Skilled worker: photo by Kenny Luo on Unsplash

Do I need a Skilled Worker licence?

Article published (or last modified) on 05 November 2023

From the 1st January 2021, if you want to hire people from outside of the UK – excluding Irish citizens – you will need a sponsor licence in order to so. With the UK having left the EU, free movement is ending and a new points-based immigration system has been put in place which will treat EU and non-EU citizens alike.

Skilled Workers

Under the Skilled Worker route, if you are hiring employees from outside the UK, they will usually need a visa. (A couple of exceptions are noted at the end of this post.)

A visa is granted on the basis of meeting certain criteria which are measured in points. 70 points are needed in order for a visa application to be successful. Some of the requirements are mandatory:

  • a job offer from a Home Office licenced sponsor
  • a job offer at the required skill level – at least RQF 3 (A Level/ equivalent)
  • ability to speak English to the required standard

There is a minimum salary threshold which is the higher of either £26,200 or the “going rate” for that specific occupation. However, a lower salary could be considered (no less than £20,960) by trading other requirements such as higher qualifications or a job offer in a shortage occupation. A full list of the breakdown of points needed (including the tradeable points) can be found here.

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash alt

How do I become an approved Home Office licenced sponsor?

If you wish to sponsor a Skilled Worker, you must hold a valid Skilled Worker sponsor licence. You will need to:

  1. Make sure your business is entitled to get a licence: Any unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences or certain other crimes, such as fraud or money laundering will mean that you are not eligible for a licence.
  2. Decide the type of skilled worker licence you need: This will be determined by whether you are sponsoring someone for general purposes, or for the purpose of an Intra-company Transfer (ICT). Your licence application can cover either or both.
  3. Ensure you have the appropriate people to manage your sponsorship licence using the sponsorship management system.
  4. Apply online and pay the relevant application fee. You will also need to submit supporting evidence. The standard processing time for an application is usually eight weeks, however there is a priority service available which will reduce this to five days. The Home Office will charge an extra £500 for this service.

How can White Rose Visas help?

At White Rose Visas we make it our business to ensure that our corporate clients have the best possible opportunity to successfully employ the staff that they need, no matter what nationality, while meeting all legal and regulatory requirements. See our dedicated Employers page for more detail on the service that we provide.

What if I am already a sponsor?

You do not need to apply for a new licence. Your current licence will be transferred over to a new Skilled Worker licence. Your expiry date and allocation of certificates of sponsorship will remain the same as your current licence.

Who doesn’t need a sponsor licence?

You do not need a sponsor licence if the only migrant workers you employ or intend to employ are Irish citizens, EU citizens with settled or pre-settled status or non-EU citizens with indefinite leave to remain in the UK. Make sure that any EEA and Swiss citizens living in the UK by 31 December 2020, and their family members, apply to the EU Settlement Scheme by 30 June 2021.

How do I know if a job meets the required skill level?

All jobs are given a Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code and each code has a certain skill level. The full list of allowed codes for the skilled worker route can be found here. An advantage of the new system is that jobs at Level RQF Level 3 are now permitted (compared to the previous system which required Level 6).

Kim Day, Senior Immigration Adviser at White Rose Visas, says, “We are pleased to see that the Home Office has made some positive changes regarding sponsorship. These include abolishing the Resident Labour Market Test, lowering the RQF level and removing the limit on workers holding a maximum of 10% of their sponsor shares”

We have experience in handling Sponsor Licencing for companies in numerous sectors and have several support packages to suit any company formation and situation. Do get in touch if you would like further information.


0114 303 9933

0800 8600 851


White Rose Visas

101 Wilkinson Street


S10 2GJ

United Kingdom

facebook icon twitter icon