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Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence. Frequently Asked Questions


Under the points-based system, UK businesses looking to hire highly skilled migrant workers from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) are required to obtain a Tier 2 (Sponsorship Licence). A sponsorship licence is also necessary for educational institutions recruiting students from overseas.


Q: How long will our licence be valid for?


A: A sponsor licence is valid for 4 years, after which it will expire and you will need to renew it. However, during this period your sponsorship licence could be revoked if you fail to meet your obligations. You can also surrender your licence if you no longer need it. The 4 years will start from the date your sponsorship licence application is successful and your licence is granted, even if you are not immediately going to sponsor anyone.   


Q: Can the Home office only visit our office when we apply for the licence, or at any time?


A: The Home Office often visit when determining whether or not to issue you with a sponsorship licence. This is because they assess if you meet the suitability criteria. As such, they can make an unannounced visit to assess if you have systems in place to meet your duties. However, they are also able, and do frequently attend the offices of a sponsorship licence holder to ensure that you are continuing to meet your duties. These visits can be either arranged or unannounced.    


Q: Can we just assign a certificate of sponsorship once we found someone we like?


A: Unfortunately, as a sponsorship licence is a big undertaking as the Home Office are placing trust in your organisation, it is expected and assumed that when you assign a certificate of sponsorship to a prospective Tier 2 (General) migrant, you are confirming that you have met your obligations. These include:

  • You have carried out a genuine residence labour market test, if required to have done so
  • If it is based on a shortage occupation job, the job was listed in Appendix k on the date you assigned the certificate of sponsorship
  • You will pay the prospective Tier 2 migrant in line with your advertisement, which meets the appropriate rate for the job
  • The job is a genuine vacancy.


Q: Can we allocate a lawyer to be our authorising officer?


A: As you will know, a sponsor licence holder must have sufficient systems in place and must maintain records. The Home Office have a centralised system known as the sponsorship management system which you must log on and update regularly. Not everyone should have access to the sponsorship management system. There are three key roles which may be filled by one person or different persons. These are the authorising officer, the key contact and the level 1 user. A level 2 user ca also be appointed. Any of these roles, other than the authorising officer role, can be allocated to a UK lawyer who is permitted and competent to give immigration advice. 


Q: Our prospective Tier 2 migrant wants to bring his family, do we pay the skills charge for them too?


A: No. You do not need to pay the immigration skills charge for the prospective Tier 2 migrant’s family members who themselves are not migrant workers. 


Q: Our business wants to issue a certificate of sponsorship to an applicant who is the family member of one of our current employees, can we do this?


A: To make sure you are complying with the law you must disclose (by putting the information on the notes filed on the certificate of sponsorship) if you assign a certificate of sponsorship to a family member of anyone in the company if it is classed as a small or medium sized business, or if you are aware that you are assigning a certificate of sponsorship to a family member of anyone within a sponsor organisation classed as a large business. You should always be honest with this to avoid a deception allegation.  


Astons is a leading global immigration advisory firm with offices in London, Beijing, Moscow, Dubai and Limassol (Republic of Cyprus) and offers residency & citizenship investment solutions worldwide including UKTurkeyVanuatuEU & the Caribbean.


For further information or to discuss your personal circumstances in a private consultation, please contact Astons at or call +44 207 292 2977