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Becoming an Approved Visa Sponsor

If you are not already a licensed sponsor and you think you will want to sponsor migrants through the skilled worker route from January 2021, you should apply now.

You need to apply to be a sponsor if you want to recruit workers through the skilled worker route from outside the resident labour market from 1 January 2021. Until then, current immigration rules will apply.

Becoming a Licensed Sponsor

You do not need to be a sponsor to employ someone from the resident labour market with an existing right to work in the UK. This includes EU citizens with settled or pre-settled status, and non- EU citizens with indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

You will need to:

1. Check your business is eligible

To get a licence, you cannot have unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences or certain other crimes, such as fraud or money laundering.

2. Choose the type of skilled worker licence you want to apply for

This will depend on whether you are sponsoring a job applicant for general purposes, or for the purpose of an ICT. You can apply for a licence covering either or both.

3. Decide who will manage sponsorship within your business

You need to appoint people within your business to manage the sponsorship process when you apply for a licence. The main tool they’ll use is the sponsorship management system (SMS).

The roles are:

  • authorising officer – a senior and competent person responsible for the actions of staff and representatives who use the SMS
  • key contact – your main point of contact with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)
  • level 1 user – responsible for all day-to-day management of your licence using the SMS These roles can be filled by the same person or different people.

4. Apply online and pay a fee

You can apply online for your licence

Your responsibilities

You must:

  • check that your foreign workers have the necessary skills, qualifications or professional accreditations to do their jobs, and keep copies of documents showing this
  • only assign certificates of sponsorship to workers when the job is suitable for sponsorship
  • tell UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) if your sponsored workers are not complying with the conditions of their visa

Your licence may be downgraded, suspended or withdrawn if you do not meet them.

Further information on UK Visa Sponsorship for Employers