How to fast-track your
sponsor licence

When making an application for a sponsor licence, you can usually expect to wait several weeks to receive a decision from the Home Office. Most sponsor licence applications are dealt with in less than 8 weeks.

Employers should factor in this waiting time when planning the recruitment timeline for their new sponsored workers. An employer cannot begin assigning Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) to migrant workers until their application for a sponsor licence has been approved. Likewise, the employee cannot apply for their visa until they have been issued with a CoS.

The 8-week processing time to secure a sponsor licence can therefore significantly impact how quickly an employer can onboard a new sponsored worker if they are not already an approved sponsor. However, in some cases you may be able to fast-track your application to the front of the queue for a faster decision.

Getting a faster decision

If your business needs to secure sponsor approval urgently, you may be able to pay to get a faster decision. The pre-licence priority service allows applicants to pay an extra £500 to get a decision within 10 working days.

This service is limited to a small number of applications every working day. Faster decisions are allocated on a first come, first served basis, in the order that requests arrive.

Smith Stone Walters regularly submits requests to the priority service on behalf of our clients wishing to expedite the pre-licence approval process. We recommend employers utilise the service where the need to hire skilled workers is time critical.

Who can use the pre-licence priority service?

To be eligible to use the service:

  • You must have submitted an application for a sponsor licence by completing the UKVI ‘Online sponsor application registration’. Once you have registered, you will be able to log into the UKVI ‘Sponsor Application log in’ page. You must then complete the online application form and submit specified documents to prove you are eligible and suitable. These documents are listed in Appendix A of the sponsor guidance.
  • The request must not already be in progress or allocated to a caseworker.
  • You must submit a fully completed application to the pre-licence priority service.

Important Note: The pre-licence priority service is currently unavailable for sponsor licence applications under the following routes:

  • Global Business Mobility (GBM) UK Expansion Worker
  • Global Business Mobility (GBM) Service Supplier Worker
  • Global Business Mobility (GBM) Secondment Worker
  • Scale-up Worker.

Any requests made to the pre-licence priority service for these applications will not be accepted.

How to apply

Before you can use the pre-licence priority service, you must firstly submit your sponsor licence application. Full guidance on how to apply for a sponsor licence can be found within the Workers and Temporary Workers Guidance for Sponsors.

Once your application has been accepted, you will receive an email offering you the chance to apply for the enhanced service.

To take up the offer, you should email, with a completed priority service – email request form as an attachment.

You will need to attach the electronically signed submission sheet, along with all relevant documentation, to your priority request. If you are not sure what documentation you need to provide, please check the guidance for sponsors.

The priority service is open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays. Any requests made outside these hours will not be considered. A maximum of 30 priority service requests will be accepted each day. Please note that due to recent events (COVID-19), this is subject to change.

After you apply

Smith Stone Walters has helped many clients successfully fast-track their sponsor licence application using the service. If the request has been successful, we will receive an email from the priority service team letting us know that our client’s request has been accepted, along with further instructions. We also receive a second email containing a Worldpay link which our caseworkers will use to pay the appropriate fee. Those using the priority service have 72 hours (including weekends) from when the second email is received to pay the fee. If payment is not made within that time, the priority request will expire and another application will need to be submitted for consideration.

There are several reasons why requests may not be successful, for example if:

  • The request is ineligible for the service
  • The daily allocation limit has been reached
  • The priority request has been submitted outside of the service’s operating hours.

If you do not receive a response, you should assume that your request has not been successful.

Processing times

Eligible requests that have been successfully made will be considered within 10 working days. The 10-day period begins the following working day from when the payment is made. For example, if you make a payment on Monday, the consideration period will begin on Tuesday.

You may not receive an outcome within the 10 working days if your request is complex or if extra checks are required. If the Home Office requests further information within the 10-day timescale and you do not send this information in due course, your request may be rejected and no refund will be issued. For this reason, the Authorising Officer listed in your licence application should ensure they are checking their email (including junk mail) regularly.

If your consideration is delayed for other reasons outside of normal case working processes (for example, a technical error), you may be eligible for a refund.

Using the pre-licence priority service does not guarantee that your request will be approved.

Where to get help

If you have any technical problems with the pre-licence priority service, you can contact the Home Office business helpdesk on 0300 1234699, or email

If you need help with preparing your application for a sponsor licence, Smith Stone Walters can help. Our dedicated sponsor licencing team are experienced in submitting applications for organisations of all sizes, across a range of sectors. To find out how we can support your business, please contact us today.

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