The Tier 2 sponsorship licence permits employers in the UK to sponsor skilled foreign workers.

Below we set out a brief guide to making a Tier 2 sponsorship licence application to enable your business to hire migrant workers in skilled roles.


Does your business need a Tier 2 sponsorship licence?

All non-EEA nationals must apply for a visa to work in the UK.

While EU freedom of movement remains unchanged during the Brexit transition period, from 1 January 2021, EU citizens coming to the UK for work will also have to be sponsored and apply for a work visa.

This means if you are a UK-based employer or are planning to set up operations in the UK, you will need a sponsorship licence to employ both EU citizens and non-EEA nationals coming to the UK after 1 January 2021 to work.

Applying for your company’s licence now can help you avoid operational disruption when recruiting migrant workers under the UK’s new, post-Brexit immigration rules.

EU workers already in the UK by 31 December 2020 will not need a Tier 2 visa, and you will not need a sponsor licence to employ them, provided they apply for EU settled status by 30 June 2021 to safeguard their rights to remain.


How does a sponsor licence work?

Those applying under the Tier 2 work visa route have to be sponsored by a UK employer with a sponsor licence.

Tier 2 category iuncludes the following visas:

  • Tier 2 General skilled worker visa for skilled jobs that cannot be filled by a suitably qualified or skilled settled worker. This includes workers coming to the UK to fill shortage occupations, ie; where there are not enough skilled workers in the domestic labour market to meet demand.
  • Tier 2 Intra-company transfer (ICT) visa for employers to transfering existing employees from overseas to a UK branch of the same business.
  • Tier 2 Sportsperson visa for elite athletes and coaches who are internationally established to be based in the UK.
  • Tier 2 Minister of Religion visa for religious workers to undertake employment within a faith community in the UK.

With a sponsor licence, you assign a Certificate of Sponsorship to an individual you want to hire under either the Tier 2 (or Tier 5) category. The worker than uses their CoS to make their visa application to the Home Office.

As a sponsor, you can only assign the CoS to individuals who meet the qualifiying criteria under the Tier 2 visa, relating to salary and skill level.

Sponsor licence holders are also required to comply with a number of duties throughout the validity period of their licence relating to their sponsorship of migrant workers.

The licence is valid for four years, and you eill need ot apply to renew and retain your permission to hire sponsored workers.


Tier 2 sponsorship licence application process

You make the application online via the Home Office sponsorship management system.

The application form itself is relatively straightfoeward. The complexities generally arise when compiling the supporting docuemnts to eviednce your organisation’s eligibility and compliance with the various licence requirements.

Your supporting documents are sthen to be sent by post within five working days of your application, so it is advisable to have prepared all of your documents before you finalise and submit the form.

The documents you need to submit vary dependong on the type of licence you are applying for and the ype of organisation you are. These are specified in ‘Appendix A: supporting documents for sponsor licence application’.

Isseus with the documentation can lead to a delayed decidion or a refused application, naking it important to get right first time.


Tier 2 sponsorship licence requirements

It’s important to have an understanding all of the requirements you will need to meet and evidence, both at the application stage and on an ongoing basis, for your application to be successful.


Genuine vacancy

Your application will need to show that your company is offering a ‘genuine vacancy’ that meets the Tier 2 requirements relating to salary thresholds and skill level.

Tier 2 general visas require jobs to be Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) level 6 or above.

The general minimum salary threshold is determined by a number of factors, such as the type of Tier 2 visa being applied for, whether the worker is a new entrant or experienced worker, the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code, the number of hours to be worked and minimum rates for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) applications. For example, the minimum salary threshold for the Tier 2 General visa is £30,000 for experienced workers and £20,800 for new entrants.



You will also have to show that your organisation has processes and procedures that support compliance with your duties as a sponsor licence holder. These include requirements to keep records and to notify the Home Office of certain changes relating to the migrant workers and the orhanisation as a whole.

The Home Office may arrange to visit you to assess your HR systems before deciding to grant your licence.


Key personnel

As paset of your application you will also have to nominate key personnel. these are individusla, these can be employees or professional advisers, deoending on the role, who ewill be resonsible for specific duties.

Key personnel will be subject to background checks (ciriminal and immigration) to ensure they are honest, dependable and reliable. Here the Home Office will consider any history of immigration violations or any unspent criminal convictions for a relevant offence.



As well as the general requirements, there are also specific requirements for the different Tier 2 visa types. For example, if your licence needs to cover the Tier 2 intracompany transfer visa, you will need to prove the direct connection between your UK company and the overseas business currently employing the worker.


Refused application

You will be notified in writing of the Home Office’s eciiosn.

If your licence iers graned, you can proceed with issuing the Certificate of Spoinsorship to thr worker, for them to make their visa application.

If your applicatio nis refused, the letter will advise of ht egrounds for refusal. Dependoing ont he your next steps and options will depend on the reasons for the refusal and the general circumstnces.

For example, if you believe the refusal was due to supproting documetn not being consoidered, you can send an ‘Error correction request form’.

Any response to the refual must be made within 14 calendar days from the date of the refusal decision letter.

In refusal is upheld, you will have to wait six months before you can reapply.


Tier 2 sponsorship licence costs

Costs associated with the Tier 2 sponsorship licence are determined by the size of your organisation.

  • Small small and charitable sponsors: licence application fee is £536
  • Medium and large sponsors: licence application fee is £1,476

The application fee is non-refundable.

Additional costs for managing your licence include a £199 fee for each Certificate of Sponsorship you allocate to a Tier 2 worker and the Immigration Skills Charge, payable when you assign a certificate of sponsorship to the worker:

  • Small or charitable sponsors: First 12 months, £364. Each additional 6 months: £182
  • Medium or large sponsors: First 12 months, £1,000, Each additional 6 months: £500


Legal disclaimer

The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.


As editor of, Gill is passionate about helping individuals and organisations overseas explore and pursue opportunities in the UK. She is a content specialist in the fields of immigration, law and business.