Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence: General Requirements

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Any UK based company that wants to employ a non-EU or non-EEU Tier 2 visa applicant must hold a Tier 2 Sponsorship licence.

There are many types of sponsorship licences. The most common one is the Tier 2 General licence, which is the route most skilled workers have to use to enter the UK.

A foreign worker cannot simply apply to come and work in the UK; they need a job offer from a UK-based employer with a sponsorship licence.

The employer needs to apply to the Home Office to get a Tier 2 Sponsorship licence. The licence is valid for 4 years and must be renewed before it expires.

Once a company obtains a sponsorship licence, it can issue certificates of sponsorship (CoS) which is required as part of the applicant’s immigration application under Tier 2 of the points-based system.

Requirements for an employer to obtain a sponsorship licence

 To obtain a sponsorship licence, the employer must be eligible and suitable to fulfil its sponsor duties.

 To be eligible for a sponsorship licence, the employer must provide evidence to show that it is a genuine employer that is lawfully trading in the UK.

The Home Office will assess the employer to decide if the company is honest, dependable reliable, and capable of meeting the responsibilities expected of a sponsor. The following will be taken into account when assessing the suitability criteria:

  • Does the sponsor have the human resources and recruitment systems in place to fulfil their sponsorship duties?
  • Can the Home Office visit unannounced to check that the sponsor is complying with its duties? Is there a genuine vacancy that meets the criteria of the category that the employer is applying for?
  • Do any key personnel in the business have an unspent criminal conviction for a relevant offence?
  • Any evidence of previous non-compliance to sponsorship duties by the sponsor.

Supporting documents

 Employers who want to apply for a sponsorship licence must provide certain documents to establish their credibility. The list of supporting documents is set out in Table 1-4 in Appendix A of the Guidance for Sponsors.

In most cases, the employer must provide at least 4 documents from the list of possible documents. The required documents depend on the category of sponsorship the employer is applying for.

For Tier 2 General sponsorship, the employer must provide the following information, as well as at least 4 documents from Table 1-4.

  • The reason for applying for a sponsor licence (usually providing evidence of a skill shortage that needs to be filled).
  • The sector that you operate in.
  • Opening/operating hours.
  • A current hierarchy chart showing the owner, director, and board members of the business. If you have less than 50 employees, a list of all employees’ names and titles.
  • Details of the vacant job that the certificates of sponsorship will be assigned to, including the job title, the standard occupational classification code, duties, where the job fits in the hierarchy chart, minimum salary for the job, skills, experience, and qualifications required for the job.
  • If a specific person has already been identified for the position, evidence of how the person was identified as the most suitable for the job. If the person was identified through a recruitment process, copies of the advertisements should be included, details of all applicants, and the reasons why they were not suitable for the job. You also need to state whether the person is already working for you.
  • If a person is already identified for the job, and the employer wishes to assign the CoS to that person, the employer must provide the persons, full names, date of birth, nationality, current immigration status, current job title and duties, and 3 monthly payslips, if applicable.

Table 4 then provides a list of other documents that could be provided if the employer has not found 4 documents in Table 1-3 yet. Table 4 includes documents to show evidence of the following:

  • Employer’s liability insurance cover for at least £5m from an authorised insurer.
  • Listing on the London Stock Exchange Main or AIM markets.
  • Registration with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) as self-employed, or as an employer to pay PAYE & National Insurance.
  • An audited annual financial report showing the name of the accountant that must be registered with an accredited accounting body.
  • Latest acknowledgment of a company tax return – CT 620, or completed CT 600 tax return and the CT 603 notice.
  • Certificate of VAT registration.
  • Submitting returns to HM Revenue & Customs.
  • Recent corporate bank statements and/or a letter from the bank stating dealings with the bank.
  • Ownership or lease of the business premises.

From January 2021 EU nationals not already living in the UK, might also need sponsorship.


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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 lawyers regulated by OISC (Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner).

For further information or to discuss your personal circumstances in a private consultation with our immigration lawyers in London Office, please contact us at enquiries@manns-solutions.com or call +44 207 993 63 46.