Bishop & Sewell

How do I obtain a Sponsor Licence / Sponsor Licenses?

In broad terms, to obtain a sponsor licence you must:

  • Check to see if your business is eligible.
  • Choose the type of licence you want to apply for.
  • Appoint someone from your organisation to manage the Sponsor Licence – these are known as the ‘Sponsor Management Roles’


To be eligible to get a licence you cannot have:

  • Unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences or certain other crimes.
  • Any history of failing to carry out your sponsorship duties.

You will also be required to put systems in place to monitor your sponsored employees. The Home Office will review your application and may visit your premises to conduct an audit.

Types of licence

The licence you need depends on whether the workers you want to fill your jobs are:

  • Tier 2- Skilled workers with long-term job offers or
  • Tier 5 – Skilled temporary workers

You can apply for a licence covering either tier or both.

The Tier 2 licence also covers the situation where you want to transfer to the UK an employee who works for an overseas, related business such as your parent company.

Sponsor Management Roles

The sponsor application requires you to assign staff to perform certain duties, some or all of whom can have access to the Sponsor Management System (SMS) when your licence is granted.

To be assigned any of the roles, an employee must;

  • Be permanently based in the UK (for the duration of the period that they need to perform the role for).
  • Meet the requirements on criminal convictions.
  • Be a paid member of staff or engaged by you as an office holder.

There are three roles that you or an employee must perform (these can be carried out by the same person).

Authorising Officer

  • The most senior person responsible for the actions of staff and representatives who use the SMS.
  • The Authorising Officer is responsible for deciding how many staff need to have access to the SMS and what level of permission they should have.

Key Contact

  • Your main point of contact with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).

Level 1 User

  • Your level 1 user is responsible for all day-to-day management of your licence using the SMS.

What happens after the Sponsor Licence is granted?

If your application is successful, your licence will be valid for 4 years and will enable you to issue Certificates of Sponsorship which can be used by potential employees to apply for the appropriate visas.

Certificate of Sponsorship

The certificate is a unique reference number (accessed electronically via the Sponsorship Management System) which a migrant must use to apply for their visa.

Types of Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS)

There are two types of CoS; restricted and unrestricted, it is very important that employers understand the difference between the two. A mistake made in respect of using the wrong type of CoS can lead to loss of a Sponsor licence. We can advise further on the distinction between the two types.

How can we help?

Obtaining, managing and renewing a sponsorship licence is a very complex area of immigration law. The Government website has lots of information on the subject, but it can be a daunting prospect complying with hundreds of rules, regulations and conditions that affect applications. As stated, the Home Office’s Sponsorship Guidance currently runs to over 200 pages.

Our experienced immigration lawyers can provide clear, bespoke advice on the best immigration solution to your business needs.

We can prepare your Sponsor Licence application and provide an on-site ‘mock audit’ to assist you in complying with the Home Office’s regulations.

We can also ensure you understand how to properly carry out the mandatory ‘Right to Work’ checks; help you to challenge a decision to suspend or revoke your Sponsor Licence and challenge any Civil Penalty Notice the Home Office might serve on you.

Sponsorship is an onerous responsibility that carries significant consequences if you get it wrong. Our team of immigration specialists will use our years of experience to effectively and swiftly guide you through the process.

If you’d like to discuss matters further, please email our Business Immigration team on or complete the enquiry form on this page.

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