Tier 2 and Tier 5 Licence

Tier 2 and Tier 5 Licence

If you want to sponsor someone from outside the UK, you may need a sponsor license.

Two Main type of licences:

The licence you need will depend on whether the workers you want to fill your jobs are:

  • Tier 2 - skilled workers with long-term job offers OR
  • Tier 5 - skilled temporary workers

For either of these tiers or both, you can apply for a license.

Tier 2:

Tier 2 is for skilled workers. Workers whom you want to either employ long-term or permanently. It is split into 4 different categories:

  • General - the role must meet the job suitability requirements
  • Intra-Comp any Transfer - for multinational companies which need to transfer employees to the UK
  • Minister of Religion - for people coming to work for a religious organisation (for up to 3 years)
  • Sportsperson - for elite sports people and coaches who will be based in the UK

Tier 5:

Tier 5 is for skilled workers that you want to employ on a temporary basis. It’s split into 5 different categories:

  • Creative and Sporting - to work as a sportsperson (up to 1 year), entertainer or artist (up to 2 years).
  • Charity Worker - for unpaid workers (up to 1 year).
  • Religious Worker - for those preaching, pastoral and non-pastoral work (2 years).
  • Government Authorised Exchange - work experience (1 year), involving research projects/training, for example practical medical or scientific training (2 years) to enable a short-term exchange of knowledge
  • International Agreement - where the worker is coming to do a job which is covered by international law.

Sponsorship management roles:

When you apply for a licence, you need to appoint people within your business to manage the process of the sponsorship.

The main tool they’ll use to do this is the sponsorship management system (SMS).

The roles are:

  • The authorising officer – this person would be a senior and competent person who is responsible for the actions of staff and representatives, who use the SMS.
  • The key contact – this would be your main point of contact with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).
  • The level 1 user – this person will responsible for all day-to-day management, of your licence using the SMS system.

These roles can be taken on by the same person or different people.

You are able to appoint an optional level 2 user, once you have your license. This would be an SMS user with more restricted access than a level 1 user, for example, they cannot withdraw a certificate of sponsorship.

Sponsorship certificates:

If you employ a foreign worker, you must assign a certificate of sponsorship to the each of them. Each certificate will contain its own number, which the worker can use to apply for a visa.

Job suitability:

If the job the worker is going to do has a suitable rate of pay and skill level, you can sponsor a worker

The job will usually need to be Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) level 6 or above if your worker has a Tier 2 (General) or Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) visa.

Creative jobs:

There are separate rates of pay and skill levels for:

  • Dancers 
  • Film and TV performers
  • Theatre and opera performers
  • Film and TV workers

Advertising the job

If the job that you are offering is not on the shortage occupation list, you may need to advertise it. This is called carrying out the ‘resident labour market test’.

Any job advertised, must be offered to a worker in the following categories:

  • Tier 2 (General).
  • Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) or Tier 5 (Religious Workers)
  • Tier 5 (Creative and Sporting) in the creative and entertainment sector, unless you are able to explain why the job cannot be done by a settled worker.

When advertising, you must place at least 2 adverts. ‘How to carry out the resident labour market test’ section of the guidance for sponsors, will show you the other rules that need to be followed.

The adverts must be a genuine vacancy. You must also make sure that there are no suitable workers already living permanently in the UK.

How long to advertise the job for:

For a minimum 28 days, you must advertise your job vacancy. This can be continuous or in 2 separate stages.

Sponsoring under-18s:

If you want to sponsor a foreign worker, you cannot sponsor them under the age of 18 for:

  • a Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa
  • a Tier 5 (Temporary Worker - International Agreement) visa - if they’ll be working as a private servant in a diplomatic household or in the household of an employee of an international organisation

If a child is under the age of 16, you cannot sponsor them for a Tier 2 visa.

You must:

  • Ensure that foreign workers must have the necessary skills, qualifications or professional accreditations to do their jobs. They must keep all the relevant copies of documents showing this.
  • When the job is suitable for sponsorship, you need to assign the certificates of sponsorship to the workers.
  • If the workers are not complying with the conditions of their visas, you must immediately tell the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).
  • Your licence may be downgraded, suspended or withdrawn if you do not meet the criteria.

Read the full guidance on sponsor requirements and duties and check workers have the right to work in the UK.

Monitoring employees:

HR systems must be put into place that let you:

  • Monitor your employees’ immigration status
  • Keep copies of documents for each employee, including passport and right to work information
  • track and record employees’ attendance
  • Keep employee contact details up to date
  • Report to UKVI if there are any problem, for example if your employee stops coming to work.

Changes to your business:

If there are any significant changes in your own circumstances, within the period of 20 working days, you must report them, for example if you:

  • stop trading or become insolvent
  • substantially change the nature of your business
  • are involved in a merger or take-over

You must also tell UKVI if you’re changing your details.


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