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What is Sponsor Licence in the UK? And why it’s important

The UK has one of the best working environments in Europe. As a foreigner, with an intention to work in the UK, you must get a work visa. However, you

The UK has one of the best working environments in Europe. As a foreigner, with an intention to work in the UK, you must get a work visa. However, you can only get (or even apply) for a work visa if you have a job offer from a UK employer approved by the Home Office. Among the requirements your employer must have is a valid sponsor licence. Read on to find out what the sponsor licence is all about and why it’s important. 

What is Sponsor Licence?

As a foreigner coming to work in the UK, you need a sponsor. By default, your employer, offering you the job, is your sponsor. However, not every UK business can bring in workers from outside the country. Only approved businesses can and for that, they must obtain a sponsor licence. 

Hence, a sponsor licence is an official document that proves a UK company is authorized to hire foreign workers. If you’re coming to the UK to invest – with the Start-up or Innovator visa for example, – you won’t need an employer hence no sponsor licence requirement. However, you’ll need an endorsement from a licenced endorsing body. Therefore, ultimately, you need backing in the country. 

To apply for a sponsor licence, your employer must first confirm that your job is eligible for sponsorship and that you have the skills and qualifications for the job, with documents to prove it. In addition, they must not have had a sponsor licence revoked in the past 12 months. 

The type of sponsorship licence your employer will apply for will depend on your job type. There are 2 types and they include:

  • Worker licence: jobs under this category include the Skilled Worker, Senior or Specialist Worker, Minister of Religion, and International Sportsperson visas. 
  • Temporary worker licence: jobs under this category are temporary jobs and include the Creative Worker, Charity Worker, Graduate Trainee, Seasonal Worker, and Secondment Worker visas to name a few. 

Application for a sponsorship licence isn’t free. The process costs £536 for small businesses and charities, and £1,476 for medium and large companies. It takes around 8 weeks to process and if successful, employers usually get an A-rating licence. However, they’ll get a provisional rating licence if your job position is that of a UK Expansion Worker.  

Why is it important?

Getting your UK work visa is dependent on you satisfying the visa requirements for your job category. As mentioned earlier, having a sponsor – your employer – is a key requirement. To confirm their sponsorship, your employer must issue you a certificate of sponsorship. 

A sponsor licence is important because only UK employers with a valid licence can issue certificates of sponsorship. In other words, without a sponsor licence, you can’t get a sponsorship certificate from your employer and without a sponsorship certificate, you can’t get a work visa. 

Each A-rating sponsor licence is valid for 4 years. Hence, employers don’t need to apply for a new licence for every job offer. To confirm your UK employer has a valid sponsor licence, you can check the Register of licensed sponsors on the GOV UK website.

The certificate of sponsorship you receive will contain details about your employer and your job offer. Most importantly, it’ll contain your job title and your employer’s sponsor licence reference number. Note that it’s an electronic document, not a physical one. 

When applying for your work visa, you only need to provide the certificate’s reference number. The certificate is valid for 3 months, therefore you must start your visa application as soon as you receive it. 

While it’s of grave importance, a certificate of sponsorship isn’t the only requirement for your visa. It only proves that you have a job offer from a licenced UK employer, but doesn’t give you any right to enter the country to work. 

Another important requirement is that you have enough funds to support your stay. Your employer is only entitled to pay your salary. They are not responsible for your financial needs during your stay; however, they may decide to be. In such a case, it must be stated in your certificate of sponsorship. 

Finally, it’s crucial that you demonstrate proficiency in English unless you’re from a native-English-speaking country.