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Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence Guidance for Employers and Educational Providers

The UK Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence allows UK businesses to employ non-EU migrant. This affords a company a significant competitive advantage as you will have the opportunity to recruit the most appropriate person for the job.

Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence process

In order to make a successful Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence application an employer will need to demonstrate that:

  • You are a legitimate business/organisation working within the law of the United Kingdom;

  • There are no reasons to believe that you are a threat to immigration control in the UK; and

  • Your organisation is committed to fulfilling its sponsorship requirements.

Tier 2 Certificate of Sponsorship

After an employer has obtained the sponsorship licence they will need to assign a Certificate of Sponsorship to the requisite Tier 2 employee. The Certificate of Sponsorship (COS) is not a paper certificate like a work permit. It is a ‘virtual document’. The crucial part of the COS is the unique reference number which it contains.

There are two types of COS. The type of COS which is assigned is determined by whether the Tier 2 applicant is situated in the UK or overseas. If the Tier 2 applicant is situated within the UK and can switch into this category, the employer will need to assign an unrestricted COS. If the Tier 2 Applicant is located abroad, the employer will need to assign a restricted COS.

Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence and the Resident Labour Test (RLMT)

In some instances, an employer will need to undertake the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT). This is to ensure that they have taken all appropriate steps to try and secure a suitable candidate from within the UK. The employer will need to advertise the position in question at the appropriate salary and level for a period of 28 consecutive days before they can offer the job to a non-EU migrant.

Responsibilities as a Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence holder

As a Tier 2 Sponsor, you have certain reporting and record keeping duties. We have listed some of the obligations below.

You must inform the UKVI if any of the followings occur:

  • If the Tier 2 Sponsored Worker does not turn up for their first day of work.

  • If the Tier 2 Sponsored Worker is absent from work for more than 10 consecutive working days without your permission.

  • If the Tier 2 Sponsored Worker has resigned or been dismissed.

  • If you cannot continue to pay the Tier 2 Sponsored Worker at the appropriate salary or if the position in which the worker was sponsored ceases to be available.

  • If you suspect the Tier 2 Sponsored Worker may be engaging in terrorism or other criminal activity.

How long is a sponsorship licence valid for?

Once the licence is issued, it is valid for four years, upon expiry of the licence you can apply to have it renewed providing you continue to meet with the requisite obligations.

Tier 2 Licensing and sponsorship costs

A fee of £536-£1,476 is payable depending on the size of your business. Please also bear in mind you will also have to pay a fee of £184 to assign the COS to the requisite Tier 2 Applicant and thereafter pay a visa processing fee for the Tier 2 General Visa application processing fee.

Revocation of a Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence

A Tier 2 Sponsorship licence may be withdrawn in the following circumstances:

  • If it ceases to trade or operate as a business due to whatever reason

  • Ceasing to be accredited or registered with the appropriate body if so required to do so.

  • If the prospective sponsor or another appropriate agency is found to be an un-discharged bankrupt, or legally prohibited from becoming a Company Director.

  • If the sponsor is found to have provided forged, false documentation or information to the UKVI

  • If the sponsor has inadequate facilities to cope with the increased number of employees and no evidence was provided regarding any expansions.

The issue of revocation of sponsorship licences is dealt with in the Supreme Court case of R (on the application of New London College Ltd) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2013]. The court provided further guidance and clarity on how to adhere to your duties as a Tier 2 Sponsor. In order to avoid revocation of the sponsorship licence, the sponsor should familiarise themselves with their record keeping and compliance duties as a Tier 2 sponsor.

Illegal Worker Penalty Notice

As a Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence employer, you have a duty to ensure that all non-EEA workers have had their documents vetted in accordance with the requisite UKVI requirements. In order to stay fully compliant, employers should follow a three-step process to ascertain whether the prospective employees have the right to work in the UK:

  • obtain specific documents which establish the individual’s right to work;

  • check the validity of those documents; and

  • copy the appropriate documentation.

If you fail to adhere to the above, The Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 (IANA 2006) gives the Home Office the power to issue penalty notices up to the sum of £20,000 per illegal immigrant and a possibility of receiving a custodial sentence. In addition, the Home Office has the power to publish business details of those found to be employing illegal workers. This will have a disastrous impact on the reputation of the organisation in question.

At ICS Legal were always excited in working with your company, whether it's a start-up or a multinational institution, our skill set is designed to cater for the organisation in question. The introduction of the Points Based System in 2008, enables us to structure Migration Plans ensuring your company is not affected by growth in the UK or abroad. One of the most important parts of the UKBA Licence Programme is to meet the Compliance requirements.

We comprehend the transition of individuals in the UK or abroad for the visa process can be a stressful position for any organisation, at ICS Legal we will plan and implement a working structure within your Human Resources Model where steps are completed prior to reaching the migration stage. At ICS Legal we are able to manage the initial Sponsor License applications to managing projects for all your employees across the world. 

The UK Company Sponsor Licence which is part of the point based system covers the Tier 2, Tier 4 and Tier 5 categories to support businesses in the UK to manage the easier migration of individuals. This section tells you how to apply for a sponsor licence to sponsor migrant workers or students under the points-based system. 
To discuss your application for a sponsor licence, or you would like us to manage your immigration program including your sponsor management system, please e-mail us on or call us on 0207 237 3388. One of our trained Immigration Lawyers will be in touch to discuss your case in detail and provide an action plan including all relevant costing.

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