Guide on how to apply for a Tier 2 or 5 sponsor licence and how to sponsor a migrant worker.

Tiers 2 and 5 of the points-based system are the primary immigration routes for non-European Economic Area (EEA) migrants who wish to work in the UK. These migrants must be sponsored by an organisation or company that holds a Tier 2 and/or Tier 5 licence. A licence is a permission given to an
organisation to sponsor workers in its business.

Sponsorship is based on 2 principles:

  •  those who benefit most directly from migration; employers, education providers or other bodies who are bringing in migrants, should play their part in ensuring the system is not abused
  • UKVI need to make sure that those applying to come to the UK for work or to study are eligible and that a reputable employer or education provider genuinely wishes to take them on

A migrant must have a sponsor before they can apply to come to, or remain in the UK for work. The same applies where a Croatian national who is already in the UK needs to apply for worker authorisation in the form of a Purple Registration Certificate. More information about ‘Croatian nationals applying
for worker authorisation’ is available on GOV.UK.

Sponsorship plays 2 main roles in a migrant’s application for permission to come to, or remain in the UK to work:

  •  where appropriate, it provides evidence that the migrant will fill a genuine vacancy that cannot be filled with a suitably qualified or skilled settled worker
  •  it involves a pledge from the sponsor that it accepts all of the duties expected when sponsoring the migrant

When a sponsor is granted a Tier 2 or Tier 5 licence, significant trust is placed on them. With this trust comes a responsibility to act in accordance with the Immigration Rules and all parts of the Tiers 2 and 5: guidance for sponsors. UKVI have a duty to ensure that all sponsors discharge these responsibilities,
and will take compliance action when it is considered that a sponsor has failed to do so, or otherwise poses a risk to immigration control.

When considering your licence application, UKVI need to establish 4 things:

  • are you a genuine organisation operating lawfully in the UK? – to prove this, you must provide certain documents – these are listed in Appendix A of the guidance for sponsors
  • are you honest, dependable and reliable? – to judge this, we look at your history and background, the key personnel named on your application and any people involved in your day to day running
  • are you capable of carrying out your sponsor duties and evidencing your compliance in a timeframe and manner set out in the ‘Sponsor duties’ section? – we judge this by looking at your current human resources and recruitment practices to make sure that you will be able to fulfil your
    sponsor duties, we may do this by visiting you before your licence is granted
  • if you are applying under Tier 2 (General), can you offer genuine employment that meets the Tier 2 (General) skill level and appropriate rates of pay? – the skill threshold for Tier 2 (General) employment requires a role to be at or above Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) level 6,
    unless any of the exceptions set out under ‘Skill level for jobs under Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer)’ apply .

UKVI may use the information that you provide to us when you apply for a licence or at any time throughout the period of your licence in accordance with the Home Office Personal Information Charter. In certain circumstances details may be passed to other government departments and agencies, local authorities and fraud prevention agencies such as HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and Credit Industry Fraud Avoidance System (CIFAS)) for immigration purposes, the prevention of fraud and criminality and/or to help them carry out their functions. These bodies may provide the Home Office with information about you and your employees.

Tier 2: skilled workers with a job offer

There are 4 categories under the Tier 2 route. They are:

  •  Tier 2 (General) – is for workers who have an offer of a skilled job from a employer in the UK that cannot be filled by a settled worker and includes workers coming to the UK to fill shortage occupations
  • Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) – is for an existing employee of a multinational employer who needs to be transferred by the overseas employer to a UK branch which is linked by common ownership or control;for training purposes or to fill a specific vacancy that cannot be filled by a
    settled or EEA worker either on a long term basis or for frequent short
    visits, there are 2 sub-categories of this category:

    • Long-term Staff: is for an employee who needs to be transferred to a job which cannot be filled by a new UK recruit; they must have worked for their employer overseas for at least 12 months (unless they will earn at least £73,900 in the UK)
    • Graduate Trainee: is for an employee who transfers into a graduate trainee programme for a specialist role; they must be a recent graduate with at least 3 months’ experience with their employer overseas
    • Note: the Tier 2 (ICT) Skills Transfer sub category was closed on 24 November 2016 and the Tier 2 (ICT) Short-term Staff sub category was closed on 6 April 2017
  •  Tier 2 (Sportsperson): is for elite sportspeople and coaches who are internationally established at the highest level and whose employment will make a significant contribution to the development of their sport at the highest level in the UK, and who will base themselves in the UK
  • Tier 2 (Minister of Religion): is for religious workers who have an offer of a job within a faith community, such as, a min