Business Immigration

Moving people to the UK is our business.

Sponsorship Licences

UK based sponsors must register with the UK Border Agency and obtain a licence before sponsoring migrants. In order to obtain a licence, a prospective sponsor must apply for the licence and submit specified documents to the UK Border Agency. Then the UK Border Agency will carry out the necessary checks, such as investigating the sponsor’s or Key Personnel’s history or conducting an immigration audit. If there is a threat to immigration control then the application for the licence can be rejected. A Sponsor Licence application can be made online via the UK Border Agency’s website which takes approximately 30 minutes to complete. Once the online application is submitted, the sponsor must send their supporting documents and appropriate fee to the UK Border Agency within 10 working days. otherwise the application will not be considered as valid. Sponsors can currently apply for a licence under Tier 2 (skilled worker), Tier 4 (Students) and Tier 5 (temporary workers). Once the online application is submitted and the documents have been received by the UK Border Agency, they will carry out the necessary checks. The UK Border Agency will give a score of 1 (fully meets all the criteria), 2 (partially meets the criteria) or 3 (does not meet the criteria) based on the sponsor’s human resource systems, pre-licence compliance visit (immigration audit) and whether the sponsor has received a civil penalty in the past. As a result of the UK Border Agency’s checks, the sponsor will be rated either A (a 1 score) or B (a 2 score) based on the sponsor’s ability meet their sponsor duties. If the sponsor is B rated then the UK Border Agency will issue a plan of action as to how to obtain an A rating. If the sponsor rejects this plan of action, there is the possibility that the B rating could be taken from the sponsor. If you are an employer under Tier 2 and Tier 5, or a Sponsor under Tier 4 and want to obtain a sponsor licence, please contact us and we will advise and assist you in obtaining a sponsor licence from the UK Border Agency.

Immigration Audit And Hr Compliance

Under the Points Based System, the UK Border Agency reserves full rights to audit all immigration files prior to issuing a licence to sponsors, and after issuing the licence to conduct compliance checks every 12 months. Therefore, all immigration files must be in excellent condition before the sponsor applies for a sponsor licence. The sponsors must meet 5 important obligations and keep their immigration files in order.

The 5 important obligations are as follows:

  • monitoring immigration status and preventing illegal employment;
  • maintaining migrant contact details;
  • record keeping;
  • migrant tracking and monitoring; and
  • recruitment practices and professional accreditations.

All sponsors that hold a licence must meet certain duties, some of which are general duties while others are specific for Tier 2 or Tier 4. It is mandatory for all sponsors to adhere to these duties.

General duties

Below are some general duties that sponsors must meet:

    • Record keeping dutiesSponsors must keep the following documents for future immigration audit. Failure to provide these documents when the UK Border Agency require them may impact the sponsor”s grade:

each sponsored migrant’s personal, up to date contact details such as their residential address in the UK, and telephone and mobile numbers; and

  • Copy of each sponsored migrant’s passport or his/her visa status document in the UK; or,
  • evidence proving that the migrant has permission to work or study with a copy of their leave to remain status (visa page of their passport) in the UK.


  • Reporting dutiesIt is mandatory for all sponsors to report the UK Border Agency if one of the below occurs:
    • a sponsored migrant does not start his/ her employment or studies/course;
    • a sponsored migrant is absent from work or education for more than 10 working days;
    • a sponsored migrant discontinues his/her studies or terminates his/her employment;
    • the sponsored migrant changes his/her immigration status to another one (such as Tier 1 highly skilled, spouse visa, or Indefinite leave to remain);
    • a significant change in the migrant’s employment status or the location;
    • the migrant is breaching his/her current immigration conditions in the UK;
    • the sponsor has any information that the migrant has engaged in terrorism or other criminal activities.

    The sponsor must report to the UK Border Agency within 10 working days if one of the above happens.

  • Specific duties – Tier 2 (General and Intra company transfers)Sponsors must make sure that when they issue a certificate of sponsorship to a migrant, they have met the following requirements:
    • the migrant intends and is able to do the specific skilled job;
    • the job offered is at least S/NVQ skill level 3;
    • the sponsor has carried out the resident labour market test (RLMT); this is not applicable for Tier 2 (Intra company transfers);
    • the migrant will be paid at or above the rate at which the job has been advertised; and,
    • for Tier 2 (Intra company transfers) it is necessary to prove that the migrant has been working for the overseas linked company for at least the last 6 months.

Certificate Of Sponsorship

Once the UK Border Agency issue a license, the sponsor will be able to issue Certificates of Sponsorship on behalf of migrants. It is necessary for the sponsor to make sure the below before issuing a certificate of sponsorship:

  • the job is at S/NVQ or above skill level or above;
  • the migrant will be paid a salary/allowance at or above the appropriate rate for this vacancy;
  • the resident labour market test has been taken; or
  • the job is on the shortage occupation list; or
  • the migrant has been working for the linked sponsor overseas for the last 6 months (this requirement is only applicable for intra company transfers).

Tier 2 (Intra company transfers) are applicable for multinational companies that want to transfer employees from an overseas office to the UK. The multinational companies will have to prove that there is a direct link by common ownership or control with the overseas entity. After the sponsor issues the Certificate of Sponsorship, the next step is for migrants to apply for entry clearance at the British Diplomatic Post overseas and enter the United Kingdom as a skilled worker up to 14 days before their employment start date, or apply for further leave to remain in the UK subject to their eligibility.

Tier 2 (G/Ict) And Entry Clearance Applications

Once migrants receive a Certificate of Sponsorship reference number from the sponsor, they need to apply either for an entry clearance at a British Diplomatic Post in their country of residence/origin, or apply for further leave to remain in the UK. When they apply for entry clearance, they need to complete an entry clearance form and an Appendix 5 (for further Leave to Remain there is a different form which needs to be completed) and also need to provide supporting documents in line with supporting document regulations.

Civil Penalties And Criminal Offence For Employers

The UK Border Agency has introduced several tough new civil penalties and criminal offences for those who employ illegal migrant workers in the UK. The UK Border Agency takes illegal working very seriously and has started to impose a range of penalties on employers. The UK Border Agency has already visited employers in the UK and has imposed penalties. Employers have full responsibilities to check migrants’ immigration status when they employ them, and then every 12 months under section 15 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006. Failure to carry out these checks will lead to civil or criminal penalties. Below are some penalties that sponsors could face:

  • An “A” grade license holders could be downgraded to a “B” rating or removed from the sponsorship which will unable an employer to sponsor any migrants in the UK;
  • A civil penalty up to £10,000 for employing an illegal migrant worker due to negligent recruitment practices under section 15 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006.
  • Prosecution of sponsors/employers for deliberately employing an illegal migrant worker which could lead to up to two years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine under section 21 of the 2006 Act.
  • Facilitating or trafficking illegal workers into the UK could be punished by up to 14 years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine under section 4 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Act 2004.
  • Imprisonment for up to two years and/or an unlimited fine for employers who have employed migrants that possess identity documents which are false or improperly obtained under section 25 of the Identity Cards Act 2006.
  • As a result of prosecution, company directors/officers could be disbarred or disqualified to set up and manage a new company under section 2 of the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986.

Therefore, it is very important for sponsors to comply with the requirements of their sponsor licence, check migrants’ immigration status when they employ them, and conduct regular immigration checks every 12 months.

How can we help you?

We can advise and assist companies in the following:

  • preparing and obtaining a Sponsor Licence from the UK Border Agency;
  • checking and preparing immigration files and HR compliance for immigration audit for the UK Border Agency’s inspection;
  • drafting and issuing Certificates of Sponsorship for potential employees;
  • obtaining a tier 2 (general or intra company transfer) visa for potential employees either using the UK Border Agency’s one day fast-track service or by post;
  • advising and assisting in obtaining entry clearance from a Diplomatic post overseas for potential employees.

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