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UK sponsorship licence information for employers

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Changes to the UK immigration system for 2021 mean that EU and non-EU nationals are now subject to the same UK visa and immigration controls. For British businesses employing EU and non-EU nationals using an existing Tier 2 sponsorship licence, the new system has caused some confusion.


Business leaders in Britain have been left unsure whether their existing sponsor licence is still valid and whether they have to apply for a new licence. Prior to the end of free movement between the EU and the UK, concerns were raised over the lack of preparation among businesses ahead of the launch of the new UK immigration system on 1 January.


No need for new sponsor licence

In an effort to make UK employers aware of how the new immigration rules would affect hiring from the EU, the Home Office launched a marketing campaign and issued detailed guidance outlining the new visa and immigration system.

In the guidance, the Home Office announced that UK businesses with an existing sponsor licence would not have to apply for a new sponsor licence. Instead, existing sponsor licences would be transferred over to the new system.

Under the new skilled worker visa category, British employers are advised that a new minimum salary threshold of £25,600 or above will apply in order to hire staff from EU or non-EU nations (except if the role is in healthcare, education or any other job on the UK Shortage Occupation List, where a salary threshold of £20,480 applies).

Employers should be aware that only basic gross pay can be used to meet the minimum salary threshold – gross pay being the amount before income tax, national insurance and employee pension deductions are applied.

Any bonuses or benefits associated with a job position cannot be used toward the minimum salary threshold.

Under the new immigration rules, the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) has also been scrapped, which means that employers no longer have to advertise jobs to UK residents before being allowed to advertise any job roles to migrants.


Defined and undefined certificates

Certificates of sponsorship have also been recategorised as ‘defined’ and ‘undefined’ certificates. 

Defined certificates are for foreign nationals applying for a skilled worker visa from outside the UK. Employers must apply for defined certificates for these workers using the sponsorship management system (SMS).

New sponsor licence applicants are granted access to the SMS upon receipt of a licence.

Undefined certificates are issued to skilled workers applying from inside the UK. New sponsor licence applicants will need to estimate how many undefined certificates are required to hire full-time and temporary workers in the first year.


Immigration Skills Charge

Employers may also be subject to the UK Immigration Skills Charge when issuing defined or undefined certificates. The charge does not apply when a person is hired for a role on the UK Shortage Occupation List. 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 on Sponsor licences, please contact us on 0344 991 9222 or at