UK Sponsor Licences: Types, Eligibility, and Application Process

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By Sanwar Ali:

In the UK, organisations seeking to hire skilled foreign nationals must in many cases obtain a UK sponsor licence. This licence authorises them to sponsor non-British workers, enabling their employment in the UK. There are two types of sponsor licences: Worker and Temporary Worker, each covering a range of work visas. This guide aims to provide an in-depth understanding of UK sponsor licences, their types, eligibility, costs, and application procedures.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Types of UK Sponsor Licences
  3. Worker Licence
  4. Temporary Worker Licence
  5. Eligibility Criteria for Sponsor Licences
  6. Costs Associated with Sponsor Licences
  7. Application Procedure for Obtaining a Sponsor Licence
  8. Conclusion


A UK sponsor licence is a mandatory requirement for organisations that need to sponsor skilled foreign nationals. There are two major types of sponsor licences: Worker and Temporary Worker. The Worker licence is aimed at sponsoring skilled individuals for long-term or permanent roles. The Temporary Worker licence, on the other hand, is for specific temporary employment scenarios.

The Worker licence covers various categories including the Skilled Worker visa, GBM Senior or Specialist Worker visa, Minister of Religion, and International Sportsperson visa. The Temporary Worker licence also encompasses various visas such as the Scale-up Worker, Creative Worker, Charity Worker, Religious Worker, and Government Authorised Exchange visas.

Types of UK Sponsor Licences

Let's delve into each type of sponsor licence and the subcategories they encompass:

Worker Licence

A Worker licence allows organisations to sponsor skilled workers who are either based overseas or already residing within the UK. This licence comprises the following categories:

  1. Skilled Worker visa: This visa is the most common type that employers sponsor. It's aimed at skilled workers who are coming to the UK to work in a job that meets specific criteria.
  2. GBM Senior or Specialist Worker visa: Previously known as the Intra-company Transfer visa, this visa is for multinational companies which need to transfer established employees to the UK.
  3. Minister of Religion visa: This visa is for individuals coming to work for a religious organisation.
  4. International Sportsperson visa: This visa is for elite sportspeople and coaches who will be based in the UK.

Temporary Worker Licence

A Temporary Worker licence allows organisations to sponsor people on a temporary basis, including for volunteering and job shadowing. This licence includes the following categories: Scale-up Worker - Designed for individuals who will be joining a fast-growing company in the United Kingdom.

  1. Creative Worker - Suitable for roles such as artists, entertainers, or other professionals in the creative arts sector, with an option to stay for up to two years.
  2. Charity Worker - Geared towards volunteers working without pay at UK-based charitable organizations, and permitted to stay for a duration of up to one year.
  3. Religious Worker - Meant for individuals serving in religious organizations or orders, with a visa term lasting up to two years.
  4. Government Authorised Exchange - Ideal for those engaged in work experiences, research projects, or specialized training like medical or scientific training, with options for a one or two-year stay.
  5. International Agreement - Intended for employees whose job roles covered by international law, such as diplomatic staff or intergovernmental agency employees.
  6. Graduate Trainee (Global Business Mobility) - For those transferring to a UK branch of their current employer as part of a graduate-level training scheme.
  7. Service Supplier (Global Business Mobility) - Targeted at contractual employees providing specialized services to a UK company, with contract lengths of either 6 or 12 months.
  8. UK Expansion Worker (Global Business Mobility) - Suited for employees being deployed to the UK to inaugurate a new branch or subsidiary for a foreign business.
  9. Secondment Worker (Global Business Mobility) - Designed for workers moving from an overseas branch to work for a separate UK enterprise as part of a valuable contract.
  10. Seasonal Worker - Applicable to those looking to work seasonally in agriculture, like horticulture for up to six months (frequently picking fruit and vegetables), or in poultry farming between October 18 and December 31.

For each type of sponsor licence, it's essential to understand who it's aimed at, the length of the visa, eligibility requirements, costs, and the path to settlement if applicable.

Eligibility Criteria for Sponsor Licences

Acquiring a UK sponsor licence involves meeting certain eligibility and suitability criteria. Please note that the information below is general guidance. The actual requirements may vary considerably depending on the situation and the type of sponsor licence. Here are some of the requirements:

  1. In many cases the organisation should be genuine and operating lawfully in the UK: The organisation should show evidence of its lawful operation. Please note that for an Expansion Worker sponsor licence the organisation should not be trading as yet.
  2. The organisation is offering a genuine vacancy: The Home Office needs to be convinced that there is an offer of genuine employment that meets the skilled worker visa or other type of work visa requirements.
  3. The organisation has the necessary HR and recruitment systems: The Home Office may evaluate whether the organisation has the necessary HR systems to comply with its sponsor duties.
  4. The organisation is "honest, dependable and reliable": One consideration is that the key personnel should not have any unspent criminal convictions.
  5. The organisation does not pose a threat to immigration control: The Home Office is likely to consider whether the organisation has a record of non-compliance with immigration rules.

Costs Associated with Sponsor Licences

Obtaining a sponsor licence involves certain costs, including the application fee and Immigration Health Surcharge. The cost will vary depending on the size of the organisation and the type of licence. It's essential to understand these costs and budget for them accordingly.

Application Procedure for Obtaining a Sponsor Licence

The application for a sponsor licence is a meticulous process that requires careful attention to detail. The process involves providing detailed information about the organisation, nominating key personnel on the licence, and submitting all required supporting documents. The application form needs to be completed and submitted by the Authorising Officer (AO).


Understanding the various types of sponsor licences available in the UK is crucial for employers looking to hire skilled foreign nationals. The process can be complex, but with the right knowledge and guidance, it can be navigated successfully.

How Can Help with Sponsor Licences

If you need help with employing Skilled Workers and applying for a Sponsor Licence, including complying with your Sponsor Licence obligations, HR responsibilities, etc can help.

For more information and advice, please contact us at 0344 991 9222 or at sends e-mail)(link sends e-mail)