Can an employer apply for a sponsor licence before it has identified specific candidates to be sponsored?

Yes, to avoid delays to the recruitment process, an employer may decide to apply for a sponsor licence before it has identified specific candidates to sponsor. In particular, employers that have relied on the ability to recruit EEA nationals may decide to apply for a licence under the new immigration system, which applies to all non-UK nationals including those from inside the European Economic Area (EEA) (excluding Irish nationals) from 1 January 2021. It could take several weeks or months to prepare a sponsor licence application and for that application to be processed.

To apply for a licence, the organisation must be able to demonstrate that it is capable of sponsoring workers who meet the minimum salary and skill requirements under the points-based system. It does not have to have identified a specific individual to be recruited and does not have to identify specific vacancies that will require sponsored employees.