Business Sponsor Licences and Skilled Workers

Contact us now to arrange a chat with our business migration experts to find out more about becoming a sponsor licence holder.

Our business and corporate immigration experts advise a wide range of organisations, from multi-national corporations to local small businesses and start-ups.

Whether it’s long-term strategy or just a one-off immigration issue, our team can help. Some of the typical areas we advise businesses on include:

  • Sponsor licence acquisition, maintenance, and compliance;
  • Skilled Worker visas;
  • Permitted activities for visitors; and
  • Right to work checks.
  • All non-British, non-Irish citizens need a visa to work in the UK.
  • There are many different types of visa and many different methods of obtaining one. People may hold visas in their own right, or in connection with their family.
  • Some visas allow unrestricted UK labour market access. Others limit or prohibit work entirely.
  • If a worker already holds a valid UK visa with unrestricted work permission, any employer can freely employ them. In this scenario, the employer does not need to hold a sponsor licence and does not need to sponsor the worker.
  • Non-British, non-Irish candidates who do not have a UK visa will likely need to be sponsored in order to come to the UK to work. The UK’s flagship work-based visa is the Skilled Worker visa. This used to be known as a “Tier 2 (General)” visa, but was rebranded on 1 December 2020. 
  • For an individual to apply for a Skilled Worker visa, they must first be sponsored by a licensed employer. 
  • Skilled Worker applicants must be paid a minimum salary. Generally, this is £25,600 but the minimum can be lower for new entrants to the labour market or for certain roles.
  • Skilled Worker applicants who are not citizens of a majority-English-speaking country must be able to demonstrate that their English language level is above a certain threshold. They can do this by taking an approved examination, or by providing evidence of a suitable degree.
  • Not all job roles are eligible for sponsorship. The Home Office publishes a list of eligible occupations. It is vital to check that a role can be sponsored before proceeding further. 
  • To sponsor a foreign candidate, an employer must first apply to the Home Office for a sponsor licence. 

On average, it takes one to four weeks to prepare a sponsor licence application, then a further two to three weeks for a decision if you pay the Home Office for a priority service. If you do not opt for a priority service, the standard decision-making time is around eight weeks.

  • After becoming licensed, the employer can assign a Certificate of Sponsorship to the candidate. It can take a further few weeks for the candidate to apply for a Skilled Worker visa, receive their visa decision, and arrive in the UK.

Without a licence, an immediate start for a new foreign candidate is simply not possible unless the candidate has some other independent right to work in the UK.

Having a licence in place ensures you can respond quickly to international recruitment needs. Even if you do not intend to recruit now, it is prudent to get a sponsor licence in place so you can act quickly in future when you identify an international candidate for a particular role. 

I have found Shepherd and Wedderburn to be nothing but professional, honest and diligent. They have worked for me in various capacities and each time from partner to associate, I have found them to be experts in their field, efficient and easily accessible."
- Client quote, Legal 500

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Sporting body

Helping a prestigious sporting body obtain a sponsor licence to recruit a key strategic hire.

Video Game Company

Supporting a global video game company with multiple skilled worker visas.

Hospitality Chain

Carrying out a sponsor licence audit and training session for a leading hospitality chain to ensure sponsor record-keeping duties were being complied with.