Sponsor Licence Applications

If you want to employ a member of staff from outside of the United Kingdom, you need a sponsor licence to provide evidence that the migrant worker has a genuine job in the UK. It also acts as a pledge from you - the sponsor - that you will accept the responsibilities of sponsorship.

The immigration law team at JMW will help you to make an application for sponsor licences and provide ongoing support to ensure that you remain fully compliant with the stringent regulations.

To speak to a solicitor about making a sponsor licence, contact us by calling +44203 675 7600, or fill in our online enquiry form and we will get back to you.

How JMW Can Help

Our immigration solicitors manage the sponsor licence process for a number of employers. The reason they choose JMW is that we take the stress away from employers by handling the entire process from the start. This includes updating the Home Office’s Sponsor Management System as and when required.

For more information on our sponsor licence management services, visit our dedicated page.

There are currently two sub-categories under the sponsor licence scheme:

  • Worker licence
    This will let you employ people long-term or permanently and is split into:
    • Skilled worker
    • Intra-company visas
    • Minister of Religion
    • Sportsperson
  • Temporary worker licence
    This will let you employ people on a temporary basis and is split into:
    • Creative or sporting worker
    • Charity worker
    • Religious worker
    • Government-authorised exchange worker
    • International agreement worker
    • Seasonal worker

We issue certificates of sponsorship on behalf of employers for individuals who have been offered a job, as well as providing full assistance with obtaining entry clearance/leave to remain once a certificate of sponsorship has been issued.

You should get professional advice at an early stage to ensure that your systems are in place, and your application is properly prepared and lodged correctly with the Home Office. This will give you the best chance of success in the fastest possible timeframe.

If you'd like to learn more about applying for a sponsor licence and how we can help with the process, download our Guide to Employing Overseas Workers brochure.

An Employer’s Obligations

In applying for a licence and subsequently issuing a certificate of sponsorship (CoS) to migrant workers, your organisation accepts the need for compliance with a number of requirements, including:

  • Having effective HR systems
  • Adequate record-keeping and various reporting requirements
  • Regulatory compliance and co-operation with all Home Office requests


How long does a sponsor licence last?

The licence will last for four years, unless it is withdrawn by the Home Office, and must be renewed before expiry if you wish to continue the employment of the migrant worker.

What are the new immigration rules?

At the end of the Brexit transition period on 31st December 2020, the UK will leave the EU single market and the free movement of people between the UK and EU will no longer apply. 

The UK will therefore be free to set its own immigration rules pertaining to entry and residence of citizens from outside the British common travel area.

The government has considered whether the UK should adopt an ‘Australian-style’ points-based system as the ideal model for selecting migrants with the requisite attributes to enable the UK to flourish as an independent nation outside of the EU.

The Home Office will introduce a new employer-led points-based system under Appendix W ‘Workers’ whereby migrants will score points for the following:

  • A confirmed job offer with an approved Home Office Sponsor at RQF Level 3 (A-level)
  • A salary offer of at least £25,600 per annum (a reduction of the current salary level set under the Tier 2 (General) Skilled Worker category of at least £30,000)
  • A proficient understanding of the English language
  • Being able to ‘trade’ points for salary (minimum salary of £20,480) in exchange for the role being within the shortage occupation or a PhD-level role

The Home Office intend to scrap the cap on the number of people who are able to enter the UK under the skilled ‘worker’ route, as well as remove the resident labour market test, which are very welcome additions to the rules.

How will the new points-based system work?

Applicants would need to achieve at a total of 70 points with three fixed characteristics and others as ‘tradeable’ points.

These are as follows:


Points achieved

Tradeable characteristics

Offer of job by an approved sponsor



Job at appropriate skill level



Speaks English at required level



Salary of £23,040 - £25,599



Salary of £23,040 - £25,599



Salary of £25,600 or above



Job in a shortage occupation (as designated by the Migration Advisory Council)



Education qualification: PhD in a subject relevant to the job



Education qualification: PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job





Will there be a rise in labour costs due to the new immigration rules?

One of the biggest concerns raised by employers is the rise in labour costs as a result of the new immigration rules. In this respect, the Home Office has specified that employers will still be required to pay sponsored migrants the appropriate salary rate for their role as specified in the Home Office Standard Occupational codes of Practice. Therefore, where this is higher than the general salary threshold, the higher salary requirement would need to be met.

What are shortage occupations?

The Home Office will commission the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to produce a shortage occupation list covering all occupations within the skilled worker category, which be kept under review. Where an applicant scores extra points for working in a sector where there is a recognised skills shortage, they could be paid less than £25,600.

Will employers need to consider additional costs due to the new immigration rules?

It is likely that many employers will be worried by the new immigration rules, which will affect both EU citizens and those outside of the EEA, as consideration will need to be made into the significant cost implications of recruiting non-UK workers. The UK government will levy the Immigration Skills Surcharge and Immigration Health Surcharge on the same basis as now.

Will there be a category for low-skilled workers under the new immigration rules?

Perhaps the most contentious change in the immigration rules is the Home Office’s announcement that there will not be an immigration category for the ‘low-skilled’ workers, even on a temporary or transitional basis.

The MAC’s report concluded that there will already be sufficient labour in the UK from the 3.2 million European nationals that have already applied to remain in the UK under the European Settlement Scheme, as well as from non-EU citizens who enter the UK as dependants of skilled workers.

This will, however, cause concern for employers within the care, construction and hospitality sectors that rely heavily on the free-flow of labour from Europe.

Talk to Us

If you are looking for legal assistance with the sponsor licence application process, get in touch with JMW today. Simply call us on +44203 675 7600, or fill in our online enquiry form and we will get back to you.

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