A brief guidance to apply for a sponsor licence

A sponsor licence is a ‘permission’ which allows a UK business to sponsor non-EEA migrants wishing to work in the UK. Non-EEA migrants must be sponsored before they are able to enter and work in the UK unless they qualify for a visa in their own right, for instance, under the ancestry route or if they are the partner/spouse of a British citizen or a PBS migrant.

Please note that a sponsor licence is valid for 4 years, and the UK employer is able to renew this if needed. However, the sponsor licence can also be suspended or revoked by the Home Office beforehand for not complying with the sponsorship duties. This might happen after a visit from the compliance team. These visits are usually unannounced and are meant to assess the sponsor’s ability to satisfy their obligations in monitoring or reporting migrants ‘activities’.

Sponsor licences are tier specific and are available for:

  • Tier 2 (General)
  • Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer)
  • Tier 2 (Sportsperson)
  • Tier 2 (Ministers of Religion)
  • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker)
  • Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme)


What are the costs involved in applying for a sponsor licence?

1) The initial sponsor licence application fees depend on the size of the UK organisation. For a large company, the UKVI charges £1,476 whilst for a small company, the fee is £536.

Please note that under paragraph 382 of the Companies Act 2006, a large company can be defined as:

  • Turnover- More than £10.2 million
  • Balance sheet total- More than £5.1 million
  • Number of employees- More than 50


2) Renewing an existing sponsor licence- To be deemed ‘large’, the business needs to meet 2 of the criteria listed above.

3) Assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) : £199

In addition, the UK employer may also be required to pay the Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) for their non-EEA employees. The ISC also depends on the size of the company and the length of the visa, or if it is a change of employment whether the Tier 2 (G) visa was granted before or after April 2017. For the large company, the ISC fees are £1000 per year, whilst for a small company, it is £364 per year.

Key personnel and others involved with the UK organisation?

The responsibilities for the sponsor licence can be assigned to members of staff who are known as ‘key personnel’:

  • Authorising Officer
  • Key Contact
  • Level 1 User
  • Level 2 User


Please note that the Authorising Officer and the Key Contact do not have automatic access to the Sponsorship Management System (SMS), only Level 1 or Level 2 user are able to access to it.

What are the sponsor ratings?

Sponsor licences are either rated A or B

  • An A rating is awarded when the UK company can evidence that it is able to comply with its sponsor duties.
  • If the UK organisation is not able to meet the duties, the Home Office might downgrade the licence from A rating to B rating.


There are other reasons for the downgrading, for example:

1) Providing false statements or information;

2) Not provided information when required to;

3) The sponsoring company or migrants pose a threat to immigration control.

The Home Office will send the sponsor a letter explaining why the licence has been downgraded as well as provide an opportunity to respond within a deadline.

When can you renew your sponsor licence?

It will be important for the UK employer to renew their sponsor licence before it expires. The company must apply to renew their licence using the SMS account.

The Home Office will write to the employer 120 days prior to the expiry of the licence, and will remind the company to renew their licence 90 calendar days before the expiry date.

What will happen if your sponsor licence is revoked by the Home Office?

If the sponsor licence is revoked, the Home Office will:

  • immediately curtail the permission to stay in the UK of any migrants whom the UKVI believes were actively and knowingly involved (complicit) in the reasons for the revocation of the licence;
  • curtail the permission to stay in the UK of any other migrants who were not actively involved usually to 60 calendar days.


For more detailed information in relation to the supporting documents for sponsor licence application, please contact us.

Contact Our Immigration Team

For expert advice regarding any aspect of the sponsor licence application, please contact our immigration team on 0203 384 3075 or email [email protected]


The content of this article is for general use and information only. Since each case should be prepared on its own merit and in light of the constant amendments to the Immigration Rules, it is important to note that the information provided must not be relied upon unless Migra & Co has either given written consent or has been officially engaged in relation to a specific immigration matter. As a result, Migra & Co will take no responsibility for any damage, cost or loss resulting from relying on the information contained in this article, blog and website.