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In November 2022, the Office of National Statistics shared their findings on the state of the UK workforce. Their research revealed that 13.3% of all businesses were experiencing a shortage of workers.

Since workers are often the backbone of most companies, finding and hiring the best workers for your team is essential. Sometimes, you need to cast a wider net in order to fill highly skilled roles.

Before you can start hiring overseas workers, you need to get to grips with the Employer Sponsorship Licence rules and regulations. Once you have secured a UK visa sponsor licence, you will be able to issue a certificate of sponsorship. You will need one for each employee you hire.

If you want to become an A-rated sponsor, read the advice from our UK immigration lawyer experts. We’ll cover everything you need to know about becoming a UK visa sponsor.

Who needs a UK sponsor licence?

Every employer will need a UK sponsor licence before they can recruit workers from outside the UK. The role you are recruiting for needs to be an eligible role, meaning that it has a suitable pay and skill level. Examples include skilled workers and healthcare workers.

Whether you run a large company or a small charity, you will need to apply to become a UK sponsor before you can hire workers from outside the UK. Thankfully, the fees for small companies and charitable organisations are lower than those for medium to large companies.

How much does it cost to become a UK visa sponsor?

There are different fee bands depending on the size of your organisation. Some companies are eligible to pay the lower band because they are classed as a small company or are operating a charitable organisation.

Becoming a UK visa sponsor is not as simple as paying the application fee once and being able to sponsor workers indefinitely. You will first need to apply to become a UK visa sponsor. 

Next, you will have to apply this sponsor to a specific worker using something known as a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). In addition to this flat fee, you also have to pay the Immigration Skills Charge. There are fees associated with this depending on the length of the contract and the type of workers you are hiring.

If you ever fall short in your commitments, you may be downgraded from an A-rated employer to a B-rated employer. Once you have made the required changes to your organisation to be eligible for A-rating again, you will need to pay to have your status reconsidered.

And finally, you will need to renew your licence every four years. Naturally, there will be a fee attached to the renewal application.

These are just the fees that fall on the employer’s shoulders. Some employers will also choose to cover their employee’s application fees as an added incentive to join their company. This will include their visa application fee and their immigration healthcare surcharge.

As you can see, the cost of overseas hiring quickly begins to add up. But for many organisations, the benefits will far outweigh the costs.

What are the current UK sponsor licence fees?

The UK sponsor licence fees will vary depending on the size of your organisation. 

  • For a small company or charitable organisation, the cost of the licence application is £536 every four years. 
  • For a large company, they will pay £1,476. 

This fee covers the cost of securing your sponsorship status and will earn you a spot on the official sponsors register.

In addition to this, you will also need to pay a flat fee of £199 per Certificate of Sponsorship per employee. On top of this, you will also pay the Immigration Skills Charge. 

  • The full rate for large organisations is £1000 for the first year, while small companies and charitable organisations will pay £364 for the first year. 
  • For every additional six months, up to 5 years, large organisations will pay £500 while small companies will pay £182.

Certain occupations are exempt from the Immigration Skills Charge, such as occupations with a shortage of skilled workers in the UK, such as biological scientists.

If your company is downgraded to a B-rating, you will have to pay a fee of £1,476 after following the action plan provided by UK Visas and Immigration to get you back on track.

Is it worth becoming a UK visa sponsor?

While the costs associated with UK sponsor licence fees might seem steep – particularly if you are hiring multiple workers – there are considerable benefits. 

  • When you are a UK visa sponsor, you can widen your talent search to anywhere in the world. This means you can hire the best of the best and never worry that you are going to face skills gaps in your organisation.
  • Recruitment times will be accelerated if you have a UK visa sponsorship licence. This means that you can move forward with plans for growth and expansion with confidence.
  • Workers will find you. Many workers seek out employers that will be able to assist with their UK visa application. This means the best talent might seek you out before you’ve even had a chance to advertise a role.
  • Your company will become internationally recognised thanks to your worldwide recruitment strategy. If you have your sights set on international expansion, this is one way to begin to expand your global reach.
  • You can stay ahead of the competition by ensuring that you are never facing a skills shortage. After the UK left the European Union, it became much harder for UK employers to expand their search to Europe. By securing your UK sponsorship licence, you can gain access to these markets again.

How can our expert immigration Lawyers help?

Navigating the complex world of UK sponsor licences is always going to be daunting. By working with A Y & J Solicitors, you can remove the stress and increase your chances of success. We have in-depth knowledge of the selection process employed by UKVI, so we can guide you through the application process. By preparing the best possible application, we can ensure you are quickly able to start hiring the international talent you need to grow your company. Get in touch today to learn more. Stay Connect with our Legal Blog & You can write for us Law


Salman Rahat, a celebrated Pakistani author, captivates global audiences with his unique narratives. Explore his evocative storytelling and diverse characters on Starsbiopoint, reflecting profound cultural insights and universal emotions in contemporary literature.

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