Tier 2 Sponsor Licence Guidance


Tier 2 Sponsor Licence system was announced by the UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) in 2008.

For an organization to be able to recruit skilled labour from outside the UK, companies must have a valid Tier 2 or Tier 5 Sponsor Licence.

Employers and HR directors must also acknowledge the responsibility that come with sponsor licences as well as meet the strict compliance obligations which if not met, can result in huge fines and even prison sentences.

Obinna Baranta

Obinna Baranta



Tier 2 Sponsor Licence is an authorisation granted by the Home Office to UK employers to hire skilled staff from abroad.

Companies applying for a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence must provide proof of the following:

  1. Key personnel have been appointed, and they are dependable and of good character
  2. That it is a legally operating business in the UK.
  3. Your HR systems can manage all the sponsorship duties
  4. Your business is offering employment positions suitable for Tier 2 skill requirements, that are genuine positions and meet minimum salary guidelines

The key personnel that must be appointed are:

  • Authorising officer – a senior and competent person who operates the Sponsor Licence Management System (SMS)
  • Key contact – A key contact person with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)
  • Level 1 user – responsible for all day-to-day management of your licence using the SMS

Our Tier 2 Licence Operations Support Service

Where convenience is priority, we can assign you one of our experts to manage sensitive and bureaucratic roles, such as appointing a Key contact and Level 1 user to you guaranteeing you are always compliant and make sure your SMS is up-to-date: this will free up time for you and your staff to concentrate on growing your business and meeting customer demands.

To apply for a Tier 2 or 5 Sponsor Licence, you will need to fill in the online application form and send it to the Home Office along with the required supporting documents.

It is likely that you will receive a visit from the Home Office immigration officials who will examine your HR systems to check if your business can meet the compliance requirements.

Our team can conduct a mock audit of your HR policies and procedures prior to you applying for your licence, this will identify any flaws after which we will an action plan in place to rectify them.

We recommend that a detailed cover letter is sent in with the application. This letter lists each document enclosed and clarifies any relevant background information. This greatly reduces the chances of a refusal.

Normally, four documents are required when submitting a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence application online.

The required document list is extensive and will depend on whether you are a public body, start-up, franchise, or SME.

Some easy to obtain documents may include but not limited to :

  1. Certificate of VAT registration
  2. Evidence of registration with relevant regulatory bodies authorising you to legitimately operate in the UK.
  3. Evidence of registration as an employer with the HMRC – i.e. PAYE and Accounting Office Reference Number.
  4. Proof of ownership or lease of the business premises or the rent agreement.
  5. Employer’s liability insurance of at least £5 million from an authorised insurer.
  6. Recent Business bank statement.
  7. Latest audited (mandatory if applicable) /unaudited signed accounts.

Home Office has formulated two types of Certificate of Sponsorship which are –

  1. Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship:
    These certificates are given to those prospective employees who are living outside the UK and wish to work in the UK at a position paying less than £159,600 a year unless the job role is an inward investment post.It can also be given to the family members (dependants) of those Tier 4 migrants who are changing positions to a Tier 2 Visa.You can apply for restricted certificates from the Sponsorship Management System (SMS).
  2. Unrestricted Certificates of Sponsorship:
    Multiple Unrestricted Certificates can be processed according to the genuine need of your business.When you apply for your Tier 2 Licence, you’ll have to inform the home office how many certificates are required.You have to describe the genuine need for number of certificates that you have asked for.

Once a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence, you are authorised to employ overseas nationals.

As a sponsor Licencee registered with the Home Office as a sponsor, you can begin to issue Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) to overseas skilled staff subject to meeting the requirements.

For many companies, the advantage of being able to hire skilled talent overseas is essential to the successful operation and growth of their businesses.

At Liberty Bridge Solicitors, we deliver excellent legal and executive support when helping companies acquire and maintain their Tier 2 Sponsor Licences.

Once a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence, you are authorised to employ overseas nationals.

It is important to put in the best application at first, however, even the best applications get turned down.

In some cases, you cannot reapply within 6 months of your Sponsor Licence is refusal. This increases the important of a strong and technically compliant application.

In refusal, if there has been a simple case of working error or the belief that supporting evidence has not been considered properly, our lawyers can apply for a ‘pre-licence error correction’ on your organisation’s behalf.

Where the Tier 2 Sponsor Licence application is refused, there is NO right to appeal.

The only option is to challenge the decision via judicial review, should a ‘pre-licence error correction’ procedure fail, our team are ready to expertly advise and represent you in challenging a decision of sponsor licence refusal.

Tier 2 Sponsor License route has four categories:

  1. Tier 2 (General)
    The Tier 2 (General) route is the primary immigration route for skilled workers. This immigration pathway is designed particularly for migrants who have been offered a job in the UK. The UK’s labour market is undersupplied and needs more human capital to meet national demands. Therefore, it is the main immigration route for skilled workers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland employed by a licensed sponsor to apply to live in the UK.
  2. Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer (ICT)
    Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer (ICT)) allows migrants who has landed a role by an overseas employer in a UK branch of a multi-jurisdictional organisation. The applicant must be from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. The applicant of Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer (ICT)) must be employed by a licensed sponsor.
  3. Tier 2(Minister of Religion)
    An applicant for Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) must be offered a job within a faith community, for instance, as a member of a religious order, missionary, or minister of a religion in the UK.The applicant must be from the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland while meeting the other eligibility requirements.
  4. Tier 2(Sportsperson)
    Tier 2 (Sportsperson) Visa must be applied for by an elite sportsperson or qualified coach recognized by the governing body of applicant’s sport, confirming the applicant as being at the highest level of the profession internationally.
    The applicant must be from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland and must also meet other eligibility requirements.

Post Brexit, employers in the UK will need to have a valid Tier 2 Sponsor Licence to employ overseas skilled workers. As a UK employer, to get a Sponsor Licence, you will need to follow the steps below:

  1. Confirm that your business is eligible.
  2. Choose the type of licence you want to apply for (In this case it will be Tier 2 Sponsor Licence).
  3. Decide who will manage sponsorship within your business.
  4. Apply online and pay the applicable fees.

If your application is successful, your company will be given a licence rating. You can then issue certificates of sponsorship for advertised jobs and employ overseas workers.

A valid Tier 2 Sponsor Licence is valid for 4 years.

However, if you fail to comply with the Home Office rules and regulations, your licence may be withdrawn before expiry.

Tier 2 Sponsor Licence application is processed by the Home Office and usually takes 8-10 weeks processing time. While the application is being processed, you will very likely be visited by the Home Office Compliance Officer. The pre-licence audit is to make sure that you are complying with the sponsorship duties.

The Tier 2 Sponsor Licence Fee depends on the size of the business and varies as follows:

  • For a large Tier 2 sponsor, the annual fee is £1,476.
  • For a small Tier 2 sponsor, the annual licence is £536.

The Home Office can refuse your Tier 2 Sponsor Licence application for a number of reasons.

Some of the common reasons can be that:

  1. the business fails to pass the Home Office’s Compliance Audit;
  2. the business does not have appropriate policy and procedure in place to meet their sponsorship duties
  3. the business does not pass its ‘genuineness test’
  4. the business fails to retain sufficient documentation on migrant workers
  5. the business has not responded to the Home Office’s inquiries on time

It is illegal to employ a skilled immigrant worker without a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence.

To lawfully employ a skilled sponsored overseas worker, a UK employer needs to have a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence. Failing to meet this requirement can cause the company and its promoters to face potential civil penalties and criminal convictions for illegal working.

Sponsor Licence holders are allocated a unique reference number. A Sponsor Licence number is which is handed out to.

If you are a Tier 5 or Tier 2 worker, you can find your employer’s Sponsor Licence number on your Certificate of Sponsorship.

A Sponsor is a privileged trustee and an extension of statutory law and have to bear the responsibility of behaving in a manner consistent with the fundamental values and not tending to cause harm to the wider good.

Once a Tier 2 Sponsor license is granted, a substantial level of trust is placed on you. This trust entails acting in accordance with the Immigration Rules, Tier 2 Sponsor guidance code and the UK Legal System.

A sponsor should keep in mind that sponsorship is a privilege, not a right.

The Home Office will never license organisations whose actions and behaviors are tending to obstruct the public good, and if an existing sponsor is found engaging with behaviors non-conducive to the public good, the Home Office will take appropriate compliance actions. These compliance action will depend on the gravity of actions or behavior.

Liberty Bridge Solicitors is a boutique UK immigration law firm based in Central London with solicitors that have over 18 years of legal practice experience in immigration law.

Our lawyers always take their time to complete detailed assessments to understand our clients’ requirements and expectations.

Annually, our immigration practice assists many clients with immigration services including those who seek Tier 2 Sponsor Licence and we can help you too.

The Home Office is becoming increasingly strict about compliance; however, our team has planned to record an increasing success by developing and updating compliance procedure processes, forms, and documents for Sponsor Licence holders and helping with attention to those documents.

Whenever requested to provide further support, we provide handholding guidance that fosters peace of mind, assurance, and a better outcome.

Post-brexit, the Tier 2 Sponsor license may be very much needed for many UK employers.

For many sectors, such as agriculture, tech, hospitality, and finance, the ability to recruit talent from overseas is imperative to meeting customer demands, launching innovation projects, and growing their business.

Therefore, it is sensible to engage immigration experts who you can rely on to help acquire and manage your Sponsor license duties and responsibilities while keeping you up to date with changes to relevant regulations.

Lawyers at Liberty Bridge Solicitors can provide your organization with full compliance support ensuring you are always in good standing with the authorities and compliant.

This takes away the discomfort, anxiety and suspense felt when expecting announced and unannounced visits from the UK Home Office.

Need Professional Legal Services?

Download Our Legal Fees

Ask A Question…
close slider