Following Brexit, the free movement of workers from the EU will end and this will have a significant impact on UK employers who currently enjoy the ease of hiring skilled migrants from the EU. Under the post-Brexit immigration system, EU nationals will eventually be subject to the same immigration requirements as non-EU nationals and require sponsorship from a UK employer and a visa to work in the UK.

The government already introduced a White Paper in December 2018 setting out its intention to set up a single immigration system and end free movement which was reiterated in the Queen’s speech in October 2019. UK’s future skills-based immigration system.

At present, we have a dual system of admitting only highly skilled workers from outside the EU, and workers of all skill levels from the EU. We will replace this with a single route which gives access to highly skilled and skilled workers from all countries. Those coming to the UK on this route will need an employer to sponsor them. 

Employers will need to apply for a sponsor licence from the Home Office before they can hire new EU workers. Currently, a sponsor licence is valid for up to four years. The sponsorship system is designed for skilled workers who must have a certain skill level and be paid a minimum salary according to government guidelines. Each sponsor is given an allocation of virtual sponsorship certificates which provide a unique reference number that a worker can use to apply for a visa. This enables the Government to track where the migrant is employed. For sponsoring workers under the Tier 2 (General) regime a Resident Labour Market Test is required in most cases to justify the sponsorship certificate and the need to hire a foreign worker as opposed to a settled worker.

Home Office considerations before granting a Sponsor License

The Home Office will take need to establish the following before it decides to grant an organisation a sponsor licence:-

  1. Are you a genuine organisation operating lawfully in the UK?

  2. Are you honest, dependable and reliable? – to judge this, they look at your history and background, the key personnel named on your application and any people involved in your day to day running

  3. Are you capable of carrying out your sponsor duties and evidencing your compliance – they judge this by looking at your current human resources and recruitment practices to make sure that you will be able to fulfil your sponsor duties

  4. If applying under Tier 2 (General), can you offer genuine employment that meets the Tier 2 (General) skill level and appropriate rates of pay?

Sponsor Duties

There are a number of duties sponsoring organisations have to undertake which are very detailed and that some businesses may find onerous. The Home Office will expect an employer to take their responsibilities very seriously and audits of their premises pre or post-application are expected to check that the sponsor can comply with the obligations and ongoing compliance with the duties is a must. Failure to adhere to the sponsor duties can result in the suspension and loss of a licence and termination of a worker’s visa and therefore right to work for an organisation. therefore, thorough preparation by a company is essential even before the actual physical application is submitted.

The sponsor duties include: –

  • Record keeping duties

  • Reporting duties

  • Compliance with the law

  • Cooperation with the Home Office

Financial considerations for business

It is important that businesses budget for the sponsor licencing costs for the future and their recruitment requirements. Licence applications fees are currently between £536 and £1,476, depending on the size of the business. Other costs include the fee to assign a Certificate of Sponsorship to an individual worker and the Immigration Skills Charge which is £364-£1000 per year and per worker that is sponsored.

Applying for a licence – Procedure

The proposed sponsor will need to submit an online application and provide a number of original documents or certified copies of documents by post. In addition, they should send a detailed covering letter to the Home Office answering various questions about the organisation and recruitment practices. The documents requested need to be exact and there is very little room for flexibility. The documents need to be submitted by post within five working days of submitting the online application. 

The sponsorship licence application process is complex and bureaucratic, and many applications fail due to providing insufficient documentary evidence or misunderstanding of the eligibility criteria and recruitment conditions required which can have a detrimental impact on a business.

We can guide you through the daunting process and ensure that you fulfil all the criteria and required documentation to secure the licence and continue to develop your business prospering from the global talent the world stage has to offer.

For more information and advice on sponsor licence applications and our competitive fixed fee packages please contact Shamaila Khan, Business Immigration Solicitor on Email: or Telephone: +44 (0)20 7925 2244