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Employers Licensing and Sponsorship | Sponsoring Migrants to the UK

All employers who wish to recruit foreign national workers have been required to register for a Sponsorship Licence with the United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA). Registration is mandatory if you wish to be eligible to recruit from the foreign labour pool.

ICS Legal is fully qualified to manage all of your Points Based System employer licensing and sponsorship requirements. To find out how we can ensure the success of your organisation’s application for sponsorship licensing and registration, please contact us by way of e-mail to or simply call us today on 0207 237 3388.

Before an employer can sponsor a migrant worker a Sponsorship Licence must be approved in advance by the UKBA. Under the point based system, only licensed sponsors will be eligible to issue potential migrant employees with a Certificate of Sponsorship. Migrants seeking to come to the UK will need to obtain entry clearance - a Certificate of Sponsorship issued by a licensed employer before an entry clearance application can be made. Furthermore, each potential migrant worker must also satisfy the points based assessment criteria for the visa category under which they are applying.

Please note that a potential employee’s Certificate of Sponsorship does not in any way guarantee or secure their visa if the supporting documentation for an application cannot be verified independently. Sponsor is a UK based organisation that wishes to employ an overseas applicant in the UK. For the purposes of the Tier System, an overseas applicant is a national of a country outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland.

In order to sponsor applicants, an employer will need to have registered with the UK Border Agency as a Licensed Sponsor. For this registration to be accepted, the employer will need to meet certain requirements for the particular category of Tier 2 and accept certain responsibilities to help with immigration control.

The Sponsor will need to assign a Certificate of Sponsorship before an applicant can apply for leave to enter the UK or remain in the UK under Tier 2. The Certificate of Sponsorship will act as an assurance that the applicant is able to undertake a particular job and intends to do so.

Sponsorship Duties

The Sponsor has a number of record keeping and reporting duties for the applicants that it sponsors. Record Keeping Duties: Keeping copies of the applicant's passport or UK immigration status document and contact details.

Reporting Duties:

The UK Border Agency must be informed of the following:

  1. If a sponsored migrant does not turn up for his or her first day of work.

  2. If a sponsored migrant is absent from work for more than 10 working days, without the sponsor's reasonably granted permission.

  3. If a sponsored migrant's period of engagement is ended as a result of the migrant resigning or being dismissed.

  4. If any registration that the sponsored migrant needs to work in the UK (such as with a governing body) is ended.

  5. If the sponsor stops sponsoring the migrant for any other reason (eg if the migrant moves into another immigration route that does not require a sponsor).

  6. If there are any significant changes in the migrant's circumstances (eg change of job or salary excluding annual pay rise).

  7. If the Sponsor has any information which suggests that the migrants breaching the conditions of his or her leave.

  8. If the Sponsor has any information which suggests that the migrant may be engaging in terrorism or other criminal activity (The Sponsor must also pass any such information to the Police).

How long is a sponsor’s licence valid for?
Licences are valid for four years, starting from the day it is issued or the day that applications start for the relevant tier of the points-based system, whichever is the later.

Sponsorship licensing requirements
For your organisation to successfully apply for a licence and be added to the register of sponsors you must prove that you meet the following criteria:

  1. you are a legitimate organisation working within the law in the United Kingdom;

  2. there are no reasons to believe that you are a threat to immigration control; and

  3. your organisation is committed to fulfilling its sponsorship duties.

  4. When your application is approved you will be awarded an A-rating or a B-rating on the register.

  5. As a licensed sponsor, you are required to notify the UKBA if migrant employees do not comply with their immigration conditions, and you must also comply with a number of other sponsorship duties or you will risk losing your licence.

Under what circumstances will a licence be withdrawn?
Circumstances in which a sponsor will normally have their licence withdrawn include:

  1. If it ceases to trade or operate, whether as a result of insolvency or for any other reason;

  2. It ceases to be accredited or registered with anybody that it needs to be accredited/registered with in order to obtain a licence;

  3. If the prospective sponsor or another appropriate agency is an undischarged bankrupt, or legally prohibited from becoming a Company Director.

  4. If the sponsor has provided forged, falsified documents or information to the UKBA.

  5. If the sponsor does not have adequate facilities to cope with the increased staff and no evidence has been provided regarding expansions.

What penalties will apply for illegally employing migrant workers?
In line with the unveiling of the Points Based System, a new penalty system relating to the employment of illegal migrant workers will also be introduced. The new penalty regime consists of a civil penalty for employers who employ illegal migrant workers as a result of negligent recruitment and employment practices, and a criminal offence for those employers found to be knowingly employing migrant workers illegally. Each penalty carries a maximum two-year prison sentence and/or an unlimited fine.

Speak to ICS Legal today on 0207 237 3388 and get our help on your sponsor licence application. 

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