If you are a UK employer or education provider you can legally employ skilled and temporary migrant workers, or teach students from outside the EEA (European Economic Area), through sponsorship under Tier 2, Tier 4 and Tier 5 of the points-based system.

Tier 2 and 5 Sponsor Licence

Sponsor Licence is the 1st step in the process of employing the non-EU workers. Sponsor, such as an Employer, must have a Tier 2 or Tier 5 Sponsor Licence from the UK Home Office. If employer does not have such a Licence then the company can apply for it and our company can help with the application. Very often a company is happy to hire a worker who comes to us for an advice and are willing to apply for a Sponsor Licence and comply with the rest of the Sponsor’s duties, especially if the job is very skilled or on Shortage Occupation List.

Once the company has a Sponsor licence, it will be placed on the Register of Sponsors (Employers) on the UKVI website and will have access to the Sponsor Management System, known as SMS. A licence can be just for one category, for example, Tier 2 General or can be for more than one type, such as Tier 2 General and Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer.

Sponsor Licence is issued for the company, it is not connected to a migrant (not connected to a specific employee). A licence is, in general, for the company to sponsor non-EU nationals.

Once the licence has been issued, an employer can proceed to the 2nd step. An authorised person from the company can log in to Sponsor Management System (SMS) on the UKVI website and assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (COS).  A COS relates to a specific migrant.

In case of Intra-Company Transfer, Minister of Religion and Sportsperson a Sponsor can login into SMS and assign a COS. In case of Tier 2 General there are 2 types of certificates: restricted and unrestricted.

Once a COS has been assigned, a migrant can finally apply for a Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa, which is the 3rd step in the process of securing a work visa.


If you are looking to employ skilled workers from outside the EEA in either a permanent, long-term or temporary job, Tiers 2 & 5 of the Points-based system will apply.

Under Tier 2 a skilled worker can apply to enter or remain in the UK if they have a job offer here from a licensed sponsor with a valid certificate of sponsorship. They must also pass the points-based assessment. There are 4 categories of skilled worker under Tier 2 of the points-based system:

  • Tier 2 General (skilled workers)
  • Tier 2 (Sports persons)
  • Tier 2 (Ministers of Religion)
  • Tier 2 (Intra-company transfer)

Under Tier 5 a temporary worker can apply to enter the UK for a short time if, in the majority of cases, they have a job offer from a licensed sponsor and pass the points-based assessment. There are 5 categories of temporary worker under Tier 5 of the points-based system available for sponsorship (note the youth mobility scheme is not an employment route):

  • Creative and sporting
  • Charity workers
  • Religious workers
  • Government authorised exchange
  • International agreement

SPONSORSHIP DUTIES UNDER THE POINTS-BASED SYSTEM (TIERS 2 & 5) – there are a number of responsibilities if you opt to become a UK sponsor:

  • You must obtain a sponsor licence before you can employ skilled workers under Tiers 2 & 5
  • You must issue a certificate of sponsorship to each prospective or existing Tier 2 or Tier 5 migrant worker so they can apply for a new visa or extension of their stay
  • You must use the sponsorship management system to fulfil your record-keeping and reporting duties so as to monitor your worker’s compliance with their immigration conditions and report any breaches.
  • Once you have successfully applied for your licence you will be added to the published register of sponsors held by the Home Office and you can issue the certificate of sponsorship to any prospective employees. This is not a physical document but a unique reference number recording details of the employee and the position they hold which will allow them to make their Tier 2 application.


If you are an education provider in the UK you can sponsor a foreign student to undertake a long course of study by obtaining a sponsor licence. The student must apply under Tier 4 of the points-based system. You do not need to sponsor a student on a short course of study as they can come to the UK as a student or child visitor (if under 18).

Sponsor Licences for Education Providers

Education providers wishing to enrol overseas students from outside the EEA are required to ‘sponsor’ them under Tier 4 of the Points Based System. Education providers will need to obtain sponsor licences from the Home Office. The rules on obtaining sponsorship licences can be complicated and our legal team is on hand to assist you with obtaining a licence. The concept of sponsorship in relation to Tier 4 is that it provides evidence that the student will study for an approved qualification and places duties on education providers that it must abide by.

Obtaining Tier 4 Sponsor Licence

As a Tier 4 Sponsor you must meet the standards set for Highly Trusted Sponsors (HTS) and once you have met this standard, the Home Office will give you an A-rating/B-rating for 12 months. You must then apply for HTS status no later than 12 months from the date that you were granted your licence. The sponsor licence will be valid for four years and if you wish to continue to be a sponsor you must renew the licence.

Assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship (CAS)

Once you have a sponsor licence under Tier 4, you will be able to assign a CAS to students wishing to come to the UK to study. The CAS is valid for six month and if the prospective student does not use the CAS, it will automatically become invalid and you will need to re-issue the CAS. As a licenced sponsor, you will need to comply with your duties which include informing the Home Office of students who were granted leave but failed to enrol and students who are continuously absent for significant periods of time.

Our Services

  • We Advise education providers on the procedure for applying for a sponsor licence;
  • We Act as the Key Contact or Level 1 User or Level 2 User of the company;
  • We Advise employers/employees on the likelihood of getting sponsored under Tier 4;
  • We Advise and represent clients in making their leave to remain/entry clearance applications;
  • We Advise and represent clients’ dependants seeking dependent visas;