Making a Sponsorship Licence Application – A Step-by-step Guide

Securing a Sponsorship License has become an increasingly vital endeavour in today’s globalised and competitive business landscape. Whether you are an employer seeking to hire foreign talent, a university welcoming international students, or an organisation fostering international partnerships, the benefits of holding a Sponsorship Licence are far-reaching. This powerful tool not only streamlines the process of bringing overseas individuals and entities into your fold but also serves as a catalyst for innovation, diversity, and growth.

You will usually need a Sponsorship Licence to employ an international employee. This includes citizens of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland who arrived in the UK after 31 December 2020.

Sponsorship Licence applications are a crucial aspect of international recruitment and employment. These licences allow organisations to bring skilled foreign workers to their home country for various purposes, such as employment, study, or cultural exchange. If your organisation is considering applying for a Sponsorship Licence, it is important to understand the process. In this article, we will guide you through the steps required to make a successful Sponsorship Licence application.

Step 1: Determine the Type of Sponsorship Licence You Need

The first step in the process is to identify the specific type of Sponsorship Licence you require. There are different categories of Sponsorship Licences, such as  ‘Workers’ for skilled or long-term employment, ‘Temporary workers’ for specific types of temporary employment, or ‘Student Sponsorship’ for sponsoring international students to study in the UK.

You can apply for a licence covering one or more types. Choose the appropriate category based on your organisation’s needs.

Step 2: Ensure Eligibility

Before starting the application process, it is essential to ensure that your organisation meets the eligibility criteria. Typically, this involves proving that your business is genuine, financially stable, and can fulfil the responsibilities of a sponsor.

Step 3: Gather Required Documents

Each category of Sponsorship Licence will have specific documentation requirements. Common documents include financial records, business licences, and job descriptions. Ensure that you have all the necessary paperwork ready before proceeding.

Step 4: Appoint Key Personnel

You will need to assign key personnel within your organisation to manage the Sponsorship process. This includes a Sponsor Licence Authorising Officer (AO), a Key Contact (KC), and a Level 1 User for the Sponsorship Management System (SMS).

Step 5: Complete the Online Application

You will need to complete an online application form, providing information about your organisation, your key personnel, and the specific category of Sponsorship for which you are applying.

Step 6: Pay the Application Fee

Sponsorship Licence applications often require a fee, which varies depending on the category for which you are applying and the size of your organisation.  At 4 October 2023 the licence application fee is announced to remain £536 for small or charitable organisations, and £1,476 for medium or large organisations. Ensure you pay this fee promptly to avoid delays in processing your application.

Step 7: Prepare for a Compliance Visit

The immigration authorities may conduct a compliance visit to assess your organisation’s suitability for a Sponsorship Licence. Be prepared for this visit by having all your documentation and processes in order.

Step 8: Wait for a Decision

After submitting your application, the authorities will review it and make a decision. This process can take up to eight weeks, depending on the category for which you are applying. However, it might be possible to expedite the process and get a decision within ten working days by paying an additional £500. It is crucial to be patient during this phase.

Step 9: Fulfil Sponsorship Responsibilities

If your Sponsorship Licence application is approved, you will have ongoing responsibilities to maintain your status. This includes reporting any changes in circumstances through SMS, keeping proper records, and ensuring compliance with Immigration Laws.

Step 10: Renew Your Sponsorship Licence

Sponsorship Licences typically have an expiration date. For example, if you are approved as an A-Rated sponsor, your licence will last for four years. It is crucial to keep track of this date and initiate the renewal process well in advance to avoid any disruptions to your Sponsorship activities.

Applying for a Sponsorship Licence can be a complex and time-consuming process, but it is a necessary step for organisations looking to bring foreign talent to their home country. By following the steps outlined in this guide and maintaining compliance with Immigration Laws, you can successfully obtain and manage a Sponsorship Licence for your organisation.

For further information about how we can help you with your Sponsorship Licence application, or about any other Immigration Law matter, please contact us.

Emel Dag Kilickaya is a solicitor and specialist in Immigration Law at Barker Gotelee Solicitors.

For more information on our range of legal services, please call the team on 01473 611211 or email