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December 21, 2020

Tier 2 Sponsor Licence: Requirements to obtain the Licence

A Tier 2 Sponsor Licence established by UKVI is required by businesses seeking employees from outside the UK. There is a strict application process which will include a visit from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). Once granted, the tier 2 sponsor licence must be renewed annually for a fee.

There are two main types of tier 2 sponsor licences (excluding sportsperson and religious ministry licences), these are:

  • Tier 2 (General) sponsor licence; and
  • Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) sponsor licence


An employer can make an application for either sponsor licence or both simultaneously and they can also apply at different times.

The tier 2 ICT licence has an advantage over the tier 2 (General) licence in that if your company has an overseas department and wishes to transfer an employee from that country, it can usually do so far quicker. There is no need to advertise the vacancy in order to satisfy the “Resident Labour Market Test” and neither do you need a “Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship”. However, unlike a tier 2 (general) application, it will not lead to indefinite leave the remain in the UK.


Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT)

The RLMT ensures settled workers in the UK have the opportunity to apply for employment roles before they are offered to a migrant. In order to satisfy the RLMT the post must have been advertised for a minimum period of 28 days in two places listed in the sponsor guidance issue by UKVI, e.g. national newspapers, recruitment agencies, or online.  There are various exemptions and qualifying criteria which you can find on the website.


Business requirements for a Sponsor Licence

There is no requirement that the business needs to be of a particular size before applying for a tier 2 sponsor licence, or that it must have been trading for a certain amount of time. This means that start-up businesses are also eligible to apply. The business should already be legally operational, and there should be someone available and resident in the UK to deal with any queries from the Home Office UKVI. In practice, there will typically be one or two key personnel (e.g. an authorising officer, a key contact and a level 1 user) who have been appointed and working in the business. A level 1 user, oversees the day-to-day management of the Tier 2 sponsorship licence using the Sponsorship Management System (SMS).


Other requirements:

  • There should be a genuine need for the employee
  • The business HR systems can manage the sponsorship duties
  • The business is offering employment suitable for tier 2 skill requirements that meet the minimum salary guidelines


Applying for a Sponsor licence

To apply for Tier 2 Sponsor Licence, you will need to complete an online application form and submit it to the Home Office along with supporting documentation. It is extremely likely that immigration officials from the Home Office will visit and examine your HR systems to check for compliance and your eligibility for Tier 2 Sponsor Licence.


Documents required but not limited to are:

  • Recent bank statements for your business
  • Employers liability insurance documents from an authorised supplier of at least 5 million
  • Proof of business registration with HMRC including the PAYE and Accounting Office Reference Number
  • Evidence of ownership or lease of business premises
  • Latest audited/non audited accounts (signed)
  • Any mandatory evidence required from regulatory bodies specific to the business sector


There is a fee for a tier 2 sponsor licence application which depends upon the size of the business:

  • For a large sponsorship annual licence the fee is £1,476
  • For a small sponsorship annual licence the fee is £536


It generally takes approximately 8-10 weeks for the sponsor licence application to be processed, during which time you will probably be visited by the Home Office Compliance Officer who will undertake a pre-licence audit. Once you have obtained a tier 2 sponsor licence it is valid for four years.



Mann’s Solutions is international immigration law firm with offices in London, Hong Kong and Moscow and has expertise in offering UK Visas and Immigration by Investment services to high net worth individuals. Our immigration advisers regulated by OISC.

For further information or to discuss your personal circumstances in a private consultation with our immigration advisers in London Office, please contact us at or call +44 207 993 63 46.