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FAQs on Sponsor Licence Application

In this post, we summarise the 17 most common issues which our clients have encountered when applying for a sponsor licence in the UK.

  • Writer's pictureAnsel Nguyen

Before going through this FAQs list, you may wish to read our guide on the sponsor licence application here. In this post, we summarise the 17 most common issues which our clients have encountered when applying for a sponsor licence in the UK.

FAQs on sponsor licence application in the UK - NIDO Leal

1. Why Home Office refused my Sponsor Licence application?

There are many reasons which lead to the Home Office’s refusal of sponsor licence. Based on our experience, the most 3 common refusal reasons are as follows:

  • You have submitted the wrong or insufficient supporting documents;

  • You could not show the actual need for a sponsor licence in your application;

  • Your human resource management practice is not good enough for the Home Office to grant you a sponsor licence.

2. What kinds of job categories can I sponsor for foreign workers?

Overall, there are 4 job categories you can sponsor a foreign worker:

  • You can sponsor a foreign worker as a skilled worker;

  • You can sponsor a foreign worker under the intra-company transfer category;

  • You can sponsor a foreign worker as a sportsperson;

  • You can sponsor a foreign worker as a minister of religion.

Out of the 4 categories above, sponsoring a skilled worker is the most common route.

3. How much does it cost to apply for a sponsor licence?

The cost for a sponsor licence depends on the size and type of organisation and is demonstrated as follows:

Usually, the criteria to distinguish a small from a large organisation is that a small organisation meets 2 out of 3 following criteria:

  • Having a turnover in its financial year of no more than £10.2 million.

  • Having total assets which are worth no more than £5.1 million.

  • Your organisation has no more than 50 employees.

You should also note some other additional fees may be associated with the sponsor licence application fee such as:

  • Fee for assigning the Certificate of Sponsorship: £199

  • Immigration skills charge up to £5,000 for a large organisation (when the period in the CoS is from 54 – 60 months) and £1,820 for a small organisation (when the period of the Cos is from 54 – 60 months). For the period of the CoS no more than 12 months, the immigration skills charge is £1,000 for large organisations and £364 for small ones.

4. Do I need a sponsor licence to sponsor a worker from the EU?

Yes, you will need a sponsor licence to sponsor workers from the EU who arrived in the UK after 31 December 2020.

For those EU citizens who resided in the UK by 31 December 2021, they will need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue to live, work and study in the UK.

5. Which roles I can sponsor under the skilled worker visa?

You should bear in mind that you are not allowed to sponsor every role. The sponsored role you proposed in the sponsor licence application must meet the requirements from which you can accumulate 70 points.

Some of the important requirements are as follows:

  • The job must be at the appropriate skill level.

  • The candidate must speak English at the required level.

  • Satisfy the salary requirements.

6. How long does my sponsor licence last?

When your organisation is granted a sponsor licence, it is valid for 4 years but it is not automatically renewed.

7. How can I renew my sponsor licence?

It is recommended that you should renew your sponsor licence by making a renewal application before the current sponsor licence expires.

It is relatively easy to renew a sponsor licence. You only need the authorised officer to make a renewal request and make the payment through the sponsor management system (SMS).

Based on the request, the Home Office will assess the information on the SMS and relevant documents in the past 4 years to check the compliance of your organisation with the duties of the licence. It means that when you renew your sponsor licence, you will need to ensure that you have complied with all sponsorship duties.

8. How can I find companies that are willing to sponsor my worker visa?

If you want to find a list of all organisations in the UK who have sponsor licences and being able to sponsor foreign workers, you can check it here.

9. Are there any duties to maintain my sponsor licence?

Once your organisation has been granted a sponsor licence, your organisation has to comply with the duties to maintain the sponsor licence. Compliance with such duties also helps your organisation in the sponsor licence renewal in the future.

Overall, there are 4 categories of duties that your organisation needs to comply:

- Duties to keep the records;

- Duties to monitor and report to the Home Office;

- Duties to track and record the attendance of your employees;

- Duties to report to the Home Office of any significant changes in your business.

10. Can I apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship if I haven’t found a worker yet?

In order to answer whether you should have a candidate first or you should apply for a sponsor licence first, it will depend on how you demonstrate to the Home Office that there is a genuine need for employment of foreign workers and your organisation satisfies all the requirements. It means that it does not rule out the possibility that you can apply for a sponsor licence even you do not have a specific candidate in place. As this option is more difficult and complicated than applying for a sponsor licence when you already have a candidate, please contact us for a free consultation.

11. I have a role but can’t match it to the correct Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code

First of all, if you are not aware of the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code, you can check it here. Failure to match your proposed role to the right occupation code could result in issues when you apply for a sponsor licence, e.g., the Home Office can refuse your sponsor licence application due to the uncorrected code.

If after checking the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code and you are still not sure which one is correct, you could try the ONS occupation coding tool here.

If you are still uncertain about the code for the proposed job role, don’t hesitate to give us a call or message, our expert team will help you choose the correct one.

12. What is a Certificate of Sponsorship?

Once you applied for a sponsor licence, a reference number will be given to your organisation via the sponsor management system (SMS) which is used for the prospective worker your organisation wishes to sponsor. This reference number is called the Certificate of Sponsorship or CoS.

13. What defined and undefined certificate of sponsorship?

It is important to distinguish between a defined and undefined certificate of sponsorship during the sponsor application, otherwise, you would risk your application being refused by the Home Office.

The defined certificate of sponsorship applies to a prospective employee being outside the UK and that employee will need to apply for entry clearance to come over to the UK. Detailed information on the job and salary will need to be provided.

For the undefined certificate of sponsorship, this type of sponsorship will apply for people who apply for Skilled Worker from inside the UK.

14. What should I do if my company has many branches in the UK?

If your organisation has several branches in the UK, you have 4 options as follows:

  • You can apply for one single sponsor licence which covers the headquarter and all branches in the UK.

  • You can apply for one single sponsor licence which covers the headquarter and some branches in the UK.

  • You can apply for separate sponsor licences for headquarter and each branch in the UK.

  • You can group several branches together as a region and apply for one single sponsor licence on a region basis.

15. How long do I have to wait to get a sponsor licence?

Once you applied, you will have to wait up to 8 weeks to get the result. Depending on the complexity and how you present your application, it can be reduced to 4 to 6 weeks.

16. Will the Home Office visit my business to check for compliance?

It is not uncommon to have the Home Office visit your business for the on-site audit. The visit will give the Home Office the information they need and help them consider whether they should grant your organisation a sponsor licence.

You should bear in mind that the Home Office can make unannounced visits to your business premises, which means you may not be notified of their visit.

Therefore, in order to ensure that your organisation has complied with employment and other requirements for a sponsorship regardless of the announced or unannounced visit from the Home Office, you should always check that:

  • Your human resource system meets the requirements;

  • There is no evidence raising the concern that you would not comply with sponsor duties in the future.

  • You have important supporting documents in place.

17. What do I need to do if my sponsor licence application is refused?

In the worst-case scenario, if your sponsor licence application is refused, you still have options to proceed but it heavily depends on the reason for the Home Office’s refusal.

Depending on whether your application is rejected or refused, you are allowed to make a new application which is subject to a cooling-off period (normally at least 6 months).

You also have the option to ask the Home Office to review the decision if you believe that the caseworker has made an error.

If you are not sure which option you should go with your refused sponsor licence application, or you need help with your sponsor licence application, please contact our expert solicitors for a free consultation at +44 (0) 333 300 3497 or send us an email to

At NIDO, we can provide our clients with a complete and comprehensive guide on the sponsor licence application and best practices to secure the best outcome.


Need help ...

If you need to speak to an expert to help in your matter, do not hesitate to call us now, it costs nothing to call us as we are waiting to help you.

+44 (0) 333 300 3497

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