From Application To Approval: The Journey Of Obtaining A UK Sponsorship Licence

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A sponsor licence, previously called a Tier 2 sponsor licence, is essential for companies based in the UK to hire overseas workers. Qualified international workers who reach the UK for employment with a valid work visa can get Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) from UK-based companies.

However, obtaining a UK sponsorship licence is not an easy task as the sponsorship licence application is relatively strict. Read on to know more about the sponsor licence application process, eligibility criteria, how long it takes to get the licence, and many more.


Eligibility Criteria For Obtaining A UK Sponsorship Licence

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In order to obtain a UK sponsorship licence, the businesses must meet the eligibility criteria. The main eligibility requirements for this permit are listed here:

Your business should be based in the United Kingdom and must be operating legally as per UK rules and regulations. If companies only want a UK Expansion Worker sponsorship licence, then they should possess a UK ‘footprint’ rather than a solid operating presence in the United Kingdom.

The UK-based companies should be operating as a Sole Trader, PLC, LLP or Ltd. It is important for companies to have Local Planning Authority’s authorization or proper planning permit that legalizes the company’s operation at the trading address.

In case if your company has numerous branches all over the United Kingdom, you can apply for a single licence which can be used for all the linked UK entities. However, it is also possible to apply for a separate licence for every branch.

Companies should have reliable key personnel (Authorising officer, Key contact, and Level 1 and 2 users) and solid HR systems. Generally, individuals are considered ineligible to be sponsors, except if the specific individual is recognized as a sole trader willing to sponsor an overseas worker.

When new startup companies that have been running for less than 18 months in the United Kingdom are applying for this licence, it is essential to show current corporate bank account proof with a Financial Conduct Authority or any UK bank registered with Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA).

Businesses that come under the following conditions do not pass the eligibility standards; thus, they can not apply for a sponsor licence.

  • The company’s sponsor licence was cancelled in the previous 12 months.
  • The company is involved in illegal or criminal activities related to immigration, money laundering, cheating, or any other unlawful acts.

Applying For UK Sponsorship Licence


Every year, numerous sponsor licence applications are subjected to rejection for a variety of reasons, like providing false or inadequate documents, exceeding the application time limit, being involved in illegal activities, etc.

Read on to know how to apply for sponsor licence and become a legal sponsor, given that the eligibility requirements are met.

Step 1:

Companies should consider the different types of tiers or categories to be added to the licence. They should check the eligibility and suitability for every category/tier.

Step 2:

Prepare the mandatory documents to send an online application. The documentation required for applying sponsor licence is listed below:

  • Proof of business registration with HMRC (Accounts Office Reference Number and PAYE)
  • Company’s bank statements
  • Company’s liability insurance from a recognized insurance provider (should be a minimum of £5 million)
  • VAT registration certificate
  • Franchise agreement
  • Evidence of the company’s physical location (lease, rent, or land ownership agreement)
  • Recent audited or unaudited accounts
  • Endorsement from a governing body

It should be noted that depending on the type of license the company is applying for, some additional documents might need to be submitted.

Step 3:


When submitting an online application, it is essential to pay licence fees, which differ based on the type of permit the company is applying for. Below is a summary of fees related to the UK sponsor licence.

Licence Type Fee for Small Businesses Fees for Medium or Large Business
Worker Permit £536 £1,476
Temporary Worker Permit £536 £536
Worker and Temporary Worker Permit £536 £1,476
Adding a new worker licence to the existing temporary worker permit No fees £940
Adding a new temporary worker licence to the existing worker permit No fees No fees


Step 4:

Submit the online application by scanning or taking clear images of the supporting documents and the submission sheet. It is necessary to email the hard copy of the documents and the submission sheet to the Home Office within 5 or fewer days. Ensure the files are in PNG, PDF, or JPEG format and are named with clear descriptions.

Step 5:

The majority of the applications are reviewed within 8 weeks or less. However, companies can get their application reviewed in 10 or fewer working days by paying £500. It is important to note that this fast approval is given to only a few companies that send their applications early. UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) might visit the company as a part of the approval.

Step 6:

If the UK sponsor licence is approved, it will be valid for 4 years from the date of issue and needs to be renewed later on. The expansion worker permit is only valid for 2 years, and companies who acquired this licence can not renew it after the given 2 year period.

However, if the application is rejected, companies should wait for 6 months, which is known as the cooling-off period, before submitting another application.

Bottom Line

In order to hire skilled overseas workers, it is mandatory for companies in the United Kingdom to acquire a sponsorship licence. Having a clean, genuine record of business without getting involved in any unlawful activities and submitting all the essential documents will make it easy for UK-based companies to acquire the UK sponsorship permit. Companies can hire legal representatives to handle all the documentation and application process from the start till the end.