Tier 2 Sponsor Licence Application – How to apply

Section Menu

show hide


Tier 2 Sponsor Licence Guide is split into the following sections:

Coronavirus Sponsor Licence Update:

Due to the current situation documents can now be emailed to the Home Office for a Sponsor Licence application.  There is no need to send original or certified copies of documents.  We do not know how long this concession will last for.  Also in many cases Tier 2 visa applications that previously had to be made from abroad can due to current travel restrictions be made from within the UK.  This does not benefit people who come under the one year cooling off period requirement. 

For Tier 2 visa applicants who have applied for a visa before their visa expired and are waiting for a decision you can start work immediately for the employer.  This applies where the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) has been assigned and the job is the same as in the CoS.  This is a temporary measure due to the fact that you cannot obtain a Tier 2 visa while UK visa processing centres are closed.

Tier 2 Sponsor Licence Introduction

A UK based organisation that wishes to employ a non EU or EEA visa applicant in the UK on a Tier 2 visa must have a valid Tier 2 sponsor licence, but many Tier 2 sponsor licence applications are rejected every year due to errors – such as failing to provide the correct documentation and information required, or failing a site visit from Home Office officials – meaning lost working hours and repeat applications.  Employing someone on a Tier 2 visa is expensive, with various Government fees having to be paid.

In many cases if the application is refused you will not be able to apply for a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence again for the same company for six months if not longer. If the application is rejected because not all the necessary documents have not been provided you should be able to immediately apply for another Licence.  The alternatives to a Tier 2 visa with a UK employer Tier 2 Sponsor are somewhat limited, and in reality in most cases are not feasible.

Tier 2 General or Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer or both

There are two types of Tier 2 Sponsor Licences.  The Tier 2 General sponsor licence and Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer sponsor licence.  The employer can apply for both at the same time or apply for them at different times.  The advantage of the Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer sponsor licence compared to the Tier 2 General version, is that for companies with an oversea office wishing to transfer the employee to the UK it is frequently quicker.  There is no need to advertise the vacancy to show there is no one else able to do the job as frequently required under the Resident Labour Market Test.  You also do not need a Restricted CoS which delays processing of the Tier 2 General visa application. However, unlike the Tier 2 General visa category, the Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer visa does not usually lead to indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

In many cases to employ applicants on a Tier 2 General visa the employer also has to do a Resident Labour Market Test.  This is not necessary under the Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer visa scheme. In a number of cases it may be best to do the resident labour market test first before applying for a Tier 2 sponsor licence.  However, this is not strictly necessary.  In some cases to save time you may wish to apply for a Tier 2 sponsor licence immediately.  On 6 October 2019 ahead of Brexit (if it ever happens!) the number of occupations in the Shortage Occupation List was greatly expanded.  it is now easier for Engineers, IT staff, chefs, and more people in healthcare occupations to gain entry to the UK. 

Workpermit.com's team of visa experts can show you how to obtain a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence by meeting all the conditions of your Tier 2 Sponsor application first time.

Tier 2 Sponsor Licence Business Requirements

There is no requirement that the business in the UK needs to be at a particular size to apply for a Tier 2 sponsor licence, or that it should have been trading for any particular period of time. The business should be operational, and there should be someone resident in the UK and available, to deal with any queries from UK Visa and Immigration at the Home Office.

In practice the business would probably have say one or two or more people working in the business already.  While not strictly necessary it may be an idea to have a separate office for the business. There should be a genuine need for the Tier 2 visa employee. The employee sponsored as a Tier 2 visa employee cannot be a Level 1 User for the Sponsor Licence with the ability to assign Certificates of Sponsorship for Tier 2 visa employees. Sponsor Management Service users for the Tier 2 Sponsor Licence also cannot sponsor close relatives including their husband, wife, partner, brother, sister, father, mother, etc. 

Probably for very small businesses employing only one or two staff UK Visas and Immigration at the Home Office are more likely to visit you before granting a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence.  

Tier 2 Sponsor Licence Applications

In order to sponsor applicants, an employer will need to be on the register of licenced sponsors with UK Visas and Immigration. The Tier 2 Registration process can be quite difficult.  In many cases under the Tier 2 General visa scheme you will have to also do the resident labour market test. The employer will need to submit an online application and provide a number of documents via email, in order to apply for a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence, and must accept a considerable number of responsibilities as a Tier 2 Sponsor.  In addition, the employer should send a detailed covering letter probably several pages long to UK Visa with the documents to the Home Office answering various questions. UK Visa does not make it easy to find out which questions they want answered!

Tier 2 Sponsor Documentation Requirements

Due to the coronavirus situation, you can send copies of documents which can be sent via email within five working days of submitting the online application.  In many if not most cases employers make mistakes when submitting documents to UK Visa and Immigration.  The documentation requirements as stated n published UKVI guidelines are confusing and difficult to understand. Please see below details of typical documents required for a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence application.

Usually, you will need to have at least four of the following (accounts can be provided via a link to the Companies House site) to submit to the Home Office:

1) Lease or rental agreement for office premises.   All signatures should appear in this document.

2) Business bank statements. Perhaps over three months.  The letter from the UK bank should set out the dealings it has had with you, including the nature and duration of those dealings.

3) VAT and/or NI and PAYE registration document.   It may be possible to have documents certified if documents are online or enclosed as attachments in emails.

4) Latest Annual accounts.  It is usually acceptable just to have a link to the accounts on the Companies House site.

5) Employers liability insurance certificate (at least £5 million)

You need a minimum of four documents.   It may be possible to provide alternative documents in some cases. 

Tier 2 Certificate of Sponsorship

The Tier 2 sponsor will need to assign the applicant a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) before they can apply for leave to enter the UK, or remain in the UK, under a Tier 2 visa. The Certificate of Sponsorship is confirmation by the employer that they wish to employ a tier 2 visa migrant and that the employee will be paid at the salary as stated in the CoS.  The employer will meet their obligations under the tier 2 visa system.  It is easier if the employer wishes to employ someone currently based in the UK who is able to switch to a tier 2 visa from within the UK.  In most cases Tier 2 visa applicants who can apply from within the UK for a visa need an unrestricted CoS. If the Tier 2 visa applicants needs to apply for a visa from outside the UK, or if the applicant wishes to switch from a Tier 4 dependent visa to a Tier 2 visa, then the employer will need to apply for a Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship which is allocated on a quota system and is more difficult to obtain. Tier 2 visa applicants also need to make sure that they gain enough points under the tier 2 visa points system.

Sponsorship Duties

The Sponsor has a number of record keeping and reporting duties for the applicants that it sponsors.

1. Record Keeping Duties:

  • Copy of the identification page of the applicant's passport.

  • If the applicant had to apply for entry clearance to work for the employer, evidence of date of entry to the UK.

  • UK immigration status document if not in the passport

  • Copy of Migrants Biometric Residence Card

  • Migrant's contact details

  • Copy of the Migrant's National Insurance Number

2. Reporting Duties:

UK Visas and Immigration must be informed of the following:

  • If a sponsored migrant does not turn up for his or her first day of work

  • If a sponsored migrant is absent from work for more than 10 working days, without the sponsor's reasonably granted permission

  • If a sponsored migrant's period of employment has ended as a result of the migrant resigning or being dismissed

  • If any registration that the sponsored migrant needs to work in the UK (such as with a governing body) is ended

  • If the sponsor stops sponsoring the migrant for any other reason (eg if the migrant moves into another immigration route that does not require a sponsor)

  • If there are any significant changes in the migrant's circumstances (eg change of job or salary excluding annual pay rise)

  • If the Sponsor has any information which suggests that the migrant is breaching the conditions of his or her leave

  • If the Sponsor has any information which suggests that the migrant may be engaging in terrorism or other criminal activity (The Sponsor must also pass any such information to the Police).


Workpermit.com's team of UK visa experts can help with Tier 2 sponsor licence applications in the following ways:

  • A consultation to determine if a Tier 2 Sponsor application is the best choice for your business

  • Completing and checking your Tier 2 Sponsor licence application online form.

  • Where relevant advising and assisting with Resident Labour Market Test.  This includes drafting of adverts and compliance.
  • Managing and submitting all the appropriate supporting documents for your Tier 2 Sponsor application

  • Preparing a lengthy and detailed covering letter dealing with the additional information required 

  • Guidance on your employment and HR practices to make sure they comply with UK Visas and Immigration's Tier 2 Sponsor conditions

  • Advice on passing UK Visas and Immigration Tier 2 tests and site visits– both before and after your Tier 2 Sponsor application

Workpermit.com's team of specialists has over thirty years of experience in immigration services, and have helped thousands of people to study and work in the UK. We work with clients under Section 84 of the 1999 immigration act and can submit your UK Tier 2 sponsorship licence Application and visa application to UK Visas and Immigration at the Home Office. 

For more information and advice on UK immigration law and UK visa applications please contact us on 0344 991 9222 or at london@workpermit.com


Frequently Asked Questions: 

Should you apply for a Sponsor Licence?

If you are an employer and wish to employ skilled workers from outside the EU then it is likely you will need a Sponsor Licence.  You need to have a Sponsor Licence to employ Tier 2 visa migrants.  In addition, after the Brexit transitional period ends you will need a Sponsor Licence to employ newly arriving EU migrants as well.  For the new immigration points system, which the Government says will be put into place in 2021, they are encouraging employers to apply for a Sponsor Licence.

How long will it take to obtain a Sponsor Licence?

This will vary enormously.   However, in most cases the Sponsor Licence is granted within three or four weeks.  It seems in practice very small businesses with say one or two staff that do not have an office are more likely to be visited by the Home Office before a Sponsor Licence is granted, and so processing times in these cases is likely to be longer.

What are the basic requirements for a Sponsor Licence?

The requirements are quite minimal.  The business should already be trading in the UK.  You need to have at least one person already resident in the UK that can be trusted completely who will take on roles for the Sponsor Management System such as Level 1 User, Authorising Officer, and Key Contact.     Typical documents that are provided include proof of PAYE registration, employers liability insurance document, bank letter or statements and rent agreement.

Should I apply for a Tier 2 General Sponsor Licence or Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer Sponsor Licence?

If you wish to have the option of employing the Tier 2 visa applicant permanently on a long term basis it would probably be best to apply for a Tier 2 General Sponsor Licence.  The Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer visa does not usually lead to indefinite leave to remain, and the employee will not usually be able to be sponsored by a different Tier 2 Sponsor.  Unlike the Tier 2 General visa, where employees can in many cases apply for indefinite leave to remain at the end of five years in the UK. You do have the option of applying for both types of Sponsor Licence at the same time.