When does an employer need a sponsor licence?

An employer needs a sponsor licence if it intends to employ a foreign national who requires a UK visa, under certain immigration routes.

From 1 January 2021, a new immigration system applies equally to European Economic Area (EEA) nationals (except Irish nationals) and other non-UK nationals. Employers that do not currently have a sponsor licence must apply for one if they wish to recruit non-UK nationals under the skilled worker, intra-company transfer or temporary worker routes of the immigration system.

An employer does not need a sponsor licence to employ an EEA national who has settled or pre-settled status, or to employ an Irish national.

When an employer has a sponsor licence it can issue certificates of sponsorship to individual foreign nationals. The individual then uses the certificate to apply for a visa. Employers can sponsor an employee only if the role meets the minimum requirements relating to skills and salary.