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Sponsor Licence Applications are for employers who want to employ EU and non-EU nationals in the new Skilled Worker or Intra-Company Transfer routes from January 2021. 

Ensuring the recruitment and retention of skilled persons is key to the success of businesses. Our immigration solicitors represent both employers and employees to enable skilled workers to come to or remain in the UK to work in Tier 2 and Tier 5.

Applying for a Sponsor Licence

The new work visas replace Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer). They have similar features in requiring employers to have a Sponsor Licence from the Home Office to employ a worker.

To apply for a Sponsor Licence, an employer must show that they are an established business in the UK and have appropriate systems in place to monitor sponsored workers.

An application for a Sponsor Licence is made online. A fee is payable which depends on the size of the organisation. The application is usually considered within 8 weeks. If an employer already holds a Sponsor Licence in Tier 2 then this will enable them to employ a new Skilled Worker and/or Intra-Company Transfer licence.

Our experienced Business Immigration solicitors can advise on the requirements to be met and assist with making a Sponsor Licence application.

Sponsoring Skilled Workers

The skill level is lowered from RQF Level 6 to RQF Level 3 (equivalent to A level) and the salary threshold for most jobs reduced from £30,000 to £25,600 so making a wider range of occupations now eligible for a work visa.

There is now no need for an employer to undertake a recruitment search ahead of sponsoring a Skilled Worker. Nor is there any cap on the number of certificates of sponsorship that can be issued as there was previously.An employer must issue a certificate of sponsorship to a worker which confirms that their job meets the required skill and salary level. If a worker is in the UK then a certificate of sponsorship can be assigned immediately. If a worker is outside the UK then an application must be made for a Defined certificate of sponsorship.

A fee is payable when assigning the certificate of sponsorship. The Immigration Skills Charge may also be payable. An Eemployers can also certify maintenance which means that the worker does not have to show funds themselves. The worker can then apply for a visa or leave to remain to be employed by the sponsor in the UK.

Workers can bring their dependants to the UK.

This route can lead to settlement (Indefinite Leave to Remain) for workers after 5 years.

Sponsoring Intra-Company Transfer workers

The Intra-Company transfer route enables established staff and Graduate Trainees to be transferred by a parent company outside the UK to work for a UK entity.

Established staff can be transferred to undertake a job at RQF Level 6 or above (degree level). They must have worked for the parent company outside the UK for a minimum of 12 months unless they are high earners (over £73,900 per year). They must be paid at least £41,500 per year.

Graduate Trainees can be transferred as part of a graduate training programme for a managerial or specialist role. They must have worked for the parent company outside the UK for a minimum of 3 months. They must be paid at least £23,000 per year.

This route enables employers to bring workers to the UK for up to 5 years in any 6 year period or up to 9 years in any 10 year category for high earners.

Workers can bring their dependants to the UK.

This route does not lead to settlement for workers.

Further information about employing people from outside the UK from 1 January 2021 is available here. We can advise on sponsoring workers and the steps to be taken to ensure that an application is successful.

Compliance issues

When issuing a Sponsor Licence the Home Office is delegating the monitoring of sponsored workers to the employer.

They require employers to operate the Sponsor Licence in accordance with their guidance, including keeping records of sponsored workers’ attendance and contact details and reporting any changes in the employment such as job title, duties or termination to them.

The Home Office have wide powers to enter licence holders’ premises and undertake compliance visits to ensure that the sponsor duties are being followed. They can issue sanctions for non-compliance including revoking a Sponsor Licence.

We have experience in advising employers on compliance issues and in successfully challenging action to revoke Sponsor Licences. We can advise on taking necessary steps to protect your business from compliance issues including undertaking audits.

The team can also advise on other aspects of business immigration including:

Civil Penalties
Work visas
Start-ups, Innovators, Investors and Entrepreneurs

If you’d like some more advice about sponsoring skilled workers you can talk to us by telephone on 0191 232 9547 (ext. 2307) or contact us by email at immigration.enquiries@davidgray.co.uk.

Alternatively, you can book an appointment and visit us at one of our North East offices:


56 Westgate Road, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 5XU

South Shields:

142 Fowler Street, South Shields, Tyne & Wear, NE33 1PZ

What is a Sponsor Licence?

An employer (of any size) needs to have a Sponsor Licence issued by the Home Office in order to employ overseas nationals to work in the UK.

How do I get a Sponsor Licence?

An application must be made online to the Home Office giving information about the employer’s organisation. Documents must then be provided to demonstrate that they are an established business in the UK and are able to take on the responsibilities of operating a Sponsor Licence.

How much does a Sponsor Licence cost?

A fee is payable to the Home Office which is dependent on the size of the business.

How long does a Sponsor Licence application take?

Most applications are decided within 8 weeks. A priority service is available for an additional fee.

How long does a Sponsor Licence last?

A Sponsor Licence is granted for 4 years and can then be extended.

The David Gray Sponsor Licences Team

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