How does a UK business get a sponsor licence?

How does a UK business get a sponsor licence?

There is increasing talk in the press about the need for UK business owners to be ’brexit ready’ and to ensure that UK businesses, large and small, apply for their sponsor licence now. Images of some of the UK government preparations for the end of the brexit implementation period in the county of Kent have really brought it home to some UK business owners that brexit is a done deal and that, like it or not, firms need to get ready for all the changes that the end of the brexit implementation period and the introduction of the new points based immigration system will mean for them. That includes the ability of businesses to recruit overseas workers to fill job vacancies after the end of free movement and to navigate new immigration Rules on the points based immigration system. In this blog we set out what UK business owners need to be doing to obtain a Home Office issued sponsor licence.


UK Sponsor Licence solicitors  

London based OTS Solicitors specialise in business immigration law  and have an expert team of sponsor licence solicitorswith substantial experience in applying for first sponsor licences and guiding UK business owners through the Sponsor Licence application and sponsor licence management process. For information on our Sponsor Licence services call the Sponsor Licence immigration lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us here.  Appointments are available through video conferencing, Skype or by telephone appointment.  

Step by step guide to applying for a Sponsor Licence 

Sponsor licence solicitors say that when it comes to applying for your first Sponsor Licence it is essential to get the basics right and that your business understands the importance of doing so.

 At the moment, you don’t need a Sponsor Licence to employ EU workers but after the end of free movement on the 31 December 2020 a business will need a Home Office issued Sponsor Licence if it wants to recruit and sponsor any non-EEA national who needs a work visa to live and work in the UK and any EU citizen who is subject to UK immigration control because they don’t have settled status or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme and aren’t eligible to apply for pre-settled status before the cut-off deadline.

When looking at Home Office issued material on applying for a sponsor licence it is easy to get bogged down in the detail but in essence you need to:

  • Check your business is eligible to apply for a Sponsor Licence 
  • Consider your business plans and recruitment needs and consider if your recruitment needs could be met through UK based recruitment or if there is a skills shortage
  • Check if the job roles that your business is likely to need to fill are ones that meet the criteria for a skilled work visa under the new points based immigration system 
  • See if you have all the right paperwork to apply for your Sponsor Licence and, if not,  get the documents you need 
  • Look at how you can manage a sponsor licence and who you would appoint to do so. You could appoint Sponsor Licence solicitors to manage much of the Sponsor Licence reporting and recording duties or you could manage your duties in-house with the appointment of  Employees into Sponsor Licence administration roles with ongoing support and specialist training from sponsor licence solicitors
  • Take a robust look at your management and HR systems (such as the conduct of right to work checks and compliance with illegal working legislation). lf you aren’t sure what standards the Home Office will expect of you if you are granted a Home Office Sponsor Licence get a Sponsor Licence solicitor to review and audit your procedures and sort out an action plan to best ensure that your business is successful in its Sponsor Licence application 
  • Give your business sufficient time to apply for the Sponsor Licence before your overseas recruitment needs become pressing. The Home Office is currently saying that you should allow eight weeks to secure your Sponsor Licence but sponsor licence solicitors say that doesn’t take into account your preparation, audit and document location time so it is best to start the process now
  • Apply for the Sponsor Licence online and pay the Sponsor Licence fee. The Sponsor Licence fee will depend on the size of your business. When applying for your Sponsor Licence you will need to send the Home Office your supporting documents and be able to say how many workers you anticipate wanting to sponsor on a work visa.

What happens after a Sponsor Licence is issued by the Home Office? 

As well as knowing how to apply for a sponsor licence it is also important to know what happens when you obtain your Sponsor Licence. The key points are: 

  • Your business will be awarded a Sponsor Licence for four years. You will have to apply for a new Sponsor Licence shortly before the Sponsor Licence expiry date if you want to be able to continue to sponsor overseas workers 
  • During the life of your Sponsor Licence your business and its Sponsor Licence could be audited by the Home Office. If you aren’t complying with your Sponsor Licence reporting and recording duties your Sponsor Licence could be downgraded, suspended or revoked
  • When you want to recruit a job applicant who needs a sponsoring employer to secure a work visa you need to allocate them a Certificate of Sponsorship through the sponsor licence management system. The recruit then uses that Certificate of Sponsorship to apply to the Home Office for a work visa
  • Businesses who recruit overseas workers are liable for the immigration skills charge and those costs need to be factored in when recruiting from overseas. This may be an unexpected expense if your business has previously only recruited from the EU. After the end of free movement any EU worker who is subject to immigration control and planning to work in the UK on a work visa will need to have the immigration skills charge paid.

What next?

The run through of how to apply for a sponsor licence is a quick and brief over view of the key points. If you would like bespoke advice on your Sponsor Licence application then contact the sponsor licence solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us here. Appointments are available through video conferencing, Skype or by telephone appointment.   

UK Sponsor Licence solicitors  

OTS Solicitors specialise in business immigration and employment law and are recommended in the two leading law directories, The Legal 500 and Chambers Guide to the Legal Profession. 

The expert sponsor licence lawyers provide specialist employment law and immigration advice for UK business owners on the new points based immigration system and the Sponsor Licence application and sponsor licence management process. 

Call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us here. Appointments are available through video conferencing, Skype or by telephone appointment.  


Relevant People: 

For the best expert legal advice and outcome on your UK immigration application, contact OTS immigration solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.


We are one of the UK’s top firms for immigration solicitors and civil liberties lawyers. We can advise on a broad range of immigration issues including Appeals and Refusals, Judicial Reviews, Spouse Visas, student visas, Work Permit Visas, Indefinite Leave to Remain, EEA Applications, asylum and human rights, British citizenship, All types of visas, Business Immigration Visas, entrepreneur visas and Investor Visas.

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