Tier 2 Work Permit Visa and Sponsorship Licence

Tier 2 Work Permit Visa and Sponsorship Licence

For a discussion or to book an appointment with a member of our business immigration team, please call us now on 0203 959 9123. 

We understand that for your business to succeed in today’s post-Brexit UK and international market, your company requires highly skilled workers and therefore access to the best possible candidates from around the world is crucial. Our corporate immigration solicitors assist businesses to meet the requirements for Sponsorship Licences and ensure UK employers can hire Tier 2 highly skilled migrant workers from non-EEA countries and from the EU in compliance with the latest UK Immigration Rules, the new points-based immigration system and skilled worker visa.

We are here to help you with all types of Sponsorship Licence matters whether it is:

Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence Applications

Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence Audits and Compliance

Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence management

Tier 2 Sponsorship guidance on skilled worker visas

Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence Renewals

Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence Revocations

Steps and visa requirements to hire an overseas worker as a Tier 2 highly skilled migrant worker under the UK points-based immigration system.

If you are a company or employer in the UK who wishes to employ non-EEA nationals or EU citizens who don’t qualify for pre-settled status or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme and who therefore must meet visa requirements, then your business must hold a Sponsorship Licence. 

A Sponsorship Licence is an agreement between your business and the Home Office giving you permission to recruit skilled workers on work visas who meet the visa requirements under the points-based immigration system. To secure and maintain a Sponsorship Licence your company will need to comply with the rigorous Home Office Sponsor Licence reporting and recording duties.

Once your company is granted a Sponsorship Licence by the Home Office, the business will appear on the Tier 2 Sponsor List or register of Sponsor Licence holders. The Sponsor Licence is usually valid for four years and before your Sponsorship Licence expires, your company must renew the Licence if your business intends to continue employing highly skilled overseas workers on Tier 2 (General) visas or skilled worker visas.  Please click here for our page on Sponsorship Licence Renewals for a detailed discussion on renewing a Sponsorship Licence.

There are two types of licences that employers in the UK can obtain:

  1. A licence to hire skilled long-term workers under the skilled worker visa category (commonly referred to as the high skilled worker, skilled worker, temporary skilled worker, or highly skilled migrant visa) or
  2. A licence to hire skilled temporary workers for those under the Tier 5 visa category of the points-based immigration system. 

How do employers apply for a Sponsorship Licence?

The application for a Sponsorship Licence must be submitted online via the Sponsorship Management System (SMS).  The Home Office therefore requires businesses to appoint one or more members of their existing staff to the following sponsorship management roles:

  • Authorising Officer
  • Key contact
  • Level 1 user (responsible for the day to day management of the licence)

Employers must further demonstrate that:

  • The business is a genuine organisation trading lawfully in the UK.
  • The Human Resources department is competent, organised, and knowledgeable on the duties and responsibilities as the Sponsor of highly skilled migrant workers on Tier 2 skilled worker visas.
  • Any key staff members appointed to handle and maintain the Licence are of good character, organised and reliable.

The Home Office publishes a guide, referred to as the Shortage Occupation list, which provides a list of all roles that employers struggle to fill with UK settled workers. If the job your company is recruiting for is not on the Shortage Occupation List, the job may still meet the eligibility criteria for an overseas highly skilled migrant worker to make a visa application for a skilled worker visa.

If your Sponsorship Licence application is approved, your company will receive a sponsorship rating.  An ‘A’ rating means your business can begin employing Tier 2 skilled migrants on skilled worker visas from overseas and your business will be added to the Tier 2 sponsor list or register of approved Home Office sponsors. 

If your company fails to meet its sponsorship obligations and duties imposed on it as a Sponsorship Licence holder, the Sponsorship Licence rating can be downgraded and eventually the Sponsorship Licence could be revoked or suspended if the company fails to take the necessary steps to meet its sponsor duties. Please click here for detailed guidance on the revocation of Tier 2 Sponsorship Licences.

It is important to note that as an employer company, you are responsible for monitoring the immigration status of all skilled worker visa and Tier 2 (General) visa holders and you must report any issues or changes to the Home Office immediately. Please click here for further information on sponsor duties and compliance requirements.

Tier 2 migrant and skilled worker visa applications under the UK points-based immigration system

The Tier 2 skilled worker visa category is part of the UK’s new post Brexit and the end of free movement points-based immigration system allowing highly skilled workers from around the world to be sponsored by UK employers to secure employment in the UK. The most common types of visas within the Tier 2 points-based category include:

  1. The skilled worker visa ( This used to be called the Tier 2 (General) visa)

– This category relates to the skilled worker and is suitable for people that can offer a skill in the UK that is needed, and which will fill a gap in the UK labour force.

  1. Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) visa

– This category applies to overseas workers needing to make a visa application to transfer to the UK branch of their company.

  1. Sports Person visa

– This category applies to professional coaches and athletes who meet the visa requirement.

  1. Minister of Religion visa

– This category is applicable to you if you are offered a job within a faith community in the UK.

To successfully obtain a grant of leave as a Tier 2 skilled worker migrant, the job must first meet the following requirements:

  • An employer who holds a Sponsorship Licence must assign a Certificate of Sponsorship and the prospective Tier 2 skilled migrant must meet the visa requirements and satisfy the required level of skill for the role.
  • The UK employer must offer the minimum remuneration (appropriate salary) which is dependent on the role to be filled. 
  • The prospective Tier 2 visa holder must satisfy the maintenance requirement and the eligibility criteria for the skilled worker visa.

If you are successfully granted a Tier 2 skilled worker visa you have leave to enter or remain in the UK for three years following which you may be eligible to apply for an extension.  Once a skilled worker has been residing in the UK for a continuous period of five years, they may be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).

Recent Changes

Immigration law is constantly changing and becoming increasingly complex because of the end of free movement for EU nationals, the impact of the EU Settlement Scheme and the new points-based immigration system introducing new visa opportunities such as the skilled worker visa.

If you are an employer who holds a Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence or you are intending to apply for a Sponsorship Licence, it is now more important than ever that you remain well informed of the regular changes made to the Immigration Rules , amendments to visa requirements and visa application processing and developments in other relevant legislation. Failure to adhere to the recent changes in Immigration law will render any Sponsorship Licence application unsuccessful or put your company’s current Sponsorship Licence at risk of suspension or revocation as it is the employer’s obligation to ensure that the business is able to satisfy the relevant Sponsorship Licence requirements.

How the sponsor licence and business immigration team at OTS Solicitors can assist

OTS Solicitors have an established a Sponsorship Licence and Compliance Team with a long track record of successful Sponsorship Licence applications and tackling threats of Sponsor Licences being suspended or revoked. Our business immigration law team are committed to providing your business with proactive and easy to follow guidance, every step of the way. Our solicitors from the business immigration team, led by Hans Sok Appadu, will ensure that whether it is a Sponsorship Licence application or a work visa application for a skilled worker visa, your application is completed successfully, and that you understand your Sponsorship Licence duties and visa duties.

Our corporate immigration solicitors can advise you and/or your business associates on: 

  • Sponsorship Licences
  • Guidance on complying with the illegal workers policies and duties as a Sponsorship Licence holder
  • The array of applications under the points-based immigration system including skilled worker visas
  • Applications for temporary workers and seasonal workers
  • Alternatives to work visas such as the global talent visa 
  • Global Migration planning
  • Refusals and Judicial Reviews

Please contact our city centre London offices on 0203 959 9123 for detailed advice catered to your business and its needs whether you are a start-up, SME or multinational company or an individual hoping to secure a work visa in the UK.

For a more detailed discussion regarding your case, or to book an appointment with a member of our business immigration team, please call us now on 0203 959 9123 

Tier 2 Work Permit Visa and Sponsorship Licence Success Stories

Tier 2 Work Permit Visa and Sponsorship Licence subsections

Sponsorship Licence Application

If you are UK company wishing to recruit talent from outside the EEA, you will require a Sponsorship Licence from UK Visas and immigration.  Our immigration solicitors have years of experience advising employers on how to obtain and maintain an A rated Sponsorship Licence and are regarded as one of the best immigration legal teams in London.

Our immigration solicitors, is led by Teni Shahiean, a highly regarded immigration and Employment solicitor who has been recognised in the Legal 500 and by the Law Society of England and Wales for her expertise in immigration law.  Teni and her team will listen to your recruitment requirements and provide you with full support when collating the required documentation and completing the application form.  We will also use our contacts at UK Visas and immigration to ensure any questions or concerns they may have about your application are answered efficiently and effectively.

Eligibility criteria for applying for a UK Sponsor Licence

A potential sponsor must:

  • be genuine and operating or trading lawfully in the UK
  • be based in the UK
  • hold the appropriate planning permission or Local Planning Authority consent for the type of business operated at the trading address
  • be 'honest, dependable and reliable'
  • not represent a threat to immigration control, and
  • be willing and able to comply with the sponsor duties and responsibilities.

If a sponsor is a food business, it must hold appropriate registration with, or approval of a relevant food authority.

There is a specific sponsor applications team at UK Visas and immigration which considers applications for sponsorship.

The sponsor must be able to meet the criteria of each specific category or tier for which it is seeking the licence.

UK Visas and immigration takes a rigorous approach when investigating whether or not the applicant is willing and able to comply with his or her sponsor duties. Applicant organisations are being asked more detailed questions about, and for documents evidencing, various aspects of their corporate structures/ownership or staff hierarchies, the nature of their business, and so on.  Our specialist immigration team will advise you on proving your competence in this requirement to UK Visas and immigration officials, so your application is approved without delay.

The suitability assessment

Once the UK Visas and immigration is happy as to a potential sponsor's eligibility, it will then look to whether or not it is suitable to receive a licence. UK Visas and immigration will consider the applicant organisation under the four broad suitability categories:

  • if it has effective human resources systems to be able to fulfil its sponsor duties
  • if it or any of its associated persons have:
  1. been given a civil penalty for employing an illegal worker
  2. been given a civil penalty within the last five years under any of the legislative provisions listed in Appendix C other than in relation to illegal working
  3. have any unspent convictions for a relevant offence or any of the offences listed in Annex 7of the Points-Based System Sponsor Guidance (SG)
  • if the organisation has a previous record of non-compliance or poor compliance with the duties of sponsorship or is employing any migrants (whether sponsored or not) who are in breach of their conditions of leave
  • if it is able to offer 'genuine Employment' which meets the Tier 2 (General) criteria on skill level and appropriate rate—this is explicitly stated in the Introduction to the SG to apply only to applications for licences in the Tier 2 (General) category, but elsewhere in the same document it is clear that the same considerations will apply to whichever Tier 2 category is being applied under

There are additional, potentially much wider criteria, in particular the requirements of honesty and dependability, and compliance with the law in other spheres than immigration.

The suitability assessment may include a visit from UK Visa and immigration Officials.  Your solicitor, who will manage your case from beginning to end, will help you prepare for the visit and be present when the officials are visiting the premises, allowing you to be confident that you are fully prepared and supported.

Why choose OTS Solicitors

Our immigration lawyers want to celebrate your commercial success.  By getting to know and developing an understanding of your business, we will ensure your application for a Sponsorship Licence is approved.  By instructing us, you will have confidence that you understand both the process and the obligations and responsibilities that a UK Employer Sponsorship Licence entails.

To discuss applying for a UK Employer Sponsorship Licence or if you have any questions in relation to recruiting skilled workers from outside the EEA, please feel free to contact our UK immigration team on 0207 936 9960. We will gladly assist you to obtain the best outcome for your matter.

Employers and Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence Management Service

Employers who wish to hire talent from outside the EEA need to acquire a Sponsor Licence.  The application process and the ongoing responsibilities that come with having a Sponsor Licence can be daunting; however, you can rely on our immigration solicitors to make obtaining and maintaining a licence simple, fast and stress-free. 

Getting to know your business 

Our immigration lawyers partner with businesses who engage us to manage their Sponsor Licence application and ongoing compliance matters.  We take the trouble to find out about your business, your commercial ambitions and how you want to structure your recruitment processes over the next two to five years.  This puts us in a position to advise you on: 

  • Whether the positions you need to fill are on the Shortage Occupation List.  If they are not, you will not have to advertise the position within the UK before recruiting from abroad. 

  • Applying for your Sponsor Licence. 

  • Your existing HR policies and procedures and steps that need to be implemented to ensure you can meet your sponsor obligations. 

  • Assisting successful applicants for the position on obtaining their Tier 2 work visa. 

  • How to maintain full compliance with Home Office regulations and maintain your A-rating. 


Why you need an experienced immigration solicitor 

The Home Office has consistently toughened up rules and regulations as they apply to Sponsor Licences over the past few years.  Not only do organisations have to meet strict criteria to be granted a Sponsor Licence, they must have strong HR systems in place to meet compliance requirements and be prepared for Home Office audits, which are often unannounced. 

Our immigration lawyers are led by Teni Shahiean, who has been recognised in the Legal 500 and by the Law Society of England and Wales for her in-depth knowledge of both employmentand immigration law.  Teni has a degree in both business and law, and she and her team regularly assist clients by conducting mock audits.  By checking HR policies, and your Sponsor Licence Management procedures, our immigration lawyers can analyse the strengths and weaknesses of your current systems, and put in place a strategic plan to ensure they are fully up-to-date and can cope with Home Office compliance requirements. 

Under the Immigration Act 2016, employers now face harsh penalties if caught employing illegal workers.  Prior to the introduction of the new Act, employers were liable to criminal prosecution for employing an illegal worker only if they had actual knowledge of having done so. The 2016 Act extends the existing criminal offence to also cover the situation where an employer has “reasonable cause to believe” that someone is an illegal worker. The Act also increases the maximum prison sentence for either offence from two to five years. 

The 2016 Act also gives the Home Office the power to shut down businesses for up to 48 hours if there is evidence of an organisation employing illegal workers and evading sanctions. If the employer can prove they have conducted the right to work checks, the closure notice may be withdrawn. However, if right to work checks have not been carried out, the business may be placed under special compliance requirements, as directed by a Court. This can include continued closure for a period, followed by re-opening subject to compliance inspections and the requirement to conduct right to work checks. 

Our team of immigration lawyers will ensure you are up-to-date with changes in the law and understand how and when to check employees’ immigration status.  By engaging us to advise you on your Sponsor Licence Management, you can be confident that your business is fully compliant with UK immigration law

Let us help you grow your business 

Our immigration lawyers are experts in their field.  We take away the time-commitment and stress of keeping up to date with ever-changing immigration regulations and Home Office policies, by ensuring that relevant staff in your organisation understand what is required to maintain an A-rating on a Sponsor Licence. 

We provide fast, proactive, friendly service to organisations ranging from small- operators to SMEs to large, multi-national corporations.  We invest heavily in legal research materials; so our clients are confident that we know about forthcoming regulation changes well in advance. 

If your Sponsor Licence has been downgraded, we will help you develop a plan to recover your A- rating as soon as possible. 

To find out more about our Sponsor Licence Management, please feel free to contact our UK immigration solicitors on 0207 936 9960. We are here to help ensure you are in full compliance with your Sponsor Licence obligations. 

Sponsorship Licence Audit and Compliance Service

Applying for and even receiving your UK Sponsorship Licence is only part of the work required by the Home Office for employers who wish to recruit talent from outside the EEA.  Home Office officials may visit your premises unannounced, to audit your policies and procedures and ensure you are complying with your sponsorship responsibilities. 

Our immigration solicitors are a fast-acting, dynamic team.  When it comes to assisting employers with their compliance obligations, we are proactive; always ensuring that your policies and procedures are compliant with the latest changes in immigration law.

Our team

Our immigration lawyers are led by Teni Shahiean, who has been recognised in the Legal 500 and by the Law Society of England and Wales for her in-depth knowledge of both employmentand immigration law.  Teni has a degree in both business and law, and has an in-depth understanding of the commercial requirements of organisations who need to employ talent from outside the EEA.  She has appeared on Sky1, the BBC Victoria Derbyshire program and Share Radio, and is regularly sought to provide opinions on immigration law from British and international journalists.

How we assist with Home Office audits

The recent Byron Hamburgers immigration raid, where workers were called in to what they thought was a health and safety meeting, and instead were met with Home Office officials who deported the workers who were in the country illegally, highlights the need for robust compliance procedures.  The hamburger business suffered weeks of bad publicity following the incident, and had to temporarily close a branch in London due to protests about the alleged ‘sting’ on its employees.

Our immigration solicitors will ensure that your policies and procedures are always up-to-date.  In the past, visits from the Home Office on employers holding a Sponsor Licence were pre-announced, now officials are likely to descend on businesses without notice.  They will assess your HR systems/ processes, record keeping activities, Sponsor Management System (SMS) updates and files for migrant employees. If officials are not happy with the level of compliance, they can issue fines and downgrade, or even revoke your Sponsor Licence.

The immigration lawyers at OTS Solicitors can carry out a mock audit of your policies and procedures.  We will then provide a report on the strength and weaknesses of your systems and assist you with co-ordinating a strategy to ensure your organisation becomes and remains in full compliance with sponsor obligations.

The Home Office review

If a visit to your premises does occur, the Home Office official will look at five key areas of compliance:

  • Monitoring immigration status and preventing illegal working
  • Maintaining migrant workers’ contact details
  • Record keeping
  • Migrant tracking and monitoring
  • Recruitment practices and professional accreditations

They will then rate your HR policies and procedures from one to three (a score of one being the best, three the worst).  To maintain an A-rating, you will need to receive a one in all these areas.

Our immigration solicitors will do our best to be present at a Home Office audit (if prior notice is given) and will answer any questions the official has on your behalf.  By engaging us to assist you with audit and compliance matters, you can be confident that you will receive and keep your A-rating.

Ensuring full compliance with Home Office obligations is challenging for any employer.  Immigration rules are constantly changing.  You can trust our immigration lawyers to not only keep you up-to-date with regulatory changes, but to check your systems and confirm that you will pass an inspection if one occurs.

What if you fail an audit?

If your processes and procedures do not meet Home Office expectations, Teni and her team are here to help. 

Prior to the introduction of the Immigration Act 2016, employers were liable to criminal prosecution for employing an illegal worker only if they had actual knowledge of having done so. The 2016 Act extends the existing criminal offence to also cover the situation where an employer has “reasonable cause to believe” that someone is an illegal worker. The Act also increases the maximum prison sentence for either offence from two to five years.

The 2016 Act also gives the Home Office the power to shut down businesses for up to 48 hours if there is evidence of employers flouting the law by employing illegal workers and evading sanctions. If the employer can prove they have conducted the right to work checks, the closure notice may be withdrawn. However, if right to work checks have not been carried out, the business may be placed under special compliance requirements, as directed by a Court. This can include continued closure for a period, followed by re-opening subject to compliance inspections and the requirement to conduct right to work checks.

Don’t fall victim to the harsh new sanctions.  Engage us today to assist you with all your Sponsor Licence audit and compliance matters.

To find out more about our Sponsor Licence Management Service, please feel free to contact our UK immigration solicitors on 0207 936 9960. We are here to help ensure you are in full compliance with your Sponsor Licence obligations.

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