Skip to content

Ward Hadaway has many years of experience in supporting businesses through immigration matters and enabling them to employ people from outside the UK in a seamless and stress-free way.

Our specialist immigration lawyers offer a full sponsorship management service, acting as registered legal representatives and Level 1 Users, as well as providing compliance audits and training for ongoing licence management and duties.

What is a sponsor licence?

One immigration process that we regularly manage for clients is the sponsor licence application process.

A sponsor licence is required in order for employers to recruit individuals from outside the UK who do not otherwise have the right to work in the UK.

Employers can obtain a sponsor licence to sponsor a Skilled Worker to be a UK based employee or to transfer workers to the UK for a short term contract under the Global Business Mobility routes. Sponsor licences are also needed to sponsor workers temporarily under a Temporary Worker licence.

An employer with a valid sponsor licence agrees to sponsor an individual that is working for them and will have strict compliance conditions that they must adhere to whilst they remain a registered sponsor.

Who do I need a sponsor licence for?

An employer must have a sponsor licence to sponsor any individual who is not a “settled worker” or who does not otherwise have the appropriate immigration permission to work in the UK.

A settled worker is a person who is:

  • A British citizen
  • A person with pre-settled status or settled status granted under the EU Settlement Scheme
  • A British overseas territories citizen (except for those from sovereign base areas in Cyprus)
  • A Commonwealth citizen with a UK Ancestry route visa or with the right of abode in the UK
  • Anyone who has indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK or is otherwise settled within the meaning of section 33(2A) of the Immigration Act 1971)
  • An Irish citizen

An individual will have appropriate immigration permission which allows them to work in the UK if they have:

  • Permission as the partner of a British citizen or a settled person
  • Permission as a dependent of someone who is in the UK with a valid visa
  • Permission under a student visa and their conditions of stay permit them to work for a certain number of hours per week during term-time

This list is not exhaustive. If you are unsure whether an individual has appropriate immigration permission to work for you in the UK, please contact us to discuss this further.

Anyone who does not fall into one of the above categories will require a visa to live and work in the UK.

How do I apply for a sponsor licence?

To become a registered sponsor, you must complete a detailed and extensive online application process, provide supporting documents and a covering letter, all of which must satisfy UK Visa’s and Immigration’s (UKVI) exact criteria.

When assessing your suitability to become a sponsor, UKVI will consider:

  • Whether you are a genuine business operating lawfully in the UK
  • Whether you are honest, dependable and reliable (UKVI will look at the business’ background as well as key personnel who will be involved in managing your licence)
  • Whether you are capable of carrying out your sponsor duties
  • Whether you are able to offer genuine employment that meets the required skill level and any applicable salary requirements.

For further information on how you apply for a sponsor licence, visit our Visa Guidelines Hub here.

How can we help?

With our extensive experience and specialist immigration skill set, our team of highly qualified solicitors has a 100% success rate with sponsor licence applications and can provide a range of services to assist businesses with the process. Further details can be found on our Visa Guidelines Hub or alternatively, please contact one our immigration lawyers to discuss  further.

Free visa guidelines resource

We have recently launched a dedicated visa guidelines hub which is full of clear, useful guidance to help those wishing to live, work and recruit into the UK navigate the complex legal territory that is immigration law.

Applying for a visa is a complex process. On this dedicated website, our immigration experts have cut through the mountains of regulation. We present clear answers to the frequently asked questions of those who want to move to the UK to work or study, and of businesses wishing to recruit individuals from overseas.


For details in relation to certain immigration applications, please click here.

Contact a member of our team today

    Your personal information will be processed in accordance with our Privacy Policy

    Contact a specialist

    Flora Mewies

    Partner | Employment & Head of Immigration

    +44 (0) 330 137 3156

    +44 (0) 752 522 5480

    Email Flora Mewies

    Read bio

    Roisin Patton

    Partner | Employment

    +44 (0) 330 137 3187

    +44 (0) 783 488 9938

    Email Roisin Patton

    Read bio

    Gillian Burns

    Managing Associate | Employment

    +44 (0) 330 137 3152

    +44 (0)773 846 2372

    Email Gillian Burns

    Read bio

    Natalie Payne

    Associate | Employment

    +44 (0) 330 137 3174

    +44 (0) 7725 757 256

    Email Natalie Payne

    Read bio

    Isabelle Cernis

    Solicitor | Employment

    +44 (0) 330 137 3170

    +44 (0) 791 257 8938

    Email Isabelle

    Read bio

    Meet the whole team

    What people say

    • Laura and Arshia delivered a superb Sponsor Management Training workshop to UK Biobank’s HR team. The session was informative, had an appropriate amount of content to refresh our knowledge and understanding and has helped us to identify and manage risks to ensure our organisation remains compliant with UK legislation. The whole team enjoyed Laura and Arshia’s warm and engaging delivery style, their approach helped the team to learn, ask questions and feel more confident in dealing with complex issues. Their ability to convey complex information to their audience in an easy to understand format was super and I highly recommend their workshops.

      Caroline Munday, Director of People and Organisational Development, UK Biobank

    What we're thinking