the UK and this could result in a fine or, in more serious cases, a prison sentence.

Anybody can apply for a sponsor licence but completing it without expert support can be a risk as there is little margin for error. With the Home Office becoming progressively focused on compliance, it is important that you have a team like us on your side when applying for and managing a UKVI sponsor licence. We can take care of the entire process, from application to sponsoring your workers.

Are you eligible for a sponsor licence?

In order to be eligible for a sponsor licence, you must be a genuine UK business. 

Before applying for a licence, you must ensure that you as the employer do not have unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences or other crimes such as fraud. 

You must also not have had a sponsor licence revoked in the last 12 months. 

The Home Office will assess your eligibility for a sponsor licence and may, if necessary, conduct additional checks such as a pre-licence audit.   

Application Process

The sponsor licence application process requires that you fill in an online form. This form requires information such as, your registered and trading addresses, the number of employees you have and details of key personnel. 

Within the application, you will need to provide the details of the person within your business who will be the Authorising Officer for the sponsor licence. This person will be responsible for the day to day running of your sponsor licence. The Authorising Officer will need to be a senior employee within the business. 

While requesting a sponsor licence, the Home Office will assess the following:

  • The company is operating legally in the UK – for example, if you are required to be accredited by a governing body, you must provide evidence of registration. 
  • All sponsorship tasks and duties can be managed via your HR system.
  • Your company offers genuine jobs that are in line with skill requirements and UKVI  minimum salary requirements.
  • You and your company have no criminal convictions or outstanding illegal working civil penalties.
Documents you must  provide in your sponsor licence application: 

As a part of the application process, in most cases, you will need to provide at least 4 documents to support your submission but the more you provide the better. Here are some examples of the types of documents which can be accepted:

  • Latest business bank statement 
  • Employer’s Liability Insurance 
  • PAYE Registration 
  • VAT Registration (if applicable) 
  • Latest completed CT600 and CT603 Notice 
  • Proof of ownership or lease of the business premises

When making a skilled worker sponsor licence application, in addition to the supporting documents, you must also provide a supporting letter. This letter should include (but is not restricted to):

  • An explanation as to why your business requires a sponsor licence
  • The sector your organisation operates in
  • Job description and salary for the roles you intend to sponsor workers in 
  • Organisational chart and list of current employees alongside with their job roles 
  • Proof of governing body registration (where required) 
  • Operating hours
Submission Process

Once your application form is completed, you can submit the application and make the payment. The sponsor licence fee is £536 for small businesses and £1,476 for medium and large businesses.

After the online form has been submitted, you will be provided with a submission sheet that you will need to completed.The required documents, along with the supporting letter and submission sheet, will need to be sent to the Home Office separately via email to complete your application submission. 

You must ensure that you continue to have access to the email address that is registered with the application in case any additional information is requested from you and for news of the decision.

You can expect the whole sponsor licence process to take approximately 10 weeks to complete. This includes the time it takes to complete the online application form and gather the relevant supporting documents.
The Home Office standard processing time for sponsor licence applications is currently 8 weeks.

You can pay an additional fee (currently £500) directly to the Home Office to benefit from their Priority Service which guarantees a decision within 10 working days.

If you are unable to provide the necessary documentation for a licence application, there is a risk of rejection.

If your Sponsor Licence application has been rejected because you failed to provide the necessary supporting documents, you will usually be refunded the application fee and can make a new application as soon as you have all of the required documents.

If your application has been refused, this is likely due to more substantial issues, such as not meeting the eligibility requirements. In this case, you will not normally receive a refund of the fee and may be subject to a ‘cooling-off period’ which means that you will not be able to re-apply for 6 to 12 months. 

A sponsor licence is valid for 4 years. The licence doesn’t renew automatically, and you must make a renewal application before it runs out.

You must make the renewal application via the SMS system and pay the relevant fee – £536 for a small business and £1,476 for medium and large businesses.

Sign up to stay up to date, with news and advice