UK Visa Sponsor License Solicitors

We understand that navigating the UK's immigration system can be complex challenging. One crucial aspect organisations often grapple with is getting a Sponsor Licence. This licence lets your company sponsor migrant workers.

Our expert team of business immigration solicitors have the experience and specialist knowledge to secure you the right licence. We’ve been working in licensing for over 20 years and have worked with businesses of all shapes and sizes.

Whatever your business needs, we’ll work with you throughout the process, from creating a solid application to making sure you’re adhering to compliance laws.

Contact us today to find out more about how we can help you. 

What is a UK Sponsor Licence?

In the context of the UK's points-based immigration framework, a UK Sponsor Licence serves as formal authorisation from UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI), a division of the Home Office. It allows companies to hire foreign workers.

This applies across several categories of work visas, including:

  • Skilled Worker
  • Global Business Mobility
  • Health and Care Worker.

Only businesses, not individuals, can get this licence. Having this licence proves that your business is eligible and responsible enough to bring migrant workers into the country. It can help you to diversify your talent pool and contribute to the UK's economy.

A Sponsor Licence lets your company issue Certificates of Sponsorship (“CoS”) to qualified non-UK nationals. This helps their work visa applications. The licence remains valid for four years, with an option for renewal.

It’s important to bear in mind that a Sponsor Licence comes with strict compliance obligations. Not following these can result in severe consequences. You could face financial penalties or have your licence revoked.

What are the types of Sponsor Licence?

When hiring international staff, UK businesses have two main categories of Sponsor Licences to consider: Worker Licences and Temporary Worker Licences. It’s vital you specify the type of licence you need during the application process. You must only hire international employees who fall under the scope of the granted licence(s).

Worker Licence

This Sponsor Licence lets you hire skilled non-UK nationals for short-term, long-term, or permanent employment. The Worker Licence covers various visa categories such as:

  • Skilled Worker
  • Senior or Specialist Worker Visa (this has replaced the Intra-Company Transfer Visa)
  • Scale-up Worker
  • Minister of Religion
  • International Sportsperson.

The Worker Licence states that all sponsored roles must meet the UK's points-based immigration system requirements. This includes minimum salary standards, which can vary based on factors like:

  1. The candidate’s qualifications
  2. Their age
  3. Whether they are new to the job market.

Temporary Worker Licence

This licence caters to businesses that aim to employ international staff on a short-term or temporary basis. Unlike the Worker Licence, this is more suited for roles like volunteers and temporary creative workers. The Temporary Worker Licence covers the following routes:

  • Scale-up Worker
  • Creative Worker
  • Charity Worker
  • Religious Worker
  • Government Authorised Exchange
  • International Agreement
  • Graduate Trainee (Global Business Mobility)
  • Service Supplier (Global Business Mobility)
  • UK Expansion Worker (Global Business Mobility)
  • Secondment Worker (Global Business Mobility)
  • Seasonal Worker.

Not all job roles are eligible for sponsorship under these licences. You should check the specific criteria of the relevant work visa before starting the sponsorship process.

What are the requirements for a Sponsor Licence?

There are several requirements you need to meet when applying for a Sponsor Licence. These can vary depending on which route your organisation wishes to apply under.

The requirements are:

  1. Your organisation must be genuine and lawfully trading or operating in the UK
  2. The role(s) you’re sponsoring must be for a genuine vacancy that meet the visa route’s specific criteria.
  3. Not meeting any of the criteria can result in the application being rejected or refused. You may need to wait up to 12 months before you can apply again.

Our expert immigration team will be able to review your business. We can advise on its eligibility for a Sponsor Licence under the Worker or Temporary Worker categories.

How can we help with your Sponsor Licence application?

Securing a Sponsor Licence can be a complex task. We offer a tailored range of services to simplify this process for you:

Initial Consultation and Eligibility Assessment

Our team of immigration specialists conducts a thorough review of your organisation's qualifications. Based on this assessment, we guide you on the most suitable type of Sponsor Licence that aligns with your unique business needs.

Application Assistance

We offer hands-on support in the preparation and submission of your Sponsor Licence application. Our focus is on ensuring all necessary documentation is complete and accurate. This significantly increases your chances of a successful application.

Compliance Management

Not complying with UKVI requirements can result in penalties or even the revocation of your Sponsor Licence. We offer help in setting up effective compliance systems to avoid these risks.

Sponsor Management System (SMS) Setup and Management

To manage sponsored employees, you’ll need a reliable system to ensure compliance. We can help you set up and maintain your Sponsor Management System (SMS), which will make sure you’re complying with regulations.

Staff Training

To ensure your staff understand their roles and responsibilities, we offer training sessions on sponsor obligations and compliance best practices.

Renewal and Appeal Support

We’ll be here to help you when it’s time to renew your Sponsor Licence.

Why choose Irwin Mitchell?

It’s important you can trust the people who you put in charge of your Sponsor Licence application. Here’s why you can trust us to handle this responsibility for you:

In-Depth Specialisation

We’re a team of immigration experts who stay up to date with the most current laws and regulations in the UK. This ensures your application is managed efficiently and complies with existing rules.

Bespoke Services

We offer advice that’s tailored to the unique needs of your organisation and industry. This level of customisation increases your chances of being accepted for a Sponsor Licence.

Precision and Timeliness

In the world of immigration, both efficiency and accuracy are essential. We’ve a proven track record in streamlining the application process while minimising errors. this reduces the chances of delays or refusals.

Commitment to Your Objectives

We understand the value of your time and resources. We're devoted to helping you navigate the complex landscape of UK immigration laws. This gives you the freedom to focus on your core business needs, safe in the knowledge you're compliant with the law.

Frequently asked questions:

How can I get a Sponsor Licence?

Before applying, you’ll need to check whether your organisation is eligible for a Sponsor Licence. This includes being able to supply specific documentation. This documentation must be supplied alongside the application.

You’ll also need to appoint several Key Personnel for the Sponsor Licence. They’ll be responsible for your organisation’s Sponsor Licence.
Each Sponsor Licence needs:

  • An Authorising Officer – usually the highest-ranking person in charge of recruitment for your company and is responsible for the Sponsor Management System (“SMS”).
  • A Level 1 User – they’ll have access to the SMS and handle the reporting of organisation changes and assigning the Certificate of Sponsorship (“CoS”)
  • A Key Contact – the main contact between your business and the Home Office.

The Home Office needs organisations to have effective HR systems in place. This is so you can manage the responsibilities of a Sponsor Licence. You may need to update your HR systems to be suitable and eligible for the categories you’ve chosen.

Once these points have been considered and you’ve submitted your application, you’ll need to wait for a decision.

What’s the processing time for a Sponsor Licence application?

It normally takes about eight weeks to process a Sponsor Licence application. However, there are issues to consider:

  • Standard Processing Time: Typically, it takes approximately eight weeks for the Home Office to process a Sponsor Licence application.
  • Compliance Visit: During this eight-week window, the Home Office may carry out a compliance visit at your business premises. This is to see if you’re adhering to your sponsorship duties.
  • Priority Service: If you want a faster turnaround, a priority service is available by paying an extra fee to the Home Office. The Home Office then aims to speed up the process and give a decision within 10 working days.

What are common issues at the application stage?

We’ve over 20 years of experience in the field of UK Immigration law. In this time, we’ve developed an understanding of where businesses fall short when applying for their Sponsor Licence. The most common issue is giving documentation.

We’ve acted for many organisations who were eligible for a Sponsor Licence. However, they either didn’t give specified documents and/or gave the wrong documents to support their application. This can delay to your application, as you need to give the Home Office more time to get the right information. Not giving the correct documentation could even mean your application’s refused.

Our expert UK immigration lawyers can help you with any Sponsor Licence application. We’ll make sure you’re eligible and are have the right documents to avoid delay or rejection.

Awards & Accreditations

We’re proud of the recognition we’ve received for our business legal work. For a list of awards and accreditations, please visit our awards page.

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Find one of our solicitors near you

We have offices in major cities throughout the UK and our lawyers can arrange to visit you or your business in person if necessary. We also have international capability, with global links to other legal specialists.