Sponsor Licence Application

Your organisation will need a sponsor licence to employ any overseas national or non-settled worker.

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Sponsor Licence

Your organisation will need a sponsor licence to sponsor any overseas national you wish to employ if they are not a ‘settled worker’ or do not otherwise have immigration permission to work for you in the UK. 

Sponsorship is a privilege, not a right. Significant trust is placed on a sponsor organisation and this means you must play your part in ensuring the immigration system is not abused.

Process overview

The organisation needs to ensure they meet all the eligibility criteria, have the required supporting evidence, have the key personnel identified, have the HR controls in place to ensure ongoing adherence and fully understand the sponsor duties before applying for the licence. City Legal can arrange a consultation with you and ensure you fully understand all of the above before applying to be a sponsor. 

Once you are ready, below are the broad steps involved in applying and maintaining the licence:

  • Submit the online application
  • Pay the fee based on size and type of organisation
  • Submit the supporting documents within 5 working days
  • Be ready for answering any additional questions or a pre-licence inspection

The organisation will be granted an A rating to begin with upon successful acceptance

  • Your nominated level 1 user will get access to SMS (Sponsor Management System)
  • You can request for CoS (Certificate of Sponsorship) in SMS
  • You can assign CoS to the identified individual in the SMS
  • The individual can make a visa application using the assigned CoS

Post this the organisation needs to ensure that the sponsored migrant workers are monitored effectively and any changes are reported through SMS within the prescribed timelines. 

City Legal can assist from the start of the process including the ongoing management of SMS and adherence to your sponsor duties. 

Organisation Suitability & Eligibility

The criteria to be met for a successful licencing process can be complex, as it is essential for the UKVI to ensure that the applying organisation is suitable and eligible.

  • Lawfully operating in the UK and intending to offer genuine employment to non-settled workers without penalising settled individuals;
  • Capable of undertaking sponsor licence duties and responsibilities in compliance with the Immigration Rules;
  • Able to carry out an adequate assessment of the overall profile of any identified migrants, ensuring that they are a competent person for the role assigned; 
  • Able to allocate a suitable role and pay a suitable rate in compliance with the codes of practice set out by the Home Office;
  • Able to evidence HR and/or recruitment systems in place to comply with strict reporting duties on sponsors

Sponsor Licence Routes

Whilst majority of the organisations use the skilled worker route under the sponsor licence, there are multiple other visa routes that can be applied under the sponsor licence for Workers, Temporary workers and Students. Below is the list of routes under worker and temporary worker you could opt for where eligible:


  • Skilled Worker
  • Ministers of Religion
  • International Sportsperson
  • GBM: Senior or Specialist Worker

Temporary Worker:

  • Religious Worker
  • Government Authorised Exchange
  • International Agreement
  • Creative Worker
  • Charity Worker
  • Seasonal Worker
  • GBM: Graduate Trainee
  • GBM: UK Expansion Worker
  • GBM: Secondment Worker
  • GBM: Service Supplier
  • Scale up

An organisation may opt for a licence under multiple routes they may be eligible for. 

Key Personnel

The organisation needs to confirm who would hold the key personal roles when applying for the licence. The roles can be held by the same individual if required. 

Below are the roles, responsibilities and requirements

Authorising Officer

The authorising officer must be the most senior person responsible for recruiting migrant workers and be a paid staff member or office holder (such as registered company directors or secretaries). The ultimate responsibility for the sponsor licence and the personnel who use the Sponsor Management System (SMS) is also with the same person. In addition, the Authorising officer must also ensure all sponsor duties are met, control the number of level 1 and 2 users, and be accountable for all sponsor’s actions. 

Key Contact

The key contact must act as the main point of contact for correspondence between the sponsor and the Home Office and does not automatically have access to SMS unless appointed as a Level 1 user. The key contact must be a paid member of staff, engaged by sponsor as an office holder or a can be a UK based legal representative. UK based representative can then liaise with Home Office regarding sponsor licence on behalf of organisation. Clients often instruct us to act as a key contact. 

Level 1 User 

The level 1 user undertake day to day activities on the SMS like adding/removing users, issuing CoS, requesting CoS, notifying the Home Office of changes in sponsor’s circumstances and reporting migrant activity etc. The initial level 1 user must be an employee, director or partner. Subsequent Level 1 users must be either a paid member of staff, an employee of a third party, the organisation contracted to provide HR functions or a UK-based representative. Clients often instruct us to act as a Level 1 user.

At least one Level 1 user must be a settled worker (subject to exception where Authorising Officer holds leave under specified category). The organisation must always have at least one Level 1 User, otherwise licence may be revoked.

Level 2 User 

The level 2 user may create and assign CoS and report migrant activity relating to those CoS. Level 2 users must be either a paid member of staff, an employee of a third party, the organisation contracted to provide HR functions or a UK-based representative.

How we can assist in your Sponsor Licence Application?

We have the expertise and knowledge of the entire sponsor licence process. Mistakes made in self-application can trigger a cooling period before reapplication or applications being rejected. This can cost your organisation time and money. 

We have a 100% success rate in sponsor licence applications and 4.9/5 in Trustpilot reviews making us result-oriented and client-focused at the same time. 

Upon instruction we can be your legal representatives for the applications and ensure a completely hassle-free experience for you. We will do all the grunt work so you can focus on what you do best – running your business. 

  • We understand your requirements and objectives and base our strategy around your requirements
  • We know the home office requirements and we keep ourselves updated with every small change they make so we can give our clients the best representation available
  • In our consultation, we review the company structure, the readiness to sponsor, and evidence that can be acquired. We will assist with ensuring the gaps identified are filled before we make the application. 
  • We would rather not make an application instead of making a half-baked application. 
  • We prepare and assist with submitting the application and also with providing the additional information required by home office. 
  • We operate on a fixed fee basis and no matter how complex the application gets or how many man hours our team has to spend – we stick to our word. 
  • We assist with preparing and we offer additional services as required for compliance with ongoing sponsor requirements or future sponsorships
  • We have the inhouse expertise and multiple teams specialising in various matter within the sponsor licence landscape
  • You will have access to a dedicated caseworker for any questions you may have at any time
  • We aways look out for how we can make your life easier and how we can save you costs. Our clients love it!
  • We are a client centric law firm, with every action and every process designed with your satisfaction at the heart of it. We will come through for you. 


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