Employing migrants - an overview

How to apply for a sponsor licence

To apply for a sponsor licence you must:

  • check your business is eligible
  • choose the type of licence
  • decide who will manage the sponsorship within your business
  • apply online and pay the fee


To get a licence, you cannot have:

  • unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences or certain other crimes, eg fraud or money laundering
  • any history of failing to carry out your sponsorship duties

You will need appropriate systems in place to monitor sponsored employees.

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) will review your application form and supporting documents. They may visit your business to make sure you’re trustworthy and capable of carrying out your duties.

Types of licence

The licence you need depends on whether the workers you want to fill your jobs are:

  • Tier 2 - skilled workers with long-term job offers
  • Tier 5 - skilled temporary workers

You can apply for a licence covering either tier or both.

Tier 2 is for skilled workers who you want to employ long-term or permanently. It is split into:

  • General - the role must meet the job suitability requirements
  • Intra-Company Transfer - for multi-national companies which need to transfer employees to the UK
  • Minister of Religion - for people coming to work for a religious organisation (for up to three years)
  • Sportsperson - for elite sportspeople and coaches who will be based in the UK

Tier 5 is for skilled workers you want to employ on a temporary basis. It is split into:

  • Creative and Sporting - to work as a sportsperson (up to one year), entertainer or artist (up to two years)
  • Charity Worker - for unpaid workers (up to one year)
  • Religious Worker - for those doing preaching, pastoral and non-pastoral work (two years)
  • Government Authorised Exchange - work experience (one year), research projects or training, eg practical medical or scientific training (two years) to enable a short-term exchange of knowledge
  • International Agreement - where the worker is coming to do a job which is covered by international law, eg employees of overseas governments

Managing sponsorship

You will need to appoint people within your business to manage the sponsorship process when you apply for a licence. The roles are:

  • authorising officer
  • key contact
  • level 1 user

These roles can be filled by the same person or different people.

You can find out more about assigning the roles on the GOV.UK website.

Applying for your licence

You can apply online for your licence. You will need to print out the submission sheet at the end of the application to post to UKVI.

You'll also need to send the correct supporting documents to prove you are a genuine business.

Read more on applying for your licence on the GOV.UK website.