Setting up a company in the UK and employing someone from outside of the UK will result in you needing to acquire a sponsor licence.

Sponsor Licence

A sponsor licence is a licence granted to the employer by the UK Government’s Home Office that enables them to hire skilled nationals from non-EEA (European Economic Area) countries. Employers must apply for a sponsor licence and provide evidence of their eligibility and that they meet the strict requirements set by the Home Office.

There are a number of steps to go through ahead of obtaining a sponsor licence:

  1. Check your business is eligible
  2. Choose the type of licence you want to apply for
  3. Decide who will manage sponsorship within your business
  4. Apply for a sponsor licence and pay the fee

“Sponsoring someone does not guarantee that they’ll be allowed to come to or stay in the UK”
UK Government.


To be considered for a sponsor licence you must not have any unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences or other crimes such as fraud or money laundering. The company must not have any history of failing to carry out sponsorship duties in the past. UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) reviews all sponsor licence application forms and may visit your business to check your company’s relevant paperwork and further verify your application.

Types of visa

There are two types of visas that are most relevant to employers who need to hire migrant workers:  Tier 2 and Tier 5.

Tier 2 (General) is a visa essentially, for skilled workers with long-term job offers and Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) visa required for multinational companies that need to transfer overseas employees to the UK., for example, to work on a specific project or assist with setting up a UK entity.

Tier 5 is for skilled workers who you need to employ on a temporary basis. This visa can cover creative and sporting persons, charity workers and religious workers.

Managing sponsorship

When a company applies for a sponsor licence, they must appoint responsible people within the business to manage the sponsorship process and keep the Home Office up to date with any changes regarding migrant workers as well as company changes that may affect the sponsorship licence. These roles include an Authorising Officer, Key Contact and Level 1 User. These roles can be filled by the same person or more than one person. All authorised users will be verified by the Home Office to ensure suitability for these roles.

After your application

If successful, you will be issued with a licence, together with licence rating. This will then enable you to sponsor migrant workers by issuing certificates of sponsorship. Your licence will be valid for four years; however, your licence may be revoked at any time if you fail to meet your responsibilities as a sponsor.

Paul Beare Ltd can provide discuss your individual company needs. For further information please get in touch.