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Apply for a Tier 2, Tier 4 & Tier 5 Sponsor Licence

Applying for a sponsor licence is a requirement set out by the Home Office whereby an employer or an educational provider needs to apply so that they can either sponsor migrants for work or study in the UK. This includes unpaid work, like running a charity.

We at ICS Legal do not simply facilitate immigration help to our private clients; we create opportunities for employers, those who wish to work in the UK, as well as educational providers and migrants intending to study in the UK.

At ICS Legal, we value our clients and always put you first. We listen to you carefully to your needs as a business or as an educational provider.  By using our knowledge and experience, we will advise you, help you through the sponsor licence application process and support in its submission, making sure it does not get refused.

In doing this, we create and build a strong & long lasting relationships with our clients that are primarily built on trust. We believe in a good UK Immigration Lawyer is approachable, innovative and open, with your best interest at heart of what we do.

If you wish to discuss about a sponsor licence application, you can call us on 0207 237 3388 or you can email us on

How to apply for a sponsor licence application

The application form is the simplest part of the sponsor licence application as most of the applications are refused, based on the information and documents provided at the date of application. As these applications do not come with a right to appeal, you may not be allowed to apply for the sponsor licence application until a cooling off period have expired.

Your responsibility of holding a sponsor licence

When a sponsor licence is granted, the Home Office places trust in you to ensure that the work permit route or if you’re an educational provider, sponsor migrant with the intention for them to work or study in the UK. The direct trust that the Home Office places on you will require you to demonstrate that you have systems in place to manage and monitor migrants.

As a sponsor licence holder, you will have a greater responsibility to ensure and manage the licensing system, making sure that the sponsor licence is used to the benefit of your business, whether you are an employer or an educational provider. The Home Office regularly conducts compliance visits to check that you are carrying out the duties as you have declared in your application for a sponsor licence.  

The Home Office will not license organisations whose actions and behaviour are non-conducive to the public good. These include but are not limited to fostering hatred or inter-community division, justifying or glorifying terrorism; and/or rejecting the rights of, or discriminating against, other groups or individuals on the basis of their gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, race, religious belief (including lack of belief), or any other protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.

The governance on the sponsor licence application

In the policy law, the Home Office outlines 4 main criteria’s in which an employer or an educational provider must establish in order to hold a sponsor licence:

  1. At first, your organisation must demonstrate it is operating in the UK lawfully. There are a number of key documents in which you must provide to support this sponsor licence application. It is likely that an audit may happen however this will depend on the size of your organisation.

  2. As part of the sponsor licence application, you will be required to appoint certain individuals from your organisation to carry out certain activities. Their background and criminal checks will be done to ensure each individual are person of good character.

  3. You will need to demonstrate through the information that you will be able to carry out the responsibility and compliance requirements as part of the sponsor licence.

  4. Finally, where your organisation is employing migrants to work for you, there must be evidence of genuine vacancies being provided and that the correct skill level as well as appropriate rate of pay is being paid.

As part of the Home Office checks, all personal details will be shared with other government agencies, to ensure that sponsor licence holders have been vetted and checked prior the licence being granted.

All but most organisations are expected to be registered with the HMRC, so relevant checks will be made in reference to the business or the educational provider. Other checks may be applied such as the DWP and Credit Industry Fraud Avoidance System (CIFAS) for immigration purposes.

Types of sponsor licence

As part of your sponsor licence application, you will need to demonstrate which type of licence you wish to apply and here are the summary details of the licence programs:

  1. Tier 2 General licences are the most common type of sponsor licence we apply for. This is to recruit migrants to work for your business on a paid employment.

  2. Ministers of Religion sponsor licence application. You must be registered with the appropriate organisation i.e. registered charity and provide relevant evidences at the date of application.  Usually, these employments can be paid or unpaid employments, depending on the requirements of the organisation.

  3. Company transfers are usually for skill share and knowledge. The usual set up is that the parent business is situated outside of the UK and has a UK branch. Staffs are then transferred between the 2 entities.

  4. Sportsperson sponsor licence application is usually applied by a sports club, sporting body and the Governing body must also endorse this application.

Period of the sponsor licence being granted

A sponsor licence is granted for a period of 4 years. You can surrender the licence if you do not wish to employ any more migrants or the Home Office can revoke the licence.

Prior to the expiry of the sponsor licence, you will be able to apply for a renewal. This application may require further evidences to support the sponsor licence application.

Employing migrants in the UK through the sponsor licence route

A migrant must have a sponsor before they can apply to come to, or remain in the UK for work or study. The same applies where a Croatian national who is already in the UK needs to apply for worker authorisation in the form of a Purple Registration Certificate. The sponsor will be an organisation in the UK that wishes to employ, or provide education to a migrant. 

If you intend to sponsor migrants under Tier 2 or Tier 5, you may sometimes need to check how much time they may be allowed to spend in the UK and any other restrictions that may apply to migrants coming to the UK under these tiers.

Immigration Skills Charge

When a migrant is sponsored under the Tier 2, you are required to pay skill charge. The purpose of this is to use this funding and support in training those who live in the UK. The fee is required to be paid each time a certificate of sponsorship (CoS) is assigned. This is set out in the Schedule to the Immigration Skills Charge Regulations 2017 and depends on the size and type of your organisation on the date you assign the worker’s CoS, and the length of employment stated on the CoS.

Where you are a small or a charitable sponsor, then you will have to pay a small fee which is set out in the schedule of payment.

If you fail to pay those charges, then the Home Office can revoke your sponsor licence. Further to this, the charge is for the organisation only and cannot be passed onto the migrant worker.

Sponsor licence application refusal and legal remedy

When your sponsor licence application is refused, it does not carry a right to appeal against that decision. You will be able to request a review of that decision within 14 days taken from the date of the Home Office letter.

ICS Legal can advise and prepare a legal representation to challenge against a refusal of a sponsor licence. We will be able to identify any case working errors or wrongful decision made. In doing so, will attempt to resolve the issue at that point.

Following the review made by the Home Office, if they have not overturned the decision, we will discuss about other forms of legal remedy which are available to resolve the issues.

Prior embarking on these legal processes, we will advise you to take legal advice from one of our UK Immigration Lawyers & we will create an action plan of what needs to be done to resolve the refusal of a sponsor licence application.

Getting legal advice for a sponsor licence application

ICS Legal can advise and support you in this process. We have 100% success rates on Sponsor Licence Applications and we have helped a growing number of start-ups, small, medium and large businesses. Click here to view all the corporate clients we have helped

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