Employer sponsorship licensing

Since November 2008 all employers who wish to recruit foreign national workers have been required to register for a Sponsorship Licence with the United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA). Registration is mandatory if you wish to be eligible to recruit from the foreign labour pool.

We are fully qualified to manage all of your Points Based System employer licensing and sponsorship requirements. To find out how we can ensure the success of your organisation’s application for sponsorship licensing and registration please contact us.

The licensing process is one of the fundamental changes under the Points Based System. Before an employer can sponsor a migrant worker a Sponsorship Licence must be approved in advance by the UKBA.

Under the point based system only licensed sponsors will be eligible to issue potential migrant employees with a Certificate of Sponsorship. Migrants seeking to come to the UK under the PBS will need to obtain entry clearance, and a Certificate of Sponsorship issued by a licensed employer is required before an entry clearance application can be made. Furthermore, each potential migrant worker must also satisfy the points based assessment criteria for the visa category under which they are applying.

Please note that a potential employee’s Certificate of Sponsorship does not in any way guarantee or secure their visa if the supporting documentation for an application cannot be verified independently.

As an employer, you are prohibited from employing anyone who is not permitted to undertake the work in question. Sections 15–25 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 (the ‘2006 Act’) set out the law on the prevention of illegal migrant working. These provisions came into force on 29 February 2008. They replaced the previous offence under section 8 of the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996 (the ‘1996 Act’).

An employer who employs someone subject to immigration control who is aged over 16 and who is not entitled to undertake the work in question will be liable to pay a civil penalty of up to £10,000 per illegal worker. Section 15 of the 2006 Act provides that a notice of liability to pay a civil penalty of a specific amount can be served by the UK Border Agency on behalf of the Secretary of State.

How long is a sponsor’s licence valid for?

Licences are valid for four years, starting from the day it is issued or the day that applications start for the relevant tier of the points based system, whichever is the later.

Sponsorship licensing requirements

For your organisation to successfully apply for a licence and be added to the register of sponsors you must prove that you meet the following criteria:

  • you are a legitimate organisation working within the law in the United Kingdom;
  • there are no reasons to believe that you are a threat to immigration control; and
  • your organisation is committed to fulfilling its sponsorship duties.
When your application is approved you will be awarded an A-rating or a B-rating on the register.

As a licensed sponsor you are required to notify the UKBA if migrant employees do not comply with their immigration conditions, and you must also comply with a number of other sponsorship duties or you will risk losing your licence.

Under what circumstances will a licence be withdrawn?

Circumstances in which a sponsor will normally have their licence withdrawn include:

  • If it ceases to trade or operate, whether as a result of insolvency or for any other reason
  • It ceases to be accredited or registered with any body that it needs to be accredited/registered with in order to obtain a licence
  • If the prospective sponsor or another appropriate agency is an undischarged bankrupt, or legally prohibited from becoming a Company Director.
  • If the sponsor has provided forged, falsified documents or information to the UKBA
  • If the sponsor does not have adequate facilities to cope with the increased staff and no evidence has been provided regarding expansions

What penalties will apply for illegally employing migrant workers?

In line with the unveiling of the Points Based System, a new penalty system relating to the employment of illegal migrant workers will also be introduced. The new penalty regime consists of a civil penalty for employers who employ illegal migrant workers as a result of negligent recruitment and employment practices, and a criminal offence for those employers found to be knowingly employing migrant workers illegally. Each penalty carries a maximum two year prison sentence and/or an unlimited fine.

Use of representatives for licensing and sponsorship

Sponsors can elect to use an immigration service provider to handle its PBS affairs with the UKBA, provided that the immigration service provided is registered with the OISC or Law Society.

Money Back Guarantee

We believe all our clients should be completely happy with the service provided by us, for that reason we offer a money back guarantee.

If your application does not have a positive result, you will be eligible for a refund of your fees.


Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is not legal advice but general information on legal issues commonly encountered when dealing with immigration matters. All Prices include taxes, application processing and advice is performed within our UK offices. Please refer to full terms and conditions.
The Immigration Centre is a private company, regulated by the OISC (F201200553). We provide UK immigration solutions for our Private and Corporate clients, we are not an official government agency, and we are not affiliated with government agencies.

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