UK employers can find the workers they need to close the skills gap by becoming a UK visa sponsor. This will allow them to hire workers from outside the UK for up to five years. After five years, the worker can renew their work visa or apply for a settlement route.
Diversifying your workforce through international hiring is an excellent way to encourage growth in your company. It might seem daunting to navigate the UK sponsor licence application for the first time, but once you understand the requirements, it becomes a lot easier.
The good news is that there are also simple ways you can save on the sponsor licence application costs. By understanding the application process in detail, you can save money on your sponsor licence application costs and focus on growing your business.
In this guide, we will explore the costs associated with becoming a UK visa sponsor and the details you need to be aware of to ensure your application is successful and without delays.
How much does it cost to get a sponsor licence?
While the process of becoming a UK work visa sponsor isn’t too complicated, there are multiple steps in the process and different fees associated with each step. This means there isn’t a fixed fee associated with becoming a UK visa sponsor. The fees you can expect to pay include:
Sponsor licence fees
The amount you pay for your UK sponsor licence will vary depending on the following factors:
- The size and status of your organisation
- The type of workers you want to hire
|Type of licence||Small or charitable sponsors||Medium and large sponsors|
|Worker and Temporary Worker||£536||£1476|
|Add a Worker licence to an existing Temporary Worker licence||No fee||£940|
|Add a Temporary Worker licence to an existing Worker licence||No fee||No fee|
The UK visa sponsor licence lasts for four years, after which time you will need to reapply and pay the fees again. There are also penalties if your A-rated licence is downgraded to a B rating. You will need to pay £1476 for an action plan provided by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and then make the required improvements before your licence is revoked.
Faster decision time fees
If you need to expedite (speed up) your application and receive a decision in 10 working days, you may have the option to pay an additional £500. This option isn’t always available and is offered based on availability. You will be informed during the application process if you can pay to speed up the decision.
Certificate of sponsorship
Once you have been approved as a UK visa sponsor and hold a visa sponsor licence, you can then apply for a certificate of sponsorship for each individual you employ. This is a digital record attached to their visa application.
Again, this fee will vary depending on the type of licence and the nature of the work.
|Type of licence||Cost per certificate|
|Worker (except workers on the International Sportsperson visa)||£199|
|International Sportsperson visa, where the certificate of sponsorship is assigned for more than 12 months||£199|
|International Sportsperson visa, where the certificate of sponsorship is assigned for 12 months or less||£21|
You will need to pay this fee every time you would like to sponsor a foreign worker’s visa application. This fee will be refunded if their visa application is declined.
Immigration skills charge
Alongside the certificate of sponsorship fees, you may also need to pay the immigration skills charge. This fee will vary depending on the length of the worker’s contract and the size of your organisation. Certain professions are exempt from this fee. You can see a full list of the exempt occupation codes here.
|Duration of visa||Small or charitable sponsor||Medium to large sponsor|
|First 12 months||£364||£1000|
|Each additional 6 months||£182||£500|
This fee will also be refunded if the worker’s visa application is unsuccessful.
In addition to these fees, some visa sponsors will also choose to pay additional fees to attract the best and brightest workers. This could include paying for their visa application and their immigration health surcharge. These are optional fees and are not required to become a UK visa sponsor.
Workers and temporary workers: guidance for sponsors
There are two main types of worker visas: Workers and Temporary workers.
Broadly speaking, Worker visas are for skilled workers or long-term employment, while Temporary Worker visas are for specific types of temporary employment. To help you understand the requirements for each visa category, refer to the Home Office guidance found here.
Do I qualify as a small sponsor?
As you can see, companies that qualify for small company status can enjoy significant savings on their sponsor licence application costs. So, you might be wondering if your company would be considered a small company, or if you need to apply for the medium to large organisation visa sponsor.
A small company needs to meet two of the following factors:
- Your annual turnover is £10.2 million or less
- Your total assets are worth £5.1 million or less
- You have fewer than 50 employees
If you’re not sure if you meet the criteria for a small sponsor, you can contact the Business Helpdesk by email: email@example.com
Do I qualify as a charitable sponsor?
Likewise, charitable organisations will also qualify for the reduced fees, which can significantly lower the cost of recruiting from overseas. You will qualify as a charitable sponsor if you meet any of the following requirements:
- You are registered as a charity in England or Wales
- You are registered as a charity in Scotland
- You are registered as a charity in Northern Ireland – if you are not on the register, you can prove your status by showing that you claim charitable status for tax purposes
- You are an excepted charity
- You are an exempt charity
- You are an ecclesiastical corporation established for charitable purposes