Employer Guidance – UK Visa Sponsorship

Most businesses wishing to employ someone from outside the UK to work for them will need to obtain a sponsor licence, as well as fulfil certain obligations. A licenced sponsor is required for many UK work visas, including the Senior or Specialist Worker Visa, Skilled Worker Visa and UK Expansion Worker Visa.

Applicants for a licence to sponsor employees must not have any unspent criminal convictions for crimes such as fraud, money laundering or immigration offences, nor can they have had a previous sponsor licence revoked within the previous 12 months. They must also have suitable processes and personnel in place to ensure that the responsibilities of a sponsor are being met.

If you or your business are considering applying for a licence to sponsor applicants for UK work visas, our qualified UK immigration solicitors are on hand to help you understand what options are best for you.

Responsibilities of a UK visa sponsor

Before issuing a licence to sponsor applicants for work visas in the UK, the Home Office will need to be satisfied that any employer applying for a licence has demonstrated that they are able to fulfil certain responsibilities. These include:

  • ensuring that foreign workers have the correct skills, accreditations or qualifications, and that documents to prove this are kept on record
  • only sponsoring workers for jobs which are eligible for UK work visas
  • informing the Home Office if workers they have sponsored are not abiding by the conditions of their visa
  • maintaining proper HR processes to monitor employees’ right to work in the UK, their attendance, and contact details
  • reporting any changes to the business—including a takeover or insolvency—to the Home Office
  • abiding by special rules for the sponsoring of workers under the age of 18

The Home Office can withdraw, suspend or downgrade a sponsor licence at any time if they determine that a sponsor is not fulfilling these responsibilities.

Choosing the right licence

Employers looking to apply for a sponsor licence should decide whether they want to be able to sponsor ‘workers’ (for long-term or skilled work) or ‘temporary workers’ (for specific temporary employment). It is possible to get a licence that permits you to sponsor workers in one or both categories.

‘Worker’ licences are usually intended for sponsoring people doing skilled work, whether short- or long-term. Employers can apply for a ‘worker’ sponsor licence if they want to sponsor individuals applying for:

‘Temporary worker’ licences allow the sponsoring of individuals on a temporary basis, and are appropriate for applicants for:

Sponsors will be informed by the Home Office for which specific route/s they are permitted to sponsor applications.

Application process and fees

Applications for a sponsor licence should be accompanied by sufficient supporting documentation, the amount and nature of which will vary depending on the specific type/s of visa you intend to sponsor. You may wish to speak to a qualified UK immigration solicitor to get the best possible understanding of what you will need and what type of sponsor licence is best for your company.

The fee for submitting a sponsor licence application varies depending on the type of licence and the size of the organisation applying.

Licence Type Fee for small/charitable sponsor Fee for medium/large sponsor
Worker £536 £1476
Temporary Worker £536 £536
Worker & Temporary Worker £536 £1476
Add Worker to Temporary Worker licence £0 £940
Add Temporary Worker to Worker licence £0 £0

Small sponsors usually have 50 or fewer employees, a turnover of less than £10,000,000 or total assets worth less than £5,000,000. Charitable sponsors must be registered in the UK unless exempt/excepted, or certain recognised religious charitable organisation.

Sponsors may also have to pay an ‘immigration skills charge’ for sponsorship of individuals applying for a Skilled Worker Visa or a Senior or Specialist Worker Visa if the applicant is applying from outside the UK and intending to work for more than 6 months, or they are applying from inside the UK. For small or charitable sponsors, the immigration skills charge is £364 for the first 12 months and £182 for each additional six months. For medium or large sponsors, the chrage is £1000 for the first year and £500 for every additional six months.

Demetris Demetriou

Demetris is a dual-qualified lawyer in the UK (Solicitor) and Cyprus (Advocate) with 10+ years of experience in UK immigration. He completed his legal studies at University College London and City University London. Over the course of his career, he held key roles as Head of Immigration at Legal 500 firms and within the Big4, overseeing teams of 15+ fee earners handling 2000+ applications annually.

Demetris went on to co-establish his firm in London and continues to offer innovative solutions and strategic immigration planning to multinationals, SMEs, and private clients.

He personally represented 1500+ clients in 30+ visa routes including investors, entrepreneurs, innovators, sole representatives, students, family visas, global talent, UK ancestry, administrative reviews and appeals. Demetris has managed corporate relocations, conducted immigration law training and implemented post-Brexit immigration policies for corporate clients.

Demetris has been featured in various events and publications focusing on UK immigration, notably at the Cambridge Network, the Westminster Policy Forum and most recently at DGEMS, a global mobility summit hosted by Forbes India.

If you would like to discuss your UK immigration matter or have any questions about your options for immigrating to the UK, you can book a consultation here.

Tatiani Preifelt

Tatiani has a wealth of expertise in global mobility and corporate immigration. Her ample skills were acquired within leading immigration practices including three out of the Big4 firms in both the UK and Sweden. Tatiani went on to co-establish her firm in London where she continues to advise clients predominantly in corporate, business and skilled work migration.

Having personally relocated to 10 different countries, Tatiani understands the importance of an expedient and successful immigration process and takes pride in delivering a seamless experience to her clients as well.

Over the course of her career, she has assisted over 500 individuals and businesses to obtain the appropriate visa permits in the UK.

Her awarded academic work at The University of Oxford, The London School of Economics, and at The Geneva University is in the fields of Political Science, International Human Rights Law, and Global Migration Governance.

She regularly provides immigration training and has recently participated as a speaker and panellist at DGEMS 2023, a global mobility summit hosted by Forbes India.

If you would like to discuss your UK immigration matter or have any questions about your options for immigrating to the UK, you can book a consultation here.