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Sponsor Licence Applications

The Points-Based System (PBS) for immigration was introduced from April 2008. It replaced most of the existing immigration categories which enabled non-European Economic Area nationals to work and study in the UK. The previous work permit scheme was replaced by Tiers 2 and 5, which were introduced from November 2008. Under the PBS, UK-based employers are required to apply to register for a licence from the Home Office if they wish to sponsor skilled workers from overseas.

The eligibility and suitability criteria for obtaining a sponsor licence are not located in statute law nor in the Immigration Rules; they are mainly contained within the long and regularly changing Sponsor Guidance, and in supplementary guidance contained on the UK Visas and Immigration pages of the GOV.UK website.

The key principles are that a potential sponsor must:

  1. be genuine and operating or trading lawfully in the UK—the SG notes that 'an organisation is deemed as operating or trading from the point of incorporation'

  2. be based in the UK

  3. hold the appropriate planning permission or Local Planning Authority consent for the type of business operated at the trading address (if relevant)

  4. be 'honest, dependable and reliable'

  5. not represent a threat to immigration control, and

  6. be capable of complying with the sponsor duties and responsibilities, and evidencing that compliance, in the timeframe and manner set out in the SG

For further information on the eligibility and suitability criteria, please contact us on

+44 20 8895 6626

When applying for a sponsor licence under Tiers 2 and 5 of the Points-Based System, an organisation must go through the following process:

Step 1: decide which categories/tiers it wishes to include on its licence

Step 2: assess its eligibility and suitability for each category/tier and make any relevant changes to its HR systems

Step 3: decide who will be the 'Key Personnel'

Step 4: get together the appropriate documents for submission with the application

Step 5: decide how many CoS it wishes to request for the first year of the licence—this does not apply for restricted CoS under Tier 2 (General)

Step 6: submit the online application and hard-copy documents

Step 7: where relevant, prepare for and attend the Home Office site visit to the organisation's offices

Step 8: receive the decision

For further information on Sponsor Licence applications, please contact us on

+44 20 8895 6626

When applying for a licence under the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) category, a UK organisation must show that there is a link of common ownership and control between it and each linked overseas entity from whom it wishes to transfer employees. In order to establish the link of common ownership and control, the UK organisation must show that it falls within one of the example situations listed in the Sponsor Guidance, and provide evidence that is also specified in the Sponsor Guidance.

For further information on ICT Sponsor Licence applications, please contact us on

+44 20 8895 6626

When applying for a sponsor licence, an organisation must decide who will act as its 'key personnel' for the purposes of the licence and its relationship with the Home Office.

These are:

  1. Authorising officer (AO)

  2. Key contact (KC)

  3. Level 1 user

  4. Level 2 user

There are a number of restrictions on who can be appointed into these positions, and key personnel members will be subject to a number of duties and responsibilities.

For further information on key personnel, please contact us on

+44 20 8895 6626

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