Sponsor Licensing: An Overview

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.

In order for companies to employ workers from outside the UK, organisations must hold a Sponsor Licence. They are then permitted to issue Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) which enable workers to make a successful application for a Skilled Worker visa.

White Rose Visas team

What follows is a brief guide to the main aspects of the Home Office rules governing the Sponsor Licence system:

  • Registered Sponsors: Employers must be registered as a sponsor with the Home Office in order to issue Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS). Registered employers can issue a CoS, which is then required for the migrant to make their immigration application.
  • Defined Certificates: Defined Certificates of Sponsorship are used to hire workers who are coming to the UK from overseas and who are eligible for a Skilled Worker visa. License holders must specifically apply for each Defined CoS that they require. in most cases Defined Certificates will be granted by the Home Office within 1 day and must be allocated to an individual within 3 months.
  • Undefined Certificates: Undefined Certificates of Sponsorship are used to hire workers who are already within the UK and who are eligible for a Skilled Worker visa, such as those switching from a Student visa. They are also used for those applying for a CoS for all other visas. When signing up as a sponsor, a license holder is able to request as many Undefined CoS as they feel they will require each year. If a sponsor runs out of Undefined CoS they musts either request one within the year through a priority service or risk a wait of up to 18 weeks. Any unassigned Undefined CoS will expire on April 5th each year.
  • Salaries: Employers must ensure that an appropriate salary for the post is paid, so as to match the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code. We continue to see many refusals caused by employers not meeting this requirement, and it is therefore crucial that this information is checked carefully before submitting a Skilled Worker application.
  • Immigration Skills Charge: In most cases Sponsor License holders must pay an Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) to hire a Skilled Worker. The cost of the ISC will depend on the size of the company and the length of the certificate being issued. Some of the exemptions to the charge include hiring employees for specific SOC codes and hiring individuals who are hoping to switch from the Student visa.
  • Compliance Visits: It is common for the Home Office to conduct a compliance visit to a business where a sponsor licence is held. This can be either announced or unannounced. Between Q3 and Q4 of 2017 14% of licence applicants received a pre-licence visit and 8% received one after their licence had been issued. 71% of these visits resulted in suspension or revocation of their licence. It is vital for all sponsor licence holders to uphold immigration law in order to ensure that they avoid a similar fate.
White Rose Visas at work

Sponsor Licencing is one of the most complex areas of Immigration Law. For this reason, a competent and pro-active Representative is a necessity for many employers who employ migrants, or who intend to do so.

Here at White Rose Visas we have assisted numerous companies and organisations within multiple sectors, including IT, consultancy, engineering, designers, retailers and healthcare providers. We are also experienced in working with several religious, charitable and Not for Profit organisations.

For further details on our Sponsor Premium Support Package as well as all other support services we offer please see our Employers page. Alternatively, contact us using our contact details below if you feel that you may require advice or assistance with the Sponsor License process.


0114 303 9933

0800 8600 851

Email info@whiterosevisas.co.uk

White Rose Visas

101 Wilkinson Street


S10 2GJ

United Kingdom

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