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Corporate Visa Services

Employing Skilled Workers

Our Guidance On Employing Skilled Workers

Organisations wishing to employ skilled workers from outside the UK or Ireland must hold an up-to-date sponsor licence. It’s important to bear in mind that sponsorship places a responsibility on the employer throughout the life of the licence which includes reporting and updating the Home Office on any changes to the organisation itself or to its sponsored employees.

As the main route into the UK for overseas workers, the Skilled Worker sponsor process requires employers to demonstrate they are offering genuine employment at an appropriate skill level with relevant qualifications, and at the correct rates of pay.

Skilled Worker Sponsorship Fees

Fees must be paid for:

  • The application of a sponsor license
  • Renewing a sponsor license
  • Extending a sponsor license
  • Individual certificates of sponsorship

Home Office handling charges for sponsors’ license applications are £536 for small sponsors and £1,476 for large sponsors. Our handling fees ensure applications achieve a successful outcome and are completely transparent with no hidden charges.

  • Assistance with sponsor license application: small organizations £1950
  • Assistance with sponsor license application: large organizations £2950
  • Significant changes to SL details /Adding an additional category £250
  • Renewing a sponsor license & 4 years of administrative support: small £1450
  • Renewing a sponsor license & 4 years of administrative support: large £2450
  • Documents check and trial UKVI audit at sponsor’s office £995
  • Issuing a Certificate of Sponsorship only (including restricted CoS) £1000

Other Skilled Worker Charges

In addition to Skilled Worker sponsorship fees employers may also be subject to an Immigration Skills Charge for every migrant sponsored on a Skilled Worker visa. This is to be paid if they’re applying from overseas to work in the UK for 6 months or more, or from within the UK for leave to remain. The cost varies according to company size and length of employment.

Small organizations or charities:
£364 for 12 months of employment plus £182 for every 6-month extension

All other organizations:
£1,000 for 12 months of employment plus £500 for every 6-month extension

How Long Does A Sponsor Licence Last?

A sponsor licence lasts four years from the date it is granted and will need to be renewed at the end of this timeframe.

Skilled Worker Sponsor Application Requirements

To apply for a sponsor licence employers must:

  • Complete an online application
  • Pay a fee and the Immigration Skills Charge
  • Show evidence of operating and trading in the UK by supplying at least four of the following documents to demonstrate eligibility to become a sponsor
  • Current corporate bank account
  • Employer’s liability insurance
  • Proof of listing on the London Stock Exchange or Financial Conduct Authority
  • Audited annual report
  • Registration with HMRC
  • Company tax return
  • VAT registration certificate

Meet certain criteria such as having an HR system in place, an ability to host visits by the Home Office to check compliance, and having a genuine vacancy available.

Skilled Worker Responsibilities As An Employer

Organisations need to prove that the available position is set at an appropriate skill level with suitable rates of pay and, in many cases, their previous efforts to recruit a settled worker. However, there are some roles that automatically qualify from the government’s shortage occupation list, for example physical scientists and civil engineers.

Duties And Obligations Of A Skilled Worker Sponsor

From the moment an organisation is granted a licence number, the Home Office expects certain duties to be undertaken. These include:

Keeping up-to-date records of information on sponsored workers such as passports, status documents, biometric residence permits
Holding documents related to recruitment practices
Recording attendance of migrant workers and any specific changes of circumstance related to their roles
Monitoring certain employee activities
Fully co-operating with the Home Office which may include site visits

Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence Processing Times

Due to the complexity of the process, it takes some companies much longer than anticipated to collate the relevant information required. We advise our clients to allow between 2 to 3 months for the sponsor application process.

What Happens If An Application Is Rejected?

The Home Office has the right to refuse an application if supporting evidence is lacking or information is submitted incorrectly. There’s also no right to appeal should the application fail, which can result in wasted time and money if you’re unfamiliar with the system.

Working with UK Visas will help to ensure your application has the best possible chance of success with tailored advice and support throughout the process.

Skilled Worker Certificate Of Sponsorship (COS)

Once organisations have been granted a licence to sponsor, it’s then possible for them to issue a certificate of sponsorship to a migrant under the Skilled Worker visa system. This is done via an online management system which generates a reference number that your worker will need for their application.

This reference number will remain active for 3 months after which it expires. COS must contain a start date for employment.

Skilled Worker Visa Minimum Salary

There is a minimum salary cap for Tier 2 visa applicants of £25,600 or the appropriate rate for the job (whichever is higher).

For jobs on the Standard Occupational Classification Code Appendix there is a threshold of £20,480 for new entrants to reflect newly qualified workers.

How To Renew A Sponsor Licence

If your licence is due to expire, a renewal application must be made in order to continue to be a sponsor. This can be done from 90 days before the final date.

The renewal can be processed through your sponsorship management system account and will be subject to a fee. The Home Office has the right to see your documentation again as part of this process.

How To Become A Skilled Worker Sponsor

Skilled Worker sponsorship is available to employers to hire skilled workers outside the UK when a search within the UK has been unsuccessful or specialist skills are required.

As an employer you will need to apply for a Skilled Worker sponsorship licence online via a registered sponsorship management system. Once a licence is granted you can issue a certificate of sponsorship (CoS) to workers who meet the correct criteria.

You will also be expected to fulfil a number of sponsor duties.

What Is A Standard Occupational Classification Code?

In the process of assigning a certificate of sponsorship, as a sponsor you will be asked to choose a standard occupation classification code to match the position you’re recruiting for. Codes can be found on the Gov.uk website.

If a correlating title doesn’t appear, search for the job using key words to match the most appropriate job description.

UK Visas Provides A Comprehensive Skilled Worker Visa Service

Whether you’re arranging sponsorship for the first time, or need ongoing support for your recruitment requirements, the rules and regulations can seem overwhelming. As UK Visa experts, we steer thousands of companies through the licence process. We’ll support your application so you can rest assured your experience will be as stress-free as possible.

  • We have a great relationship with the UK Visas team, who provide a prompt, professional service and expert immigration advice. They take the worry out of the visa process, working efficiently even when dealing with numerous requests at once.

    Sarah Bond
    Human Resources Advisor
  • I can honestly say everyone that I deal with at UK Visas are very efficient, super helpful and informative and extremely nice (especially Ana and Garima). Also patient with all my questions – nothing is ever too much trouble, and very prompt with their responses.

    Jackie Thompson
    HR Assistant
  • I’ve worked with UK Visas for almost 10 years now, and the support and advice never fails. From the sponsorship of new employees to training for the whole team, UK Visas are always extremely helpful and knowledgeable. I would highly recommend their services!

    Helena Wittenbach
    Head of Human Resources,
  • Having worked with UK Visas for more than eight years, I cannot recommend their services enough. We have worked with them on a wide variety of immigration topics, including complex licence matters (following acquisitions), day to day sponsorship processes, and reporting; and we have always received an amazing service.

    Members of the team are responsive and come back to our queries quickly, they are always polite, and go out of their way to be as helpful as possible. Thank you to all of the team for the wonderful ongoing support you provide!

    Amy Gadsby
    Director, Human Resources - EMEA
  • We have worked with UK Visas for a number of years and the service that is provided is excellent.

    No query is too big or too small. Always accommodating and helpful. Thank you team!

    Louise Goddard
    Executive Business Partner to CEO and the Board
  • We have worked with UK Visas for over 10 years, since we initially requested obtaining a Sponsor Licence. From day one, their guidance, communication, professionalism, efficiency and support has been and continues to be exemplary, with no request too much.

    Thank you and we look forward to continuing the relationship.

    Sara Searle
    Head of Human Resources and Payroll
  • I’ve worked with UK Visas for over 6 years and always find them helpful, friendly and experts in what they do. I know I can always call them up or send them an email and I will get a detailed response, fast. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to anyone to help and support with your visa journeys.

    Gerry Weiss
    HR Business Partner
  • We have been using UK Visas for many years and service is always expeditious, even as number of requests have increased in recent years. The team advise on a wide range of queries and are always supportive, informative and clear in their advice.

    Jodie Plom
    HR Administrator CVS Vets
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