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How to apply for a tier 2 sponsor licence?

Businesses who wish to employ foreign nationals from outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland must have what is known as a Sponsorship Licence.

In order to obtain a licence it must first be ascertained what type of company the business is and this then dictates the type of documents UKBA require for the application. For businesses operating for less than 18 months in total, the rules on the documents needed are more onerous. There is a detailed list of documents that can be provided on the UKBA website; however the rules state that only four from the list have to be sent.

The application is made on-line and then a hard copy of the application along with the supporting documentation must be sent within 5 working days of the on-line application. The Home Office tend to decide applications very quickly. Even the level of salary can affect the turn around time for the application.

Once the business has a sponsor licence they can then start to assign certificates to employees. Before doing so they must see if the job they wish to offer to the applicant meets the criteria, especially the appropriate pay and ensure they match the correct Home Office code to the job ( known as an SOC code). It is then the businesses’ duty, as the sponsor, to ensure they assign the certificate correctly.

There are two different types of certificate of sponsorship:

  • Unrestricted: These are for applicants who are already in the UK on a Tier 2 visa or in the UK and wish to switch into a Tier 2 Visa.
  • Restricted: These are for applicants who are currently abroad and who want to come to the UK on a Tier 2 general visa.

Once the certificate ha s been assigned, the company is responsible for everything that person does while under that licence and as the Sponsor they have certain duties to follow. If these are not complied with then the Sponsor licence can be downgraded.

If your business would like assistance in making an application for a Sponsor Licence then please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Immigration Lawyers on 0808 168 5550 or email

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