Companies who wish to employ foreign nationals in the UK, including from EEA countries, are required to hold a valid sponsor licence. This allows employers to issue certificates of sponsorship. This is a document used for migrants to obtain a visa in order to work in the UK under the sponsorship of their employer. This is particularly relevant where specific skillsets are in shortage in the UK, which was aggravated by the pandemic and Brexit. Companies need to expand their recruitment methods in order to grow. Here we outline 4 common scenarios in which companies benefit from holding a sponsor licence, and the full process.


Hiring from outside the UK

The most common reason why companies identify the need for a sponsor licence is to expand their search for technical skills outside the UK. The global nature of the employment market in the UK forces companies to find workers with competitive skills in order to grow their business, which means expanding their recruitment efforts to other countries. This attracts a much higher range of candidates which allows companies to be selective and compete within the UK market. With Brexit and the new immigration restrictions imposed on EEA nationals, this is now also a requirement when hiring from EEA countries.


Hiring international students

Hiring young talent benefits companies not only by being cost effective but also by having a cyclical effect on innovation with the introduction of new ideas and perspective, which help developing their business and ensure it remains relevant and updated within the market. Tech advancement is particularly important as young talent promotes the adoption of new technology and software which greatly benefit companies in optimizing their current systems. This also allows companies to specifically train new workers in line with their organisation’s culture.


Students in the UK are, in some cases, allowed to work up to 10/20 hours per week and are hired part-time by companies for the duration of their studies. However, at the end of their studies, they are normally required to leave the UK and terminate their employment. By holding a sponsor licence, a company is able to sponsor the student in switching immigration routes into a Skilled Worker visa, which allows the company to offer full-time employment to a new graduate, who can this way stay in the UK and continue their position in the company. This provides a longer term immigration solution in a way that the graduate visa does not.


Sponsoring current employees

There is a variety of temporary visas which gives employees the right-to-work in the UK. For example a dependent partner or youth mobility visa. However companies cannot guarantee their long-term employment since they are dependent on a different visa route which may end and lead to the forced termination of their employment. Holding a sponsor licence provides a fast solution to this problem, as these employees have the option to switch immigration routes and become a sponsored worker by the company and continue their employment as a Skilled Worker in the UK.


Hiring foreign nationals from inside the UK

A similar scenario where companies benefit from holding a sponsor licence is when recruiting non-UK national who are present in the UK under another type of temporary visa or under the sponsorship of a different company. Skilled Workers are able to make a change of sponsored employment application, where they are currently in the UK working for a different sponsor company and now wish to switch employers. A company is required to hold a licence in order to issue a new certificate of sponsorship and assist the worker in switching sponsored jobs. This is also the case when a candidate is in the UK under certain temporary visas and is now being hired for a permanent position, which the company can sponsor by holding a licence.


Other benefits of the Skilled Worker route

This visa route allows Skilled Workers to work in their sponsored job full-time with a certificate of sponsorship. This may be valid up for a period of any duration up to 5 years, however these certificates can be extended further. Skilled Workers also have the opportunity to apply to settle in the UK (known as Indefinite Leave to Remain) after completing a continuous period of 5 years under this route, which can be a combination of different employments and certificates of sponsorship. After being settled for 12 months, they may also apply for British citizenship subject to other requirements.


The sponsorship process

The sponsorship process is divided into 3 stages. The Home Office ensure that employers comply with their sponsor duties for the duration of their licence which is valid for 4 years and can continue to be extended. The licence is valid to sponsor any other migrant workers and the company can issue further certificates of sponsorship as required, meaning there is no limit as long as the requests are justified.


Our services

We can assist by managing the whole sponsorship process as follows:


Stage 1: Licence application

  • Preparing all application forms on your behalf
  • Review and advise on documents required as per Home Office specifications
  • Communicate with the Home Office on your behalf
  • Assist with expediting the application processing
  • Ensure your company is complying with all sponsor duties
  • Review Key Personnel and advise on their individual duties
  • Review the company’s HR processes as per Home Office requirements
  • Conduct mock audits in preparation for Home Office’s compliance checks


Stage 2: Certificate of sponsorship

  • Assist with requesting certificates and expediting these requests
  • Assist with assigning certificates
  • Review migrant’s qualifications and suitability for the role
  • Review the specifications of the role in line with the requirements
  • Advise on job role and recruitment process requirements
  • Conduct checks to ensure the company is complying with their sponsor duties
  • Assist with reporting employment changes to the Home Office


Stage 3: Visa application

  • Prepare all visa application forms
  • Review and advise on migrant’s documents
  • Advise on processing times and options to expedite
  • Book biometrics appointments and prepare applicants for their appointment
  • Communicate with the Home Office
  • Review decisions and advise on work timeframes
  • Assist with any family members wishing to join the applicant and their own applications


Retainer services

We also offer a retainer service whereby we can be added as an authorised user to your company’s licence and act as your legal representative in respect of all actions required. This also includes scheduled compliance checks and advice sessions. This enables us to carry out such duties directly on your behalf which can include requesting and assigning a CoS and reporting relevant changes, which expedites these processes and provides peace of mind. This offering can be tailored to your company’s specific needs and ensures the company and personnel can concentrate on their role in the business.



Branch Austin McCormick are global immigration specialists in assisting organisations and individuals.

For further information on the issues raised, please contact Sofia Marques Anaya.

Branch Austin McCormick LLP
32 St James’s Street