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FAQ sponsor licence UK immigration

Frequently Asked Questions About The UK Sponsor Licence

Nov 30, 2020
Last Updated on May 21, 2024

Confused by the UK visa sponsor licence process? You’re not alone. Every day, we hear lots of questions from concerned applicants looking for information about the sponsor licence application process.

Becoming a UK visa sponsor is one of the best ways to access the world labour market. You will be able to sponsor workers on Points-Based System visas to live and work in the UK. After five years on a Skilled Worker visa, they will be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.

As an employer, you can play an important role in making a worker’s dreams come true. You can also close skills gaps in your organisation and access the workforce you need to drive your business forward.

Before you can do all of this, you need a UK visa sponsor licence. Here are some of the most common questions you might have throughout the application process.

1. Why was my UK Worker Sponsor Licence application refused?

There can be numerous reasons for the refusal of your sponsor licence by the Home Office.

However, some of the most common reasons for refusal are:

  • You submitted incorrect documents
  • You failed to show the need for a Sponsor Licence
  • You have insufficient HR practices

Before submitting an application to become a UK visa sponsor, review all of the guidelines and make sure you understand the requirements of UK visa sponsors. This will help you to prepare a strong application. If you have any doubts about the application process, always consult with a professional.

Do you have a way to calculate the sponsor licence UK cost?

Yes! Use our calculator below to calculate your sponsor licence visa cost.

Please answer the questions and you will be able to calculate the approx cost for The sponsor licence –

2. What are the categories of UK Worker Sponsor Licence?

The Worker Licence is divided into four different categories:

  • Skilled Worker
  • Senior or Specialist Worker
  • International sportsperson
  • Minister of Religion

The Temporary Worker License has 11 different categories:

  • Scale-up Worker
  • Creative Worker
  • Charity Worker
  • Religious Worker
  • Government Authorised Exchange
  • International Agreement
  • Graduate Trainee (Global Business Mobility)
  • Service Supplier (Global Business Mobility)
  • UK Expansion Worker (Global Business Mobility)
  • Secondment Worker (Global Business Mobility)
  • Seasonal Worker

Make sure you apply for the correct licence, as this can lead to your application being rejected if your hiring plans include workers that would require a different visa category.

3. How can a UK startup hire non-UK nationals?

Your company will need to apply for a Worker Sponsor Licence to be able to hire overseas staff. You will need to show that your business is trading in the UK and has a genuine need for skilled positions.

You will need to provide evidence that you are a genuine organisation in the UK. Some acceptable documents include:

  • Business bank statement (mandatory for Start-ups)
  • VAT certificate
  • HMRC letter showing PAYE reference number and accounts office reference
  • Employer’s liability insurance certificate, at £ 5 million minimum coverage
  • Lease agreement or evidence of ownership of your premises
  • Organisation chart

You will also require a letter from your company confirming why you need a Sponsor Licence.

Once you have gathered your supporting documents, you will be in a position to submit your online application form and pay the fee for the sponsor licence.

4. How much is the fee for a UK Worker Sponsor Licence?

The fees to obtain a sponsor licence are determined by the size of your organisation. It is split into small and charitable organisations, and medium to large organisations. 

The fees for a small or charitable sponsor are as follows:

  • To apply for a Worker and Temporary Worker sponsor licence simultaneously, you will pay £536.
  • If you apply to add a Worker licence to an existing Temporary Worker licence, there is no fee.
  • If you apply to add a Temporary Worker licence to an existing Worker licence, there is no fee.

The fees for a medium or large sponsor are as follows:

  • To get a Worker and Temporary Worker sponsor licence, you will pay £1,476.
  • To get a Worker licence, you will pay £1,476.
  • To get a Temporary Worker licence, you will pay £536.
  • If you apply to add a Worker licence to an existing Temporary Worker licence, you will have to pay £940.
  • If you apply to add a Temporary Worker licence to an existing Worker licence, there is no fee.

5. What is the Register of Licensed Sponsors: Workers?

The “Register of licensed sponsors: Workers” is a list of UK organisations and businesses who have been approved as Sponsors by the Home Office, under the Worker and Temporary Worker categories.

When your Licence is approved your name will appear in the list as an approved Sponsor.

On the register, you can find the following details –

  • Name of the company
  • Location of the company
  • Category of Worker Visa, which a company can sponsor
  • The sponsor’s rating

This list can help candidates to decide if their offer of employment is genuine. 

6. Where can I find the sponsor licence number?

A Sponsor Licence number is a unique reference number or code which is assigned to a Sponsor licence-holding employer. If you are a Worker or Temporary worker, you can check your company’s Sponsor Licence number on your Certificate of Sponsorship. This information is not held on the Register of License Sponsors, so you will need to confirm this number with your employer.

7. How long does a sponsor licence last?

The Sponsor Licence is valid for 4 years from the date of approval. The Sponsor can apply to renew their licence if they would like to continue to sponsor migrant workers. If, at the end of the four-year period, they are still employing overseas workers, they will have to renew their visa sponsor licence or terminate the employment contracts for those workers.

8. Why is it so important to have a sponsor licence?

From 1 January 2021, employers wanting to sponsor EEA and Swiss nationals to work in the UK will need a Sponsor Licence. The same applies if you wish to sponsor NON-EEA nationals.

If you are hiring EEA workers who already have settled status in the UK, you will not need a sponsor licence. However, it is important to carry out Right To Work checks, as this can lead to a civil penalty.

9. How does a sponsor renew their sponsor licence?

You will need access to your Sponsor Management System (SMS). You will then need to access the relevant section “Renew your Sponsor Licence” and pay the relevant fee depending on the size of your organisation. If you initially applied as a small or charitable organisation and your company has grown or changed structure in this time, you may need to update your details and pay the renewal fee in the higher fee structure. 

When renewing the Sponsor Licence you should also have had an internal audit on your HR systems, to ensure you continue to meet the duties as a Sponsor. This will assist you in the event you were to be visited by a Compliance Officer following the renewal of your Sponsor Licence.

To know more about the renewal of a sponsor licence, check Tier 2 Sponsor Licence Renewal.

10. How much does it cost to sponsor a Worker visa?

As above, applying for Sponsor Licence costs between £536 and £1,476, depending on the size of your organisation. In addition to this initial upfront fee, you will also pay a fee for every worker you wish to hire. This includes: 

  • Certificate of Sponsorship Assignment for a Worker – £239
  • Certificate of Sponsorship Assignment for a Temporary Worker – £25

You will also need to pay the Immigration Skills Charge (Skilled Workers and Intra-Company Transfers):

  • For a small or charitable sponsor, the Immigration Skills Charge is £364 for the first year and £182 for each additional six months. So the cost of sponsoring someone for five years would be £1,820.
  • For a medium or large sponsor, the charge is £1,000 for the first year and £500 for each additional six months. The cost of sponsoring someone for five years would be £5,000.

Visa application fees would also be payable by the employee. This will include the visa application fee and the immigration health surcharge. They will also have the option to pay to receive a faster decision. 

11. Which UK companies are able to sponsor a Worker Visa?

You will find a list of all organisations that hold a Sponsor Licence on the Register of Licenced Sponsors: Workers. Some businesses that are actually licensed to sponsor migrants may not be discoverable by a search of the register. For example, if they are registered as a subsidiary or branch of another firm, which is the licence holder. It is worth contacting the company directly to find out if they are able to sponsor migrant workers.

An example of some notable UK sponsors are Shell, TPP, UK Power Networks, EY, Deloitte, KPMG, PwC, BDO, Airbus, Atkins, BAE Systems, Mott MacDonald, National Grid, and Network Rail.


Still have questions about the UK Sponsor Licence process for employers or employees? Reach out to our team today to learn how we can help. We’re experts in immigration matters related to work and employment. We’ll help you to understand your options and choose the right path towards living, working or studying in the UK. Contact A Y & J Solicitors today.

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