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Are you wondering what visa sponsorship is and who can sponsor you in the UK

Are you wondering what visa sponsorship is and who can sponsor you in the UK?

Jun 11, 2024
Last Updated on Jun 13, 2024

UK is the most sought-after destination for professional opportunities. The UK offers various visa routes for those looking to take up employment. Here’s a snapshot that showcases the surges in work visas by the year-end June 2023

  • 45% higher grants than the previous year’s applicants on all work visas 
  • 34% rise in ‘Skilled Worker’ visa grants to applicants compared to last year 
  • The number of successful Skilled Worker – Health and Care work visas as increased by more than two and a half times for the previous year. 

This article answers your questions such as what is visa sponsorship? What does it mean to be sponsored by an employer? Who can sponsor you in the UK? With this, you’ll be able to map out your journey in the UK, save valuable time, and find out the right visa type for you. 

What is Visa Sponsorship? 

Visa sponsorship involves an employer sponsoring a foreign migrant to work in the UK. helps employers hire foreign workers in the UK. This allows the employer to seek expertise from a global labour force and to bridge the skill gap in their workforce. 

Employers who want to hire a skilled foreign national, must first acquire a sponsor licence. Once they hold the licence, they can start applying for certificates of sponsorship for their prospective employees. There is no flow to this, and it is not entirely correct. To be successful in a skilled worker application, migrants will need the following: 

  • Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) 
  • Maintenance funds (if sponsor has not certified maintenance on the CoS) 
  • Criminal records certificate (if applicable to job role) 
  • English language proficiency 
  • Obtaining particular points based on salary, sponsorship, and skills 

Similarly, employers must comply with sponsorship obligations in the UK, informing the Home Office of any changes in employment status, and maintaining the record of the sponsored employees.  

Certificate of Sponsorship 

It is an electronic document with a unique number for the employee to apply for a visa. When a sponsor is satisfied the migrant meets the job description and is a right fit for the role, then a certificate of sponsorship can be issued. 

A certificate of sponsorship is approved in one working day if you are applying for CoS inside the UK. However, it might take longer if the Home Office needs more details about the worker’s application. 

What requirements can an employer meet to be eligible for a sponsor license? 

To get a licence to sponsor employees from overseas, businesses must demonstrate they meet the criteria as per Appendix A of the sponsor licence guidance. Below are the requirements which include:  

  • No criminal conviction for immigration offences or other crimes like money laundering or fraud. 
  • No revocation of sponsor licence in the last 12 months. 
  •  Prove that none of the local nationals can fill the vacancy by taking the resident labour market test  
  • Have robust HR monitoring system in place 
  • Meet the minimum salary threshold and for foreign workers. 

What are the different types of sponsor licences? 

Obtaining the correct licence is important to ensure the migrant is employed with the correct visa. 

Worker sponsor licence 

A worker sponsor licence enables a business to employ skilled and long-term workers from overseas. This licence has different subcategories: 

  • Skilled Worker Visa: It provides skilled workers an opportunity to work in the UK 
  • Global Business Mobility: It allows companies operating globally to transfer workers from another location to the UK. 
  • Minister of Religion: This enables religious institutions to hire migrant workers. 
  • International Sportsmen: This permits athletes and elite coaches to work in the UK. 

Temporary worker licence 

Temporary worker licences help employers hire workers from outside the UK temporarily. It is also further segregated into different categories: 

  • Scale-up worker: It addresses the needs of fast-growing businesses, such as startups, to help them grow faster. 
  • UK expansion worker: This visa route is for overseas business expansion into the UK, including subsidiaries and new branches. 
  • Government-authorised exchange: This exchange program especially benefits those who come to the UK for work experience. 
  • Graduate trainee: This facilitates the employee transfer on a graduate training scheme to their businesses in the UK. 

Who can sponsor you in the UK? 

  • Companies based in the UK that hold sponsorship licenses can sponsor you for particular positions. 
  • You can be sponsored by educational establishments such as colleges and universities for student or academic staff roles. 
  • Government departments and agencies might sponsor individuals to fill positions necessary to carry out government services. 
  •  If an organization meets the sponsorship requirements and can demonstrate a valid need to bring people, the Home Office will accept sponsor licenses for non-traditional employers, such as research institutes, charities, or other organizations. 

Self-Sponsorship Visa Route 

The self-sponsorship visa route helps candidates establish their company in the United Kingdom. This visa route is the most helpful as it gives you the most freedom and authority in business operations. Businessmen planning to settle in the UK with their dependents can apply for British citizenship. 

It is a gateway to growth for businesses looking to expand in the UK with the capital to invest. You should take this path if you have identified a business opportunity concept and want to explore it. 


  • Pass an English language test at level B1. 
  • Have the financial support for their intended business. 
  • Have a business idea or identify an expansion plan for an existing business. 
  • Have qualifications or talent in the field where you intend to begin a business. 
  • There is no need for a lowest or highest investment for your business venture. It ranges from £25,000 or more, depending on business requirements. 
  • To assume the authorising officer’s obligations, they must be acquainted with a resident settled in the country or be British citizens. 


How can I apply for a UK work visa? 

Identify the right work visa to complete the online application available on the UK Government’s official website. First, you need a job offer from a licensed sponsor (if applicable), and gather all required documents, including proof of English language proficiency, financial support, etc. 

How much does the UK work visa cost? 

The fees will change according to the visa type, stay duration, and if you apply for it inside or outside the UK. For instance, Skilled Worker visas can cost from £719 to £1,639 for applications made outside the UK, depending on the job type. Ensure you regularly check the official UK Government website for the current fee structure. 

Can I sponsor my friend to the UK? 

You can only sponsor a friend for employment purposes if you are an employer who holds a sponsorship license. If your friend wants to work in the UK, they need to find employment with a UK-based company willing to sponsor them.  

If your friend wants to visit the UK for tourism or other purposes, you can provide support and accommodation, but you cannot officially sponsor them like an employer. 

How long does it take to process a UK work visa application? 

Processing times vary considerably depending on the visa type, individual circumstances, and application volume. Usually, work visa applications from outside the UK are processed within three weeks. Also, it might take longer during peak times if the Home Office needs additional information. You can also expedite the process in certain visa categories for an extra fee. 

Can I bring my family with me on a UK work visa? 

Yes, most UK work visas allow you to bring dependents, including your spouse, partner, and children under 18. Each dependent must apply separately, and you must show you have the financial means to support them during their stay. 

Can I switch from another visa to a work visa while in the UK? 

You can switch to another visa to a work visa without leaving the UK, given you meet the specific visa eligibility and have not entered the UK on a short-term student visa or visitor visa. Also, check your current visa type permits switching it. 

Can I extend your UK work visa? 

Yes, you can, as several work visas can be extended, provided you meet the eligibility requirements. These include having a job offer from a licensed sponsor and proving your English language proficiency. The conditions and extension process vary by visa category. 

What happens if my work visa application is rejected? 

You will receive the reason why your application is rejected through a letter explaining the decision. You can apply for an administrative review if you believe there was a mistake in processing your application. Correctly replying with information or additional documents is at times necessary. 

Final Words 

You can always take legal assistance when moving forward. An immigration firm can help ensure that you meet the Home Office criteria of salary requirement for the visa application and other pieces of evidence. It will considerably improve the possibility of a favourable decision and realising your dream to work in the UK. 

A Y & J Solicitors is an immigration law firm which specialises in work visa applications. We understand the immigration laws and are result-focused professionals. You can connect with us at +44 20 7404 7933 today for assistance with your visa application or any other UK immigration law concerns. We’re here to help! 

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A Y & J Solicitors

A Y & J Solicitors is a multi-award winning, 14+ years experienced, recommended by Legal 500, boutique UK immigration law firm based in Central London. Having assisted 5000+ clients, we are well equipped to help you with our ‘In It To Win It’ approach. For your assurance and confidence, we are pleased to share our trust rating of 4.9/5 based on 1000+ reviews on Trustpilot & Google.

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