Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence

Tier 2 Sponsorship License

To sponsor a person under the Points Based System, a company must hold a valid sponsorship licence. Without a sponsorship licence it is impossible to transfer existing employees to the UK, apply for extension or even to apply to employ someone who is outside of the European Economic Area.

Once granted, a sponsorship licence allows you to make an application to employ a person (or continue to employ a person).

Various monitoring duties are expected to be followed and reported to the Home Office visa the SMS system. Any and all changes no matter the scope and size need to reported.

We can help you make a successful application.

Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence

Companies in the UK that wish to employ skilled workers from outside the European Union (or more precisely the EEA and Switzerland) must apply for a sponsorship licence.

Companies in the UK that wish to employ skilled workers from outside the European Union (or more precisely the EEA and Switzerland) must apply for a sponsorship licence.

  • Unspent criminal convictions for immigration offence or certain crimes (for example, fraud or money laundering)
  • Any history of failing to carry out your sponsorship duties

UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) may conduct an announced (or usually an unannounced) visit to inspect your place of business. The purpose of this visit is to see if you are trustworthy and capable of carrying out your duties.

Types of licences

The licence you need depends on whether the workers you want to fill your jobs are:

Tier 2 - Skilled workers with long-term job offer

Tier 5 - skilled temporary workers

It is possible to acquire both.

Tier 2

This Tier is for skilled workers who you want to employ for a long-term or even permanently. It is split into:

  • General - this role will have to meet job suitability requirements
  • Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) - for multinational companies which need to transfer employees to the UK
  • Minister of Religion - for people coming to work for a religious organisation (for up to 3 years)
  • Sportsperson - for elite sportspeople and coaches who will be based in the UK

Tier 5

This Tier is for skilled workers who you want to employ on a temporary basis. It is split into:

  • Creative and Sporting - to work as a sportsperson (up to 1 year)
  • Charity worker - for unpaid workers (up to 1 year))
  • Religious Worker - for those doing preaching, pastoral and non-pastoral work (2 years))
  • Government Authorised Exchange - work experience (1 year), research projects or training, e.g. practical medical or scientific training (2 years) to enable short-term exchange of knowledge)
  • International Agreement - where the worker is coming to do a job which is covered by international law, e.g. employees of overseas governments)

Sponsorship management

You will need to appoint people within your business to manage the sponsorship process when you apply for a licence.

The main tool for this is the Sponsorship Management System (SMS)

The relevant roles are:

  • Authorising officer - a senior and competent person responsible for the actions of staff and representatives who use the SMS
  • Key Contact - your main point of contact with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)
  • Level 1 User - responsible for all day-to-day management of your licence using the SMS

The mentioned roles can be filled with just one person (or different people if you prefer).

It is also possible to appoint an optional level 2 user once you have your licence. This is an SMS user with more restricted access than a level 1 (for instance, they will not be able to withdraw a certificate of sponsorship).

You and your staffed will be checked whether anyone is suitable for these roles. You may not receive your licence if anyone involved with this licence has:

  • An unspent criminal conviction
  • Been fined by the UKVI in the past 12 months
  • Broken the law
  • Been a "key person" at a sponsor that had its licence revoked in the past 12 months
  • Failed to pay VAT or other excise duty

You and your staff must be:

  • Be based in the UK
  • Not a contractor or consultant contracted for a specific project
  • Not be subject to bankruptcy
  • Not have a history of non-compliance with sponsor requirements

To apply for a Sponsorship Licence you will need to provide at least 4 documents - unless:

  • You are a public body recognised by the UK government
  • You are a company listed on the London Stock Exchange Main Market

Documents must be originals or certified copies.

Your licence rating

You will get a n A-rated licence if your application is approved.

However, it is possible that your rating may be downgraded to a B-rating at a later stage if you do not meet your sponsorship duties.

In the event it does happen, you will not be able to issue new certificates of sponsorship until you have made improvements and upgraded back to an A-rating.

You will still be able to issue certificates to workers you already employ who wish to extend, or who are switching from a Work Permit.

You will be offered an "action plan" so you can get your A-rating back (£1476). If you choose to not go with an action plan, you will lose your licence.

If you obtain 2 B-rating in 4 years, you will be at risk of losing your licence.

You will not be allowed to appeal, but you can reapply. Furthermore, depending on the circumstances you might need to wait a certain period before you can reapply.

Before employing a migrant worker, you may need to advertise the position first, unless it is on the shortage occupation list. This is known as the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT).

You will need to conduct this for the following categories:

  • Tier 2 (General)
  • Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) or Tier 5 (Religious Workers) unless it is a non-essential position or involves living within a religious order (mon or a nun)
  • Tier 5 (Creative and Sporting) in the creative and entertainment sector, unless you can explain why the job cannot be done by a settled worker

You will need to place 2 different advertisements. One must be in job centre and the second can be in a newspaper, internet site and etc. (as long as it is freely accessible)

Each advert must run in the UK for 28 days in most cases, either continuously or in 2 stages. Each advert has to run for a total of 28 days and neither stage can be lees than 7 days.

You will need to show evidence on why you did not find a suitable British or European worker.

Your responsibilities

  • Check that your foreign workers have the necessary skills, qualifications or professional accreditations to do their jobs and keep copies of documents showing this
  • Only assign certificates of sponsorship to workers when the job is suitable for sponsorship
  • Inform the UKVI if your sponsored workers are not complying with the conditions of their visa

You must have HR systems in place that let you:

  • Monitor your employees" immigration status
  • Keep copies of relevant documents for each employee, including passport and right to work information
  • Track and record employees" attendance
  • Keep employee contact details up to date
  • Report to UKVI if there is a problem regarding your workers (e.g. your employee stops coming to work)

You must report any significant changes in your own circumstances within 20 working days, for example if you:

  • Stop trading or become insolvent
  • Substantially change the nature of your business
  • Are involved in a merge or take-over

You must make sure that foreign workers who are under 18 have suitable care arrangements for their:

  • Travel to the UK
  • Arrival in the UK
  • Living arrangements in the UK

Frequently asked Questions - Tier 2 Sponsorship licence

How long is the sponsorship valid

If you are not downgraded or your licence is being revoked, it will be valid for 4 years. After that it must be extended.

Can I employ Tier 4 students with this licence

Tier 4 students are given the right to work part-time (20hours) they will not need a Tier 2 sponsor.

My licence was downgraded what should I do

You will be issued an "action plan", you must send a response to the Home Office within 10 days or your licence will be revoked.

I require both Tier 2 and Tier 5 licences can I apply for both

Yes, you require for both type of licences if you need to do so.

What is a licence rating

There are two type of licences: A-rating (the one you get if there are no problems, or a B-rating (indicating that issues must be addressed)

When can I employ a migrant worker

If his job description is not on the shortage list you will need to pass the RLMT which is essentially a 28 days advertisement for the position.

I have received applicants for a job position from European and British citizens. How can I turn them down

You can turn them down but it has to be a good reason to do so. As you may be required to accept someone who is not a migrant worker.

What are you getting?

EXTENSION extensions after 4 years

EMPLOYMENT employ non-European skilled workers


  • Initially no limit to how many people you wish to invite
  • Invite a skilled worker outside of the European Union
  • Licence is granted for 4 years

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