UK Sponsorship Licence: what to know before applying

Keep calm

Non-European citizen wanting to work full-time in the UK need their visa to be sponsored by the employer. Most employers from medium, small companies, and startups, share the impression that the sponsorship is impossible to get. This negative perception is a missed opportunity for both UK employers and foreign employees.

Here below is a check list for you and your company to help navigate the UK immigration sponsorship system (the costs and work involved). It will clear out the misconceptions that prevents your company from hiring you and other migrants that qualify the requirements.

Congratulations you have been offered a job in the UK!

And you need a UK visa: quickly figure out if you fit the UK work Visa requirements by answering these five simple questions:

Is the salary meeting the minimum requirement? The UKVI has a minimum salary requirement for different jobs (and they won’t accept one cent below!). It is around 22K minimum overall as of April 2014. Below that, the job is likely not fitting to be granting you a tier 2 visa.

 Does the job description matches the job advertised? Your job has to match a SOC code set by the UKVI and describing the role.

– Can you prove you qualify for the job? I assume most of you reading this are highly skilled individuals with a NFQ 6 level qualification at least. Check the list here if your profile meets the skill level needed.

– Does the company have to pass the resident labour market test? Some jobs are on the list of jobs in shortage, that is a list of jobs available in the UK for foreigners to take because there is a shortage of UK locals to fill them. If your job is on that list, your employer will not need to advertise the job position for 8 weeks before applying for the licence. Also, if you are a graduate student, you most likely will not need to pass the test but do check if you need to because this criteria varies and changes throughout the years.

  • The company has to commit financially

– Is your company ready to cover the costs? Count between 515£ for small companies or £1545 for bigger + external costs of gathering documents


Applying to the sponsorship licence: who’s in charge?

Who is going to prepare the application? 

I would strongly recommend an immigration lawyer for all the pitfalls associated with that visa application but, your call. Know that solicitor advice costs range from £1,200 GB for very small law firms to £2,000-£4,000 GB for top firms. If you send the wrong paper, or your documents are not certified the right way, likely your sponsorship application will be refused. On top of this, there is no right to appeal if your application gets refused. You just have to do it all over again (if you have time…). Consider this wisely before going ahead applying on by yourself without the help of a solicitor.

Ready? Steady? Go!

Once you have checked this, all that is left, is to convince your employer to let your solicitor or yourself handle the application process.

Most likely, if you go for a lawyer, you are in safe hands. If you go doing it yourself, your employer might admire the pro-active move but again know it is at your own risks. The more kick-ass at collecting the right documents,  detailed oriented mind and knowledge in filing administrative papers, the better for you to choose that cheap option. Schedule down that it will take 4 to 8 weeks and perhaps more time to get a decision on your sponsorship application. If you have a big law firm with you, most probably your application will get reviewed faster.

The time to collect all documents can take a bit of time (a week or two) but it is not that difficult (just a hassle) and expect some documents to need to be certified because you can’t get or you don’t want to lose the originals. Thus, prepare for extra costs for a lawyer or someone who can certify documents.


Now that you are aware of the requirements, the costs and timeline, read how to applying to the tier 2 sponsorship licence: A step by step guide for employees and employees (part 2)


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***** DISCLAIMER *******

This post is about how an employee can contribute to help his/her company apply and get a UK sponsorship licence to sponsor their visa. It is based on experience and immigration rules of as of last October 2013. Every effort is made to make sure the accuracy of the information provided. However, no guarantee or representation is given that the information and materials contained in it are complete or free from errors or inaccuracies and any information is not to be looked upon as advice from Migreat. Always read the UK Border Agency policy guidance, the Immigration Rules and our Para-legal Content to find information about all the requirements you must meet. You can find links to this information at Migreat and The UK Border Agency.

To the extent permitted by applicable laws, Migreat accepts no liability for any loss or damages or expenses of any kind by the use of this content. Content on this blog is protected by copyright and you may not make alterations or additions to it or use it for commercial purposes without Migreat’s written consent.

31 thoughts on “UK Sponsorship Licence: what to know before applying”

  1. i am a boy of 22yrs from ghana,i am very good hardworker i aim to work in uk but due to a finnacial problem,my fact of comming here is to plead on the sponsors to help me get there to work and pay them back with an interest thanks i will be glad to hear from my savior thanks,+233548705492 is my mobile number thaks.


  2. Hi , I am living in UAE and I applied for a Job in the UK. The Employer asked me if I needed a sponsorship from a UK Company or not. I have read your post and it is really helpful but I am still confused about “Sponsorship” . Is it mandatory for me to have a sponsorship to be able to work in the UK or not !!


  3. Hi Aladdin, sorry for the late reply. Yes, it is most likely mandatory for you to be sponsored to work in the UK if you are applying to a tier 2 visa. I would suggest you check you visa eligibility on and see if you can come on another visa – perhaps tier 1 or a tier 5.

    The first visa will allow you to work in the UK without the need of a sponsor. It is reserved to highly skilled people. The tier 5 visa will allow you to work temporarily in the UK without the sponsorship of an employer but by a third party.

    You can find all this information on

    Hope that helps,


    1. Hi josephinegoube, Thanks for your reply and very useful information.

      Actually After a quick research about Types of Visas and Sponsorship for the UK, I found the following:
      • There are many schemes of Visas for the UK : Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 4 and Tier 5.
      • For working professionals, the only conceivable way of moving to the UK and making a living is through the Tier 2 visa scheme.
      • Tier 2 visas come in different forms, but are in essence work sponsorship visas.
      • The UKBA (United Kingdom Border Agency) has compiled a list (last updated on 24-December-2014) of companies that have the ability of sponsoring Tier 2 and Tier 5 Visas. List can be checked from here:
      • Actually the company that I wanted to work for was listed and they informed me that they currently sponsor a Tier 2 employee. However, they have only been allocated one, which is already being used.

      So, Do you have an idea whether Tier2 Sponsorships are assigned to companies individually or in terms of eligibility. What I mean is do companies in the UK have a limitation to have 1, 2, 3, 4 or whatever the number of tier2 sponsorships or companies can issue any number of Tier2 sponsorships if they are listed and eligible to do so !!!

      Thanks in advance 🙂


      1. Aladdin, indeed you are very right on all points 🙂

        To answer your questions: if your employer is already a sponsor, they don’t have a strict set of allocated certificate of sponsorship. They can always ask for more through the online system and be allocated more.

        Tier 2 Sponsorships are assigned to organisations. Organisations have to show a list of documents, as I mentioned in the blog post, that will prove to the UKVI that they are trustworthy organisations. Once the sponsorship Licence has been granted, the organisation is allowed to hire migrants. Flexibility is given over the number of certificates a company wants to issue to recruit. This is done via an online system managed by the UKVI. Requesting more certificates needs to be justified and is always doable.

        Good luck!


  4. I am looking for a sponsor with finances for a start up business. I have tried very hard to make ends meet but no success. So I call to all the entrepreneurs for help to sponsor me. Please I am looking for a good samaritan to help me. I am in Africa.


  5. Hi,

    I am from India. I am working an as a webMethods consultant for the past 7 years. Currently I am looking for work permits sponsors. Can you please let me know how to get in touch with the right set of opportunities.



  6. HI josephinegoube,

    I got 2 days back offer from SK Group, UK.

    To join SK Group they asking me for Foreigners’ Employment License after that they provide me Work permit.

    Can you please let me know the process for the same and what Fee is required?



    1. Hi Sandeep,

      if you have an employment offer from a UK Company – you need your employer/company to sponsor you by issuing a Certificate of Sponsorship for you. With this (when issued) you will be able to apply for a work permit/ Tier 2 visa. I suggest you read more about the sponsorship licence here: and about applying for the work visa

      Hope that helps,


  7. i am a boy of 25yrs from bangladesh,i am very good hardworker i aim to work in uk but due to a finnacial problem,my fact of comming here is to plead on the sponsors to help me get there to work and pay them back with an interest thanks i will be glad to hear from my savior thanks,+8801874377055 is my mobile number thaks.


    1. Hi Abdule,
      To come work in the UK, you need to be a skilled worker and find a sponsor company to offer you a job. I appreciate you are a very hard worker but here in the UK they check for diplomas and skilled experience to grant the visa. Hard working is not enough to get the visa unless you can prove you are a skilled worker. If you have no university experience or can do a job that is on the job in shortage list, it will prove difficult for you to find a work to come here. I would suggest you ask the London South Asian community for some help and guidance of how you can become a skilled worker before applying to a UK Visa.

      Hope that helps,


  8. Hi Josephine,

    Hope you are doing great and your blog looks awesome and very informative.

    Can a sponsorship holder work at any other org than the sponsor Org ?. Re-framing my question, so If a person is going on X company offer letter (sponsorship for 2 yrs), but then he wants to work for a diff company after reaching UK (X Sponsor is okay with this change).

    If Yes, a) what are the major challenges b) how are the opportunities.


  9. Hi I am a Malaysian and ever since I backpacked to the UK and realized that the career opportunities are more than back home. I have been dying to find a job in the UK (To be frank, I have had a hard time looking for jobs back home or in neighbouring countries). I understand that a company could only sponsor a non Eu foreigner when they pass the resident labour market tests. Does that mean that as long as there are other British or EU citizens applying to the position, I will immediately be ditched? I saw the job ads in Linkedin for jobs in the UK, almost each of them has more than 10 to 50 applicants. Does that mean I will have no chance at all, given that there are residents applying to the job? I have been applying for jobs for one month, but wonder if it is just a wasted effort if there are already local applicants. I must admit that my question is a bit dumb and speculative, but just want to know more about it and whether to stop ‘dreaming’


    1. Hi Shimin,

      Your comment is right: finding a job in the UK from abroad is tough. Nevertheless, you should not lose hope. There are shortages of skills in the UK which means that employers can’t find locally the talent for jobs they offer. I would advise you to look for the job in shortage list and see if there is any job category that matches yours. This means you won’t have to apply the labour market test of 28 days. Read more below


  10. Hi there am actually from Mauritius am married with 2 kids and I would like to work in th UK. What are my chances I am ready to start on a very low basis. Thanking you in advance for an answer.


  11. hi , i am South African business man looking to apply for a business visa for the UK , are there any franchise websites that you can recommend for me to look at? regards V Singh


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