How Do You Get a Sponsor Licence?


What is UK Skilled Worker Visa Sponsorship?

For a business or organisation to employ workers from outside the UK they must hold a Sponsor Licence.

The sponsor licence essentially gives them the power to hire anyone they need from non-UK countries. This means getting skilled workers who want to come and live and work in the UK.

Workers can come to the UK on a skilled worker visa with a sponsor. They can bring dependants such as a partner or children on the visa making it a good choice for families wanting to move to and work in the UK.

All forms of UK-based work are considered under this licence. This includes unpaid activities that are going to be carried out by anyone from the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.

What are the Requirements of your New Employee?

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for a skilled worker visa the following must apply to your employee;

  1. Knowledge of English – you must be able to speak, read and write English, which you will usually be asked to prove. Your English should be at level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale.
  2. Work for an employer that has been approved by the Home Office.
  3. Have a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ – this will be given to you by your employer and should entail what job role you have been offered in the UK.
  4. The job must be on the list of eligible occupations.
  5. Paid at least minimum wage- this also depends on the job role. The minimum can also be based on the minimum ‘going rate’ for your specific job role in the UK.

What is a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)?

The Certificate of Sponsorship is the documentation that you will receive after becoming a sponsor. This then means that you can hire a skilled worker from a non-UK country fully approved by the Home Office. Please note that this is an electronic document, not a physical one.

You must have a separate Certificate of Sponsorship per person you employ on a skilled worker visa. Each certificate has a unique number assigned to it.

Next, you should assign a certificate to your worker and they can then use the number that individually identifies it to apply for their skilled worker visa. The application for the skilled worker visa must go through within three months. They should not apply three months before the start date on the sponsorship certificate.

How do you Apply for a Sponsorship Licence?

As a UK employer applying for a sponsor licence, these are the steps you should follow:

  1. Check if your business is eligible.
  2. Check if the foreign worker’s job is suitable for sponsorship.
  3. Choose the type of licence that you want to apply for. This will depend on what type of worker you want to sponsor.
  4. Decide who will manage sponsorship within your business.
  5. Apply online and pay the fee.

What do you need?

You need to make sure you have all of the correct documentation for your business before you get started. Read about the documents you’ll need in our blog post ‘What Documents Do You Need for Sponsorship?’

What are the Requirements of a Sponsor Licence?

It is important that you fulfil the requirements you need to meet before you consider applying for your sponsor licence. This will all be checked. To help you we have compiled a list of things that should not apply to anyone in your UK business.

Nobody in your business should:

  • Spend most of their time outside of the UK.
  • Be subject to a bankruptcy restriction.
  • Have a history of non-compliance with sponsorship requirements.
  • Have broken the law.
  • Have been reported to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).
  • Have failed to pay VAT or other excise duty.
  • Be a contractor or consultant contracted for a specific project.
  • Have unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences or certain other crimes, such as fraud or money laundering.
  • Had a sponsor licence revoked in the last 12 months.

How Much Does a Sponsorship Licence Application Cost?

The sponsor licence will have fees throughout the process, these fees are less for smaller businesses than for medium and larger ones. Small businesses only pay £536 for a sponsor licence, medium to large businesses, however,  pay more than double this at £1476. Charities also pay the lower fee of £536.

There are other factors that come into the pricing however that can slightly change it.

Prices for Certificates of Sponsorship –

Type of licence

Cost per certificate

Worker (except workers on the International Sportsperson visa)


Temporary Worker


International Sportsperson – where the certificate of sponsorship is assigned for more than 12 months


International Sportsperson – where the certificate of sponsorship is assigned for 12 months or less


There are contingencies about how much your sponsor licence will cost. Firstly, what type of sponsor licence are you getting? What size is your business? Are you a charity?

Whether you are hiring either a worker or a temporary worker the fee for charities and small businesses is £536. If you are adding a worker licence to an existing temporary worker licence (or conversely) there is no fee.

For medium and larger sponsors it is a bit more complicated (refer to the table below).

Type of Sponsor Licence

Fee for small or charitable sponsors

Fee for medium or large sponsors




Temporary Worker



Worker and Temporary Worker



Add a Worker Licence to an existing Temporary Worker Licence

No fee


Add a Temporary Worker Licence to an existing Worker Licence

No fee

No fee

If you are assigning a certificate of sponsorship to someone that is on a Skilled Worker or Senior or Specialist Worker visa, you might also need to pay the immigration skills charge.

How Long Does it Take to get a Sponsor Licence?

The sponsor licence itself usually takes around eight weeks to be processed, sometimes longer if there are any delays.

If you are in a hurry you could be able to pay an additional fee to speed up your application process. This fee is £500 and is recommended to you if your business is desperate for extra support and/or you already have an employee ready for the job.

Please note that this only speeds up the process of the sponsor licence not the actual visa process for the employee. This wait is currently as long as three months due to delays at the Home Office.

How Long is a Sponsor Licence Valid for?

When you get your sponsor licence it will then usually be valid for 4 years, unless it is surrendered or revoked before that time.

There are, however, different types of sponsorship licences as well. Some are more permanent and others temporary.

The different types of sponsorship licences, include:

  • Skilled Worker
  • Minister of Religion or Religious Worker
  • International Sportsperson
  • Creative Worker
  • Charity Worker
  • Scale-Up Worker
  • International Agreement
  • Government Authorised Exchange
  • Secondment Worker
  • Service Supplier (up to 1 year)
  • UK Expansion Worker
  • Seasonal Worker
  • Graduate Trainee (Global Business Mobility)

Can you Lose your Sponsor Licence?

Sponsor licences operated on a rating system of ‘A’ or ‘B’.

When you get your sponsor licence you will initially be given an ‘A’ rating. Your organisation will be in the register of sponsors and this is when you can start assigning Certificates of Sponsorship to people.

If you later do not meet the requirements that are expected of you as a sponsor you will lose your ‘A’ rating and receive a ‘B’.

To get your ‘A’ rating back you must pay a fee of £1,476 to complete the ‘action plan’ provided by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). If this fee is not paid in 10 working days you lose your sponsor licence.

When you have a ‘B’ rating you cannot be granted any more Certificates of Sponsorship until improvements are made and you come back up to an ‘A’ rating.

Synergy Immigration Solutions

We highly recommend that you choose to use a specialist such as Synergy Immigration Solutions to help manage this process for you to keep it easy

We have years of experience and love to help individuals submit many different types of visa applications.

Click here to contact Synergy Immigration Solutions and submit your query.

Or, email or call 020 315 05359.

We will get back to you within 24 hours.

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