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 EEA, 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 Tier 2 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.
  • Immigration Cap: The immigration cap brought in by the UK Government in April 2011 limits the number of Certificates of Sponsorship within Tier 2 (General). There are now two types of Certificates: Restricted (covered by the cap) and Unrestricted (not covered by the cap). Because this cap only applies to Tier 2 (General) applications, Intra Company Transfers (ICT), Minister of Religion and Sportsperson routes are not affected.
  • Unrestricted Certificates: These certificates can be issued to migrants residing within the UK who are eligible to switch into Tier 2 or extend their Tier 2 visas. They can also be issued to those migrants applying outside the UK who have been offered a salary of at least £155,300.
  • Restricted Certificates: These certificates are needed for any migrants applying from outside the UK. The annual limit imposed on these certificates is currently 20,700. Applications for Restricted Certificates are considered by a monthly panel and must be submitted by the 5th of the month, in order to be considered on the 11th of the month. See this gov.uk page for the latest figures on Restricted Certificates.
  • 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 Tier 2 application.
  • The Resident Labour Market Test: This test is conducted to show that no settled (local) worker is available for the role the sponsor is looking to fill, and must usually be fulfilled. However, there are some exceptions where this test is not required.
  • 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

Wharf House

Victoria Quays

Wharf Street

Sheffield S2 5SY

United Kingdom

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