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Sponsorship for UK work visas: All you need to know

Working in the UK has its benefits. You get paid in pounds (£) which is the most valuable currency in Europe – over the Euro and Swiss Franc – and is even more valuable than the US Dollar. 

Also, working long-term (up to 5 years) in the UK typically leads to permanent residency. The country is welcoming to anyone that helps its economy. Not to mention British healthcare and education are among the best in the world. 

To work in the UK, you need a work visa and the majority of UK work visas require your employer to get a sponsorship licence. What is it all about? Find out in this post. 

UK Sponsorship Licence For Work Visas

UK employers hiring workers from outside the country usually need to apply for a sponsor licence. Notably, if you’re coming to the UK via the Skilled Worker visa route, your employer must get a sponsorship licence. Even temporary work visas require sponsorship. 

The Skilled Worker visa covers the majority of employable jobs open to foreigners in the UK. Hence, if you’re coming to work in the UK following a job offer, it’s likely that your job falls under the Skilled Worker visa. To confirm, you can check the list of eligible occupations on the GOV UK website. 

Only some individual visas, like the new High Potential Individual visa, do not require sponsorship. Investment visas like the Innovator visa and Start-up visa require a special kind of sponsorship known as Endorsement. 

Before your employer can apply for a sponsorship licence, they must some requirements on their part. Most important of all, they must not have had a sponsor licence revoked in the previous 12 months. 

There are two types of sponsorship licences available including:

  • Worker licence: this type covers the Skilled Worker visa and also the Senior or Specialist Worker, Minister of Religion, and International Sportsperson visas. 
  • Temporary worker licence: this category covers temporary job (6 months to 2 years) visas like the Creative Worker, Charity Worker, Graduate Trainee, Seasonal Worker, and Secondment Worker visas. 

UK sponsor licence application takes around 8 weeks to process. Medium and large companies pay a £1,476 processing fee while small businesses and charities pay £536.

If the sponsor licence application is successful, your employer will receive a licence rating. Usually, they’ll get an A-rating licence, that allows full sponsorship, and can start issuing certificates of sponsorship immediately. 

However, if you’re coming to the UK as an expansion worker, your employer will get a provisional rating and can only issue one certificate of sponsorship. To retain their A-rating licence, your employer must continue to meet the sponsor requirements. If they fall short, of any, the licence may be downgraded to a B-rating.

Certificate of Sponsorship

UK employers with an A-rating licence can issue multiple certificates of sponsorship for different workers, so long as their job is eligible. For a job to be eligible, the worker must have the skills, qualifications, or professional accreditations for it – and also documents to prove it. 

The licence is valid for 4 years. You can check the Register of licensed sponsors to confirm that your employer is eligible to issue you a certificate of sponsorship. 

The certificate of sponsorship is proof that your employer is your sponsor and also that your job meets the requirement. Note that getting a sponsorship certificate doesn’t mean you can start working in the UK. You still have to apply and obtain a visa to enter the country. Nevertheless, it’s one of the most important documents for a successful visa application. 

Notably, the certificate will contain a reference number that you must provide during your visa application. It will also contain your employer details – notably their sponsor licence number – and your job details. It’s not a physical document but a digital one. 

After getting your certificate of sponsorship, you must apply for your work visa within 3 months. The possibility of you having a successful visa application relies not on the sponsorship certificate alone; there are other requirements you must meet depending on your job type.

Generally, you must demonstrate English proficiency unless you’re a native English speaker. Also, you may be required to prove that you have enough money to support your stay. However, your employer can take up this responsibility and, if so, must state it in your certificate of sponsorship.

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