Applying for a Tier 2
sponsor licence

What is a sponsor licence?

In order to ‘sponsor’ a non-EEA or Swiss national to work in the UK under a Tier 2 skilled worker visa, a company must first apply to the Home Office for a sponsor licence.

The sponsor licence application must be approved by the UK authorities before an employee can apply for a Tier 2 visa.

Each licence is valid for four years and allows the company to make individual applications for Tier 2 visas as per its business needs.

In order to make an application for a sponsor licence, the company must have:

  • An established business presence in the UK;
  • A fixed office address (i.e. not a virtual or home office); and
  • A suitable employee to nominate as the ‘Authorising Officer’. This person will take on overall responsibility for the sponsor licence but can delegate day-to-day immigration administration to a colleague. Further information regarding the role and responsibilities of the Authorising Officer can be reviewed here.

What does the application process involve?

The application process includes:

  • Completion of an online application form.
  • Submission of supporting corporate documentation. Documents may include (but are not limited to): VAT registration certificate, latest annual accounts, corporate bank account statement, employers’ liability insurance certificate and HMRC correspondence.
  • The Home Office may wish to visit the company before granting the licence. This is to ensure that the company is genuinely trading in the UK and has robust HR systems and procedures to comply with the ‘Sponsor Duties’. Duties include (but are not limited to): undertaking ‘Right to Work’ checks on existing staff and maintaining employee personnel files.

How long does sponsor licence approval take?

The Home Office does not guarantee processing times for this application type. Based on recent applications, the average processing time is four weeks for an established company that has been trading in the UK for more than 18 months.

The Home Office will undertake further background checks on some companies, particularly companies who have been trading in the UK for less than 18 months. The Home Office may also choose to visit these companies before granting a licence. For these reasons, the application process can extend to six-eight weeks.

How can Smith Stone Walters assist you in applying for a licence?

From January 2021, the UK’s immigration system will treat EU and non-EU citizens equally. If your business intends to recruit skilled migrants from early 2021, including workers from the EU, you should consider applying for a licence now.  

Smith Stone Walters has successfully assisted hundreds of companies in obtaining a Tier 2 sponsor licence and continues to file sponsorship applications during the current Covid-19 lockdown. 

Our dedicated team of immigration specialists is ready to ensure that your sponsor licence submission meets with strict Home Office eligibility requirements. Call us today. 

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