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UK Sponsorship License: Hire Foreign Workers in the UK

With high labour shortages currently facing the UK, companies may find themselves looking to broaden their talent pool through sponsoring employee visas. The first step to doing so is obtaining a UK Sponsorship License. 

What is a UK Sponsorship License?

A UK Sponsorship License allows UK-based companies to employ foreign-nationals, including citizens of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland who arrived in the UK after December 31, 2020.

There are currently two types of licenses: “worker” and “temporary worker.”

The “worker licence” allows companies to sponsor skilled workers or intra-company transfers for short-term, long-term or permanently, depending on the worker’s visa.

Alternatively, the “temporary worker” license allows companies to sponsor employees for a defined period of time (typically 6 months - 2 years) for things such as scaling up a fast growing business, work-exchange programs, graduate training, setting up a new brand or subsidiary, work transfers, and more.

How can I receive a sponsorship license?

To receive a UK Sponsorship License, you will need to ensure your company and the roles you are looking to fill qualify, then fill out an application.

Eligibility criteria

  • The company must be operating within the UK
  • The company must not have any “unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences or certain other crimes, such as fraud or money laundering”
  • The company must not have had a sponsorship license revoked in the last 12 months
  • The company must have the ability to properly monitor sponsored employees and the sponsorship management system

There are not currently any restrictions or requirements for company size, type or length of operation. 

How long does UK Sponsorship approval take?

Typically, first time applications take up to 8 weeks, though the process can be as fast as 10 business days with priority service.

How much does a Sponsorship License cost?

The size of your business determines the license cost, which ranges from £536 (small business/charitable sponsors) to £1,476 (medium/large sponsors).

Small businesses are defined as having two of the following:

  • An annual turnover of less than £10.2 million
  • Total assets worth less than £5.1 million
  • 50 employees or fewer 

It’s worth noting that the application fee is the same whether you apply for a worker license, temporary worker license, or both, though there is an additional fee if you wish to upgrade from a temporary worker license to a worker or dual license at a later date.

How long is a Sponsorship License valid?

Upon approval, UK Sponsorship licenses are valid for 4 years, though your license can be revoked if you do not meet the sponsorship responsibilities.

If you’re ready to apply for a license, check out our UK Sponsor License Checklist to get started. If you’d rather have someone walk you through the process, our Case Managers can handle the application for you - from collecting required documents to completing the application on your behalf. Schedule a call today to learn more.

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