A Step By Step Guide for Employers Wanting to Obtain a Sponsorship Licence

Immigration Sponsorship Licence for Employers

- By Teni Shahiean of OTS Solicitors

If you are put off employing foreign national workers because you fear the avalanche of red-tape that will come your way the second you download an application form, then this blog is for you.  Contrary to popular belief, applying for a Sponsorship Licence is relatively straight-forward, and many of the conditions the UK Border Agency (UKBA) places on granting the licences simply require you to be a responsible employer; by treating your workers fairly and making sure they abide by the terms of their visa.

It is a mandatory requirement that all employers who wish to recruit workers from outside the EEA must apply for a Sponsorship Licence from the UKBA.  If approved, your licence will be valid for four years.

To simplify the procedure of applying for a Sponsorship Licence, here is a step-by-step guide as to how to apply.  Remember, if you require clarification on any of these points, you can phone our office on 0207 936 9960.

Important Note: Being granted a Sponsorship Licence does not guarantee that an individual you recruit from outside the EEA will be granted a visa or that the position you wish to fill is one that can be filled by a foreign worker.  To find out more on this issue, please click here

Step One – Find out Whether you Meet the Eligibility Criteria Surrounding a Sponsorship Licence

To acquire a Sponsorship Licence, your organisation will be required to meet certain eligibility criteria.  These include:

  • you must show that you are a legitimate organisation working within the law of the United Kingdom.
  • there are no reasons to believe that you or any member of your staff are a threat to Immigration control.
  • your organisation is committed to fulfilling its sponsorship duties.
  • you must appoint a staff member or members, to fulfil the Immigration compliance roles that will become part of your business if a Sponsorship Licence is granted.  Note, these roles must be filled by suitable persons, who have the capacity, skills and experience to manage the compliance requirements properly.
  • Supply the Home Office and or UK Border Agency with any documents requested

Step 2 –Decide the Type of Sponsorship Licence you Want

There are two types of Sponsorship Licences available to employers who wish to employee foreign workers.  They are:

  • Tier 2 - skilled workers with long-term job offers
  • Tier 5 - skilled temporary workers

You can apply for a licence to cover either or both tiers if you wish.

Step 3 – Apply for the Sponsorship Licence

You can apply for a Sponsorship Licence online.  Once you have done this, you will need to print out the submission sheet and post it to:

Sponsor casework operations 
Sponsor applications team 
UK Visas and Immigration 
PO Box 3468 
S3 8WA 

You will need to send the submission sheet along with four supporting documents.  Some are mandatory, depending on the type of industry you operate in.  For example, if you are a franchise business, you must send a copy of your franchise agreement as one of the four supporting documents.  There are also mandatory documents that need to be supplied for certain types of visas.  A Tier 2 Minister of Religion Visa or a Tier 5 Religious Worker Visa requires employers seeking sponsorship approval to send information regarding the size of the congregation and the times and dates of religious worship.

Once you have collated this information, further documentation is likely to be required to make up four documents.  Examples of documents that will be accepted by the UKBA include:

  • evidence of employee liability cover of at least £5 million from an authorised insurer
  • a current Financial Report of Company Audit Report
  • proof of registration with HM Revenue and Customs Office
  • your lease agreement or proof of ownership of your business address

Step 3 – Keep Your A Rating

Once you have your Sponsorship Licence, you will automatically be given an A rating and may start assigning Certificates of Sponsorship.  However, if you fail to meet your sponsorship duties, you will be downgraded to a B-rating.  A downgrade will mean that your organisation will be unable to issue any more certificates of sponsorship until improvements are made and its A-rating is re-instated.

You can lose your Sponsorship Licence if you receive more than two B-ratings in four years.  The Home Office can and will make unannounced visits to check that your organisation is complying with its record keeping and reporting responsibilities.

When applying for a Sponsorship Licence, seeking experienced legal advice from the outset can save you both time and money (for example, you will not have to resubmit applications due to the first attempt being incorrect).  OTS Solicitors is one of the most well-respected Legal 500 employment and immigration law firms in London.  By making an appointment with one of our immigration solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available in the UK.

To make an appointment, please phone our London office on 0203 959 9123.



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