Navigating UK Sponsor Licence: Process and Compliance

Canary Wharf, London

Canary Wharf, London

Sanwar Ali,

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By Sanwar Ali:

Obtaining a sponsor licence is an essential step for UK businesses wishing to employ overseas nationals. In this blog post, we will provide an in-depth look at the sponsor licence application process, offering guidance on how to fulfil sponsorship duties effectively.

We will explore key aspects such as appointing personnel for managing your sponsor licence, submitting online applications, and document requirements. Additionally, we will discuss compliance requirements including record keeping responsibilities, minimum salary thresholds for sponsored employees, and cooperation during inspections.

Lastly, we will cover the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) process and Immigration Skills Charge applicable to certain visa categories. By understanding these crucial elements of sponsoring workers in the UK, businesses can ensure they adhere to immigration controls while supporting their global workforce needs.

Table of Contents:

UK Sponsor Licence Application Process

If you're a UK business looking to hire overseas nationals, in many cases you'll need to obtain a sponsor licence. The process involves two main steps:

  1. Online application submission: You'll need to draft and submit an online application, providing accurate information about your business or organization. During this process, it's essential to appoint UK resident key personnel for managing your sponsor licence.
  3. Supporting documentation: After submitting your online application, you'll need to send supporting documentation via email in PDF format to the Home Office. Ensure that all required documents are submitted within five working days as per Home Office guidelines.

Key personnel roles include Authorising Officer (AO), Key Contact (KC), and Level 1 User(s). These individuals will be responsible for overseeing your sponsorship activities and ensuring compliance with immigration regulations.

If you require a quicker decision on your application, consider using the priority service option for faster processing at an additional fee of £500. This reduces standard consideration time from eight weeks down to ten working days.

Maintaining up-to-date records and staying compliant with regulatory requirements is crucial throughout the lifetime of your UK sponsor licence. Failure to comply with sponsor licence duties can result in the revocation of your licence and other penalties.

It is important to understand the UK Sponsor Licence Application Process thoroughly in order to ensure successful compliance and sponsorship of staff. To further enhance understanding, it is essential to review the Compliance Requirements for Sponsors that must be met by sponsors.

Compliance Requirements for Sponsors

When applying for a sponsor licence, sponsors must adhere to certain compliance requirements. One of the primary responsibilities is record-keeping. Sponsors need to maintain records relating to their sponsored workers and their right-to-work documentation in the UK. This includes copies of passports, biometric residence permits, and employment contracts. Regularly updating these records ensures that your organisation remains compliant with immigration regulations.

Sponsored employees should also be paid above a specific minimum salary threshold, which varies depending on the job role and visa category. The Home Office provides a detailed list of eligible occupations and minimum salary thresholds.

In addition, maintaining a sponsor licence requires ongoing cooperation during inspections conducted by authorities such as Immigration Enforcement officials. These visits help ensure that businesses are complying with all relevant rules and regulations related to sponsoring foreign workers.

It is essential for sponsors to understand the compliance requirements in order to maintain their licence and avoid penalties.

Certificate of Sponsorship & Immigration Skills Charge

When hiring international talent, employers must issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to prospective sponsored workers. During the sponsor licence application process, companies need to specify how many undefined CoSs they initially require for their business needs. Once granted, these certificates serve as an essential component in the worker's visa application.  More CoS’s can be asked for at a later date.

In addition to providing CoSs, sponsoring employers are also responsible for paying the Immigration Skills Charge. This fee applies to certain visa categories such as Skilled Worker visas. The charge helps fund apprenticeship programs within Britain, creating opportunities for local workers through foreign investment.

  • Requesting Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS): Sponsors should estimate their required number of undefined CoSs during the sponsor licence application process.
  • Visa categories subject to the Immigration Skills Charge: This fee is applicable mainly for Skilled Worker visa applicants.

FAQs in Relation to Sponsor Licence

What is a sponsor licence?

A sponsor licence is a permission granted by the UK Home Office to employers, allowing them to hire non-resident skilled workers.

What is written on a certificate of sponsorship?

Once assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) contains details about the sponsored employee, such as their personal information, job title, salary, working hours, and start date. It also includes a unique reference number required for visa application purposes.

What is required to sponsor an employee?

To sponsor an employee in the UK, you must have a valid sponsor licence; offer genuine employment that meets minimum salary thresholds; assign a CoS with relevant details; pay Immigration Skills Charge if applicable; ensure compliance with record-keeping responsibilities and cooperate during inspections.

What documents are needed for sponsorship?

Documents needed typically include employers liability insurance, bank statements, accounts, VAT certificate, etc.  Specific document requirements vary depending on your organization's size and sector.


In summary, obtaining a UK sponsor licence involves appointing key personnel, submitting an online application with necessary documents, and potentially applying for the priority service. Compliance requirements include record-keeping responsibilities, minimum salary thresholds, and cooperation during inspections. Additionally, sponsors must request Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS). can help with Sponsor Licences

If you need help with employing Skilled Workers and help to apply for a Sponsor Licence, including complying with your Sponsor Licence obligations, can help.

For more information and advice please contact us on 0344 991 9222 or at