Obtaining an Immigration Sponsor License for UK Businesses


Labour and skills shortages are being experienced across the UK economy, and businesses are increasingly looking to recruit non-UK nationals from overseas to fill vacancies. To do this, employers need to apply for an immigration sponsor license. In this article, we will explore the different options available for sponsor licenses and provide practical tips for businesses looking to apply.

  1. Sponsorship LicensesThe Options
    The Skilled Worker license is the most commonly used category of sponsor license, which enables businesses to sponsor workers to come to or stay in the UK to carry out eligible jobs. Additionally, multi-national businesses may be interested in the Global Business Mobility: Senior or Specialist Worker and Graduate Trainee routes. Other types of sponsor licenses with narrower applications are also available.
  2. Practical Tips on Sponsorship Applications
    One of the first things businesses should consider is the roles for which they intend to sponsor migrant workers. They should gather the relevant supporting documents, explain which roles they are interested in filling with sponsored workers, including the skills, experience, and qualifications required for the role and any specific candidates who have been identified. Without this information, the Home Office could refuse the application or refuse to grant certificates of sponsorship required for prospective employees to apply for a work visa.

If there are multiple corporate entities within the group that employ staff, consideration should be given to the best way of structuring the sponsor license and which group entities should be included. Businesses should also bear in mind the length of time it can take for a sponsor license and subsequent sponsored visas to be granted. The Home Office’s target period from application to outcome is 8 weeks.

Applying for a sponsor license can bring additional scrutiny in relation to right to work checks. It can be helpful to carry out a right to work audit of current employees ahead of any sponsor license application to make sure that current processes and records are in order.

  1. Focus – Hospitality Sector
    Businesses in the hospitality sector have been experiencing difficulties recruiting for various roles in the UK. Some roles in the hospitality sector are eligible for sponsorship, subject to salary requirements being met. Hospitality businesses are sometimes asked additional questions when applying for sponsor licenses and certificates of sponsorship, and we can assist with these requests.
  2. Focus – Start-Ups and New Businesses
    Businesses that have been operating in the UK for less than 18 months on the date of the sponsor license application often find it difficult to provide the necessary supporting documents. If immigration sponsorship is part of a new business’ recruitment strategy, it is important to give some thought to the supporting evidence required for the sponsor license application at the outset. It may be possible for a new entity within a more established group to be added to an existing group sponsor license, but the business will need to weigh up the options at an early stage.

Obtaining an immigration sponsor license is an essential step for businesses looking to recruit non-UK nationals from overseas. By considering the different options available and following practical tips for the application process, businesses can successfully navigate the process and recruit the talent they need.