Do You Need Sponsorship For UK Work Visas?

If you’re travelling to the UK to stay for a long period, typically more than 6 months, you will need to get a visa. You can only get a UK visa if you meet the visa requirements and for some visas, especially work visas, sponsorship is a key requirement. Read on to find out if you need a sponsorship for your UK visa and, if you do, how to go about it. 

Who needs Sponsorship?

Generally, sponsorship is mandatory for UK work visas, most notably the following:

  • Skilled worker
  • Health or care worker
  • Global Business Mobility worker
  • Seasonal worker
  • International Sportsperson
  • International agreement worker
  • Government authorised exchange worker
  • Charity worker
  • Creative worker 
  • Religious worker 

The list above includes both long-term and temporary job positions. If you have a long-term job offer in the UK, your job will likely fall under the Skilled Worker visa. It’s the most popular UK work visa and can’t be obtained without sponsorship. 

Your sponsor is your employer. However, for them to be eligible to sponsor you, they must be approved by the UK Home office and also obtain a sponsor licence. The sponsor licence is the official document that gives a UK employer the right to hire overseas workers. 

It’s not enough that they say they’ll sponsor you, they must make it official by issuing you a certificate of sponsorship. Without a sponsorship licence, they can’t issue sponsorship certificates. If you already have a job offer, you can check the Register of licenced sponsors to verify if your employer is eligible to sponsor you. 

Usually, if your employer is eligible, they should get an A-rating licence. An A-rating licence allows employers to issue multiple certificates of sponsorship for 4 years from the licence issue date. However, they’ll get a provisional rating licence instead if you’re coming to the UK as an Expansion Worker (under the Global Business Mobility route).

How to go about it

Obtaining a sponsor licence is the responsibility of your employer, not you, the employee. However, they need to make sure your job is suitable for sponsorship. In other words, you must have the required skills and qualifications to show you can perform. You’ll also need to provide proof of these qualifications.

Furthermore, most work visas, require that your job position meets a minimum salary requirement. For example, the Skilled Worker visa requires a general minimum salary of £25,600 per year. The amount may be higher for some particular job types. If you meet all these requirements, your employer can easily obtain a sponsor licence.

It takes around 8 weeks to process sponsor licence applications. Just as you pay visa processing fees, your employer will also pay a licence processing fee. The price is £536 for small businesses and charities and £1,476 for medium and large companies. Likewise, they must provide supporting documents. 

On your part, you should anticipate the certificate of sponsorship. Most importantly, you should confirm the details on the certificate. Your employer can issue you the certificate immediately after they get their licence. The certificate will, and must include:

  • Your job title and category 
  • Your sponsor (employer) name and sponsor licence number 
  • Your certificate of sponsorship reference number
  • The certificate’s date assigned and expiry date

Note that the certificate is a digital document, and you won’t be getting a hard copy. When applying for your visa, you’ll only have to provide the reference number.

Your certificate of sponsorship will be valid for 3 months; you can confirm from the date assigned and the expiry date. Therefore, you must apply for your visa as soon as you receive it. 

There are other requirements you must meet, aside from presenting a sponsorship certificate. This will depend on your job type. A general requirement, however, is that you demonstrate proficiency in English. You’re exempt if you’re from the US, Canada, Australia, and some other native-English countries. 

Bottom Line

To conclude, you’ll need sponsorship from your UK employer if you’re applying for a work visa. Your employer must apply and obtain a sponsorship licence and then issue you a certificate of sponsorship. A certificate of sponsorship increases your chances of obtaining your work visa but you must also meet other visa requirements.

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Christophe Rude

Christophe Rude

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