Wed | Jun 16, 2021

Immigration Corner | How to obtain an employer sponsorship licence

Published:Tuesday | January 26, 2021 | 12:09 AM

Dear Mr Bassie,

My family has a business in the United Kingdom (UK) and would like to be a sponsor for me and employ me in the business. Please advise whether this is possible.

– Y.B.

Dear Y.B.,

With respect to UK visa sponsorship, employers will usually need a sponsor licence to employ someone to work for them who is from outside the United Kingdom. This includes citizens of the European Union (EU), Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland who arrived in the UK after December 31, 2020. This includes unpaid work, like running a charity.

Persons will not need a licence to sponsor certain groups, for example:

• Irish citizens;

• Those with settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme;

• Those with indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

Persons should note that sponsoring someone does not guarantee that they will be allowed to go to, or stay in, the UK.


Persons applying for a sponsor licence should first check to see if the business is eligible. Those persons should then choose the type of licence they want to apply for, and this will depend on what type of worker they want to sponsor. The next step would be to decide who will manage sponsorship within their business. Having completed the foregoing, persons should then apply online and pay the fee.

Persons should be aware that the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) may visit the place of business to check if it is suitable.


Applicants will be given a licence rating if their application is successful. They will be able to issue certificates of sponsorship if they have jobs that are suitable for sponsorship. Please note that the licence will be valid for four years. Persons should be aware that they may lose their licence if they do not meet their responsibilities as a sponsor.


To obtain a licence, persons cannot have unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences or certain other crimes, such as fraud or money laundering and/or had a sponsor licence revoked in the last 12 months.

Persons will need appropriate systems in place to monitor sponsored employees. The UKVI will review their application form and supporting documents. As stated previously, they may visit the business to make sure the applicants are trustworthy and capable of carrying out their duties.


The licence that is applied for will depend on whether the workers needed to fill the positions are ‘workers’ – for those with long-term job offers or ‘temporary workers’. Please note that it is possible to apply for a licence covering one or both types of worker.


A ‘worker’ licence will allow persons to employ people long term or permanently. This is split into:

• Skilled worker – the role must meet the job suitability requirements;

• Intra-company visas – this includes intra-company transfer and intra-company graduate trainee, for multinational companies which need to transfer established employees or graduate trainees to the UK;

• Minister of religion – for people coming to work for a religious organisation;

• Sportsperson –for elite sportspeople and coaches who will be based in the UK.


A ‘temporary worker’ licence will allow persons to employ people on a temporary basis. This is split into:

• Creative or sporting worker – to work as a high-level sportsperson (up to one year), entertainer or artist (up to two years);

• Charity worker – for unpaid workers at a charity (up to one year);

• Religious worker – for those working in a religious order or organisation (two years);

• Government-authorised exchange worker – work experience (one year), research projects or training; for example, practical medical or scientific training (two years) to enable a short-term exchange of knowledge;

• International agreement worker – where the worker is coming to do a job which is covered by international law; for example, employees of overseas governments;

• Seasonal worker – for those coming to the UK for up to six months to do farm work.

I hope this helps.

John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email: