UK Home Office's Sponsor Licence Scheme: Pre-Licence Priority Service

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By Sanwar Ali:

The Sponsor Licence Scheme and the Improved Pre-Licence Priority Service: An In-Depth Review

The Sponsor Licence Scheme is a vital program that allows businesses to sponsor foreign workers to fill positions mainly under the Skilled Worker visa scheme. Over the last year the UK Home Office has improved the pre-licence priority service, a part of the scheme that fast-tracks applications. On 1 August 2022 the number of applications accepted under the scheme increased from 10 slots a working day to 30 slots a working day. On 21 June 2023 the pre-licence priority service can be applied for at the same time as applying for the sponsor licence. Previously, you had to send an email to request inclusion in this service, and if successful would be send a payment link to pay the £500 fee. This article provides a detailed review of the scheme and its improved priority service, highlighting their potential impact on businesses and foreign workers.

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There continues to serious skills shortages in many industries in the UK. For businesses in the UK, the Sponsor Licence Scheme provides a lifeline. It allows them to recruit foreigners, thereby filling in the gaps. However, the application process can be slow and tedious. But with the improved pre-licence priority service, faster processing becomes more accessible. Let's delve into the inner workings of this scheme.

Understanding the Sponsor Licence Scheme

The Sponsor Licence Scheme is an immigration program that allows UK businesses to sponsor overseas workers for work visas. These visas could be the Skilled Worker visa, the Temporary Work visa, among others.

The Pre-Licence Priority Service

The pre-licence priority service is an integral part of the Sponsor Licence Scheme. It offers businesses the chance to expedite their applications. Under normal circumstances, processing a sponsor licence application takes about eight weeks. But with the pre-licence priority service, this period can significantly reduce to 10 working days.

Benefits of the Pre-Licence Priority Service

The pre-licence priority service provides a faster route to securing a sponsor licence. This is beneficial for businesses in dire need of foreign talent. It minimises the disruption caused by vacant positions and usually reduces the time between applying for a licence and the migrant worker being approved.

Recent Changes to the Pre-Licence Priority Service

As of June 2023, the Home Office implemented changes to the pre-licence priority service. Now, organisations applying for a sponsor licence can request and pay for the priority service at the time of application. This streamlines the process, making it easier for both the applicant and the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).

Eligibility for the Pre-Licence Priority Service

The pre-licence priority service is available to first-time sponsors submitting a valid application for a sponsor licence. However, it's not available for certain routes, such as the Global Business Mobility Expansion Worker, Service Supplier, and Secondment Worker visas.

How to Request for Priority Service

Under the new system, applicants can request and pay for the priority service when submitting their online sponsor licence application. If an organisation has already submitted their application but wishes to upgrade it to the priority service, they can do so by logging back into their sponsor application account.

Cost of the Pre-Licence Priority Service

The pre-licence priority service costs an additional £500. This is on top of the regular application fee for a sponsor licence, which is either £536 or £1476, depending on the size of the applying organisation.

Tips to Avoid Processing Delays

While the pre-licence priority service promises faster processing, delays can still occur. To avoid this, businesses should submit a valid licence application, have their supporting documents ready, and submit a fully completed request to the priority service team during operating hours.


The Sponsor Licence Scheme and its pre-licence priority service offer businesses an opportunity to meet their workforce needs. While the improvements to the priority service make the process easier, the sponsor licence scheme still has its complexities.

How 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 sends e-mail)