Understanding Employer Immigration Sponsorship: A Comprehensive Overview -2023

“As the economy faces labour and skills shortages, businesses are finding it increasingly necessary to recruit non-UK nationals from overseas to fill vacancies. However, to do so, employers must apply for an immigration sponsor license.”

For businesses going down this route it is important to consider at the outset the purposes for which they would use a sponsor license in practice and what they need to have in place to support a sponsor license application.


By far the most commonly used category of sponsor license is the Skilled Worker license. This route enables businesses to sponsor workers to come to or stay in the UK to carry out eligible jobs.

Multi-national businesses may also be interested in the Global Business Mobility: Senior or Specialist Worker and Graduate Trainee routes. These routes provide the option for workers at linked overseas entities within a group of companies to take on temporary work assignments within the UK.

Other types of sponsor license with narrower applications are also available.


One of the first things for a business to consider is the roles for which it intends to sponsor migrant workers. It will then need to focus on gathering the relevant supporting documents. The Home Office expects sponsor license applicants to 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. Usually, it is preferable to include all the entities on a single license as this removes the administrative burden of having multiple licenses, provided that the entity applying for the license has HR oversight across the group. If they do not, separate licenses may be required.

Businesses should also bear in mind the length of time which 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. Although a priority service is available, access to the priority service is subject to daily limits and is not guaranteed.

Applying for a sponsor license can bring additional scrutiny in relation to right to work checks. It can therefore be a helpful step 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.


Businesses in the hospitality sector have been experiencing difficulties recruiting for various roles in the UK. Whilst not all roles in the hospitality sector are eligible for sponsorship, there are some roles which are, subject to salary requirements being met – for example, chefs, chef- managers, head chefs and pastry chefs, restaurant and bar managers, catering managers and events organizers. Hospitality businesses are sometimes asked additional questions when applying for sponsor licenses, and certificates of sponsorship, and we can assist with these requests.


Businesses which 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.

Where a new business is an entity within a more established group, it may be possible for the new entity to be added to an existing group sponsor license. However, this process is not necessarily any quicker than applying for a separate sponsor license and the business will need to weigh up the options at an early stage.

source credit: Lex.com