Legally reviewed by: Sherena Lawrence Updated:

Sponsorship Licence

Sponsorship licence

Sponsor Licences for UK Businesses

If you are looking at growing your business by employing talent from overseas, you will need to have a sponsor licence. A sponsor licence will give you the freedom to recruit employees from across the world in line with UK law.

Our solicitors can help you assess if your business is eligible for a sponsor licence and help you with the application process from start to finish.

Why Do Businesses Need a Sponsor Licence?

If you want to recruit employees from overseas, you require a sponsor licence by law.

Your prospective employees from outside the UK will usually require a visa to be able to live and work in the UK. Before they can apply for their visa, your business will need to hold a sponsor licence. Additionally, you will need to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship.

The type of sponsor licence you need depends on the type of worker you are looking to employ:

  • Worker licence – this allows you to sponsor workers in skilled employment. You will need this licence to employ people on a Skilled Worker visa, a Senior or Specialist Worker visa, a Minister of Religion, or an International Sportsperson visa.
  • Temporary Worker licence – this allows you to sponsor workers on a temporary basis and covers a number of short term work visas.

You can apply for either a worker or temporary worker licence, or for a licence that covers both types of workers.

Benefits of Having a Sponsor Licence

With a UK sponsor licence, you can employ foreign workers legally under UK law, while you significantly strengthen your international reputation in the recruitment market.

With your sponsor licence in place, you will be able to give your recruits the freedom to move to and live in the UK. This is for the duration you employ them. Your employees may also bring their dependants with them, as often your employees will want to form their life in the UK and ultimately settle.

Any dependants will then also be allowed to work or study with relatively few limitations while they are here in the UK together with your employee.

Sponsor Licence Duties

Being awarded a sponsor licence requires more than just a watertight application. You need to be able to prove that you can remain compliant with UK law both now and in the future.

Duties as a licenced sponsor include:

  • Ensuring your employees have the necessary skills for the job and keeping adequate records of this.
  • Assigning certificates of sponsorship only where the job is suitable.
  • Informing UKVI if your employees do not comply with their visa conditions.
  • Have HR systems in place to effectively monitor your employees and keep records.
  • Informing UKVI of changes to your business’ circumstances.

Failing to comply with your duties as a sponsor can result in your licence being suspended, withdrawn, or downgraded, which can be detrimental to your business.

Our immigration solicitors can help by ensuring you are informed of your duties as a sponsor and have systems in place to adequately maintain your sponsor licence. Wherever you’re based in the UK, we’ll get you set up so you can fill those crucial vacancies and support your staff in the long term.

Applying as an Education Provider

In order to welcome students from overseas, UK universities, schools and other education providers require the appropriate sponsor licence first. Our expert solicitors can help you obtain your licence and begin attracting talented students from around the world.
Learn more about sponsorship licences for education providers

Business Immigration Solicitors

We help businesses both small and large across the UK understand what the sponsor licence system involves.

We offer business immigration services which will help you grow your business in line with UK law. Your solicitor will stand by you to help you capitalise on all the opportunities employing foreign workers can offer you.

By guiding your company through the application process, we can help you meet the Home Office sponsorship requirements much quicker. This will allow you to focus on growing your business with the benefits you will get from international recruitment.

Sponsorship Licence Support Services

Experts in UK Business Immigration Services

We have built up an excellent reputation in the field of UK business immigration. Additionally, we hold a Quality Mark Accreditation through Lexcel.

You can trust that the service you receive from us will always be of the highest standards. We get to know you and your business, so we can give you the best possible tailored advice. Our solicitors keep you updated on your application. Additionally, we offer you the answers you need to any other business immigration questions you might have.

For any questions about any aspect of your sponsor licence or business immigration management, just get in touch.

Our immigration solicitors are here to offer you their legal advice and guidance any time you need it.

We offer a 30-minute consultations with one of our immigration solicitors. Our solicitors can call you over the phone or via Skype. Alternatively, we can hold a meeting in our offices. We do not offer free advice and will charge a non-refundable £95 fee per consultation.

We're here for you.

Frequently asked questions.

I’m a UK employer, what are my sponsor licence responsibilities?

As a UK employer, you are responsible for:

  • Checking that any non-UK nationals that you hire have the required skills, qualifications or professional accreditations for the job that you recruited them for. You must retain any documents that show proof of these requirements
  • Assigning Certificates of Sponsorship to non-UK nationals, only when the job is suitable for sponsorship
  • Informing the relevant UKVI Sponsor Licence department of the Home Office if a sponsored worker is breaching the conditions of their visa – i.e. unreported absences
  • Having a HR system in place to monitor employees
  • Keeping a record of employee attendance and absences 
  • Keeping employee contact details up to date 
  • Reporting changes to your business that affect your licence and individuals that you’re sponsoring – i.e. your business is being taken over

We’re a UK higher education provider, what are our sponsor licence duties?

As a UK higher education provider, you are responsible for:

  • Checking that any international students you have enrolled have permission to study in the UK – you must retain and maintain documentary evidence as proof for the entirety of a student’s time in the UK
  • Notifying UKVI if a student changes course, stops attending classes or withdraws from a course of study entirely
  • Only issuing CAS numbers to students capable of completing their selected course
  • Only issuing CAS numbers to students who are eligible to complete their course within the time limits permitted on their Student visa.
  • Keeping student contact records up to date
  • Monitoring student attendance and absence

What is a compliance visit?

In order to assess whether an organisation can fulfil its Sponsor Licence duties, the Home Office may conduct a site visit as part of your application to sponsor visa holders. A compliance visit can also be made at any time during the validity period of your Sponsorship Licence. Visits can be scheduled or unscheduled.

Home Officials will scrutinise your systems, processes and procedures to determine whether you can meet your Sponsor Licence duties. 

If the Home Office has requested a site visit, or you suspect an unscheduled visit, talk to Cartwright King’s experienced Business Immigration Lawyers immediately, for advice.

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