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Sponsor Licence Application Workers from ZA to UK

Are you a UK employer looking to hire foreign workers from South Africa? You’ll need to get a sponsor licence.

If you want to know more about the sponsor licence, call +44 (0)333 305 9375 or message us online. We are available to answer your questions, provide expert advice and guidance on applying for sponsorship, and bring the best talents abroad to your doorsteps.

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    It is not uncommon to find exceptional talents abroad instead of in the country where your business is situated. So, if you find talented South Africans, you’ll need to sponsor them before they can enter the UK and work for you.

    You’ll first need a sponsorship licence to sponsor a worker not from the UK. A sponsorship licence is an authorisation issued to UK-based employers by the Home Office that enables them to get employees overseas.

    The sponsor licence is issued to organisations and not individuals. This means that if you are not a company with proper registration in the UK, you cannot apply for a sponsor licence.

    You can only get a sponsor licence from the Home Office if you want to fill a job role in the Standardised Occupation Codes. This also means you’ll have to pay the incoming employee the minimum wage stipulated for that position.

    Upon getting the sponsor licence, you can now hire employees from South Africa by issuing them certificates of sponsorship (CoS). The employee, in turn, would need to use the CoS to apply for a work visa within 3 months.

    There are two types of sponsor licences, the one you’ll apply for depends on your arrangement with your sponsored worker.

    You can apply for a Temporary Worker Licence, which permits you to temporarily get workers from South Africa. For example, as a hospitality business, you may need more workforce during Christmas and New Year, so you need to sponsor workers temporarily.

    You can get a Temporary Worker licence if the overseas workers are volunteers.

    The other type of sponsor licence is the Worker Licence. You should apply for this licence if your business is hiring sponsored workers permanently.

    Note that your business can apply for a Temporary Worker licence. This gives you more flexibility.

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    Benefits of Having a Sponsor Licence for ZA Companies


    The importance of having a sponsor licence as a business in the UK cannot be overemphasised. It gives you the advantage of accessing a wide range of talent pools that may not be available in the UK when you want them.

    This need to have a sponsor licence as a business in the UK has been amplified since Brexit became official in 2021. There have been staff shortages due to many EU nationals and family members needing to leave the UK if they don’t have settled or pre-settled status.

    To fill these gaps created by Brexit, UK employers must sponsor any employee not from the UK.

    Below are some reasons why getting a sponsor licence is necessary for your business:

    Workforce Stability

    One of the benefits of obtaining a sponsor licence is that it helps stabilise your workforce and fosters loyalty. When you sponsor an employee to the UK, they are tied to your business for 3 to 5 years. This means your employee will stay with you long-term. You can create long-term business plans involving the employee.

    Accessing Talents and Skills

    With a sponsorship licence, you can get talent from South Africa and anywhere globally. This ensures that even if other businesses struggle to find talent due to staff shortages, you will have specialised workers who will keep your business going.

    Competition in the Marketplace

    As a business, you need to stay ahead of the competition, and one way to effectively navigate competition in the market is by hiring competent and skilled employees. You can take a lion’s share of the market with the right talent pool working for you. Being able to sponsor the talents you need from any part of the world is a plus.

    Eligibility Requirements for Getting a Sponsor Licence

    Before you apply for a sponsor licence, you have to be eligible.

    Here are the eligibility requirements:

    Business Must be in the UK

    The foremost requirement to meet before you apply for a sponsor licence is that your business must have a location in the UK. Your business must also have UK customers. To prove this, you must provide documents showing you are duly registered in the UK and have the right to operate.

    Employment Suitability

    You have to prove to the Home Office that you have a genuine job offer for the employee from South Africa. Your business has to provide the exact details of your job offer. This is to prevent sham job roles.

    The role your business wants to fill must be in the Standardised Occupation Codes. You must also be willing to pay the employer the minimum wage stipulated by the Code.

    Finally, you must prove that your prospective employee has the training and experience needed for that role.

    Your Sponsor Licence Was Not Revoked Less than 1 Year Ago

    If you lost your sponsor licence less than a year ago, you are not eligible to apply for a sponsor licence.

    Clean Criminal Record

    You or your business must not have been found guilty of any criminal offence like tax evasion, money laundering or immigration rule breach.

    Be Able to Monitor Sponsored Employees from South Africa

    Before applying for a sponsor licence in the UK, you have to ensure you have set up an arm in your business to monitor your sponsored employees. The HR arm of your business is the most suitable for this.

    Your HR personnel should be tasked with checking the immigration status of the employees, tracking their attendance and keeping tabs on their information. If the employee absconds from duty, it is the job of the HR arm to report such to the Home Office.

    Be Able to Manage Sponsored Workers

    Another arm of your business should be responsible for managing sponsorship visa UK. This arm of your business must have at least 3 roles. One or different people can perform these roles. If different people perform the roles, they must be people already working in your business.

    Below are the roles:

    • The authorising officer will be in charge of managing all the staff that has access to the Sponsorship Management System (SMS).
    • Key contact officer who will liaise with the Home Office on your behalf.
    • Level 1 user who uses the sponsorship management system daily.

    Our immigration experts can help you obtain a sponsor licence application. Get in touch with us today! Contact Us

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      Documents You Need to Make the Sponsor Licence Application

      Below are the documents needed to make the sponsor licence application:

      • Bank statement showing your yearly business turnover.
      • Insurance certificate showing that your business is insured.
      • Document proving that you pay your taxes.
      • Proof that your business premises belong to you or evidence of your business paying rent.
      • Audit account of your business in the immediate past fiscal year.
      • HMRC certificate of registration.

      Note that if you want to apply for a sponsor licence by mail, your documents must be in PDF, PNG or JPG/JPEG. The Home Office will reject any document not in the listed formats.

      You must also name your supporting documents correctly so you don’t confuse the officer at the Home Office. Ensure that the name is precise. It should not be more than 35 characters. Your documents must also be legible and easy to read.

      How to Get a Sponsor Licence

      Below are the steps you must take to get a sponsor licence in the UK:

      Confirm Your Eligibility

      Before you set out to apply for the sponsor licence, you have to confirm if your business meets the requirements for sponsorship. You can use the eligibility requirement section to know. You can still contact us at IAS for guidance if you have doubts. Call us at +44 (0)333 305 9375 or message us online.

      Ensure Your Company is Registered

      Applying for a sponsor licence means you will come under the eagle eyes of the Home Office. You have to come correct and make sure you are not defaulting in any angle. Your business must be registered, have insurance, pay taxes and undergo financial auditing.

      Choose Key Personnel

      The next step is choosing the key personnel to manage the SMS platform and oversee the sponsored employee. You are required to have:

      • An authorising officer.
      • A key contact officer.
      • A level 1 officer.

      Speak to our legal team today. They can help with any matter. Contact us

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        How to Register as a Licensed UK Visa Sponsor

        Registering to be a licenced UK visa sponsor is done online via the Sponsorship Management System. When you are on this platform, ensure you periodically save your progress. This is especially important if you cannot finish the application in one sitting.

        If you log out without saving your progress, you’ll have to start over again.

        Below is some of the information you must provide the Home Office when applying to be a licenced UK visa sponsor:

        • The address and contact details of your business.
        • The information about the hierarchy of the business.
        • The type of sponsor licence you want to get.
        • The contact details of your key contact person.
        • The list of every document you will submit.

        Note that you must have paid the sponsorship fee before you submit your application.

        In the SMS platform, there is a submission sheet attached to the online form. You must complete this form and send it to the Home Office by mail with your supporting document. The email address to which you’ll send these documents is written on the submission sheet.

        Note that your authorising officer will submit the application to the Home Office.

        The Home Office also made a provision for those who may want to use offline processes. You can post your documents and application form to the Home Office.

        When applying for a sponsor licence online, you’ll also need to show the following:

        • The reason why you want a sponsor licence.
        • The industry your business is under.
        • The organogram of your business showing the owner, board members, managers and directors.
        • The vacancy or vacancies that you want to sponsor.
        • The operating time and date of your business.
        • The position of the prospective employee on the organogram
        • The salary is set aside for the prospective employee.
        • The skill education experience that the role requires.

        The fees for a sponsor licence depend on your business size and the type you want.

        Charitable or Small Business

        • £536 for Temporary Worker and Worker Licence.
        • Free if you want a Worker licence when you already have a Temporary Worker licence.
        • Free if you are looking to get a Temporary Worker Licence when you already have a Worker Licence.

        Medium or Large Business

        • £536 for a Temporary Worker licence.
        • £1,476 for a Worker licence.
        • £1,476 for a Temporary Worker and Worker licence.
        • £940 to get a Worker licence in addition to a Temporary Worker licence.
        • Free if you want to add a Temporary Worker licence to a Worker licence.

        How do you know if your business is small, medium or big?

        Your business is small if any 2 of the following criteria apply to your business:

        • Your business does not have more than 50 employees.
        • Your total business assets are worth £5.1 million or less.
        • Your annual business turnover has never superseded £10.2 million.

        Your business is considered a charitable business if any of the following 2 criteria apply:

        • Your business is registered as a charitable business in Wales, England, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
        • Your business was set up by an ecclesiastical organisation.

        If your business does not fall into any of these categories, it is medium or big.

        Note that you must wait at least 8 weeks for the Home Office to respond to your application. If you want to get a faster decision, you can pay an extra £500 to expedite the process.

        If you get a favourable response from the Home Office, you will get a valid licence for 4 years.

        After the 4 years pass, you will have to renew if you want to keep being a sponsor.

        The Home Office assigns you an “A” licence rating upon approval. With this rating, you can issue certificates of sponsorship to foreign workers.

        If the Home Office finds that you are not abiding by the rules of your sponsor licence, your “A” rating will be downgraded to a “B”. Employers with a “B” rating cannot sponsor employees from abroad.

        You also need to know that if the Home Office downgrades your rating, you cannot appeal. Your only option is to wait 1 year before you can reapply to get your licence back.

        Sponsor Licence Validity and Renewals

        As of April 2024, businesses are not required by the Home Office to renew their sponsor licences in order to keep them valid. They must, however, continue to ensure that their business practices are keeping within the Home Office’s guidelines regarding best practices for hiring foreign workers.

        Due to this rule change, businesses now no longer need to apply to renew their licences every four years, nor do they have to pay the renewal fee of £536.

        Note that certain businesses whose licences are set to expire before 6 April 2024 must still apply to extend their licence one last time. They will then no longer have to apply for extensions after the rule change in April.

        If you have any questions about sponsor licence application, our team is happy to assist. Contact us

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          We Can Guide You Through Obtaining a Sponsorship Licence

          At IAS, we have a team of experts in UK employment and immigration laws. We are ever-ready to help you with the sponsorship licence. If you choose to go for our services, we can assess your eligibility and make the application for you. With our team handling your application, you will get your overseas talent hassle-free.

          One thing that discourages employers from seeking talents abroad is the paperwork involved. But we can make this process easy and seamless for you. We have handled this process for many employers in the UK, and we can do the same for you,

          Our services do not just end with you as the employer. Should you get your sponsor licence, we can also help your employer apply for a work visa and assist them till they arrive in the UK.

          Lastly, if you need guidance on how to comply with the rules of the Home Office concerning the sponsor licence, we can organise training for you in that regard. We can also train your key personnel to use and manage the sponsorship management platform.

          For more information about other services we offer, including details about other UK visas, call us at +44 (0)333 305 9375 or message us online.

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                    Frequently Asked Questions

                    You can work in the UK without sponsorship if you are a UK citizen or permanent resident, a student or post-study visa holder, or a dependent of someone who holds a valid UK visa. If you are on a student visa, you can only work for 20 hours when your school is in session and full-time during breaks.

                    Note that your employment on a study or post-study visa is not permanent. If none of the conditions apply to you, you must get a visa sponsorship to work in the UK.

                    Not all UK companies are willing to sponsor a visa. Some may be unwilling due to the paperwork involved and the sponsorship cost. Others may be avoiding the scrutiny of the Home Office.

                    If a company already has a sponsor licence, they can issue you a certificate of sponsorship after you scale through their employment process. With the CoS, you can apply for a work visa and get a decision after 3 weeks. If the company does not have a sponsor licence, it will take them at least 8 weeks to get approval from the Home Office before issuing you CoS.