Demystifying UK visa sponsorship for employers

Found the perfect person for the job but not sure they’ve got the right to work in the UK? If you’re anything short of certain about what post-Brexit visa rules mean when hiring non-British nationals, our quick guide below is just for you.  


Who needs a sponsorship licence to work in the UK?

To employ workers from outside the UK – including citizens of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland who arrived in the UK after 31 December 2020 – you’ll need a sponsorship licence. This licence is not required for Irish citizens, people with settled or pre-settled status as part of the EU Settlement Scheme, or people with indefinite leave to remain in the UK.


The application process

  1. Check that your business is eligible.
  2. Verify that your job is eligible. This is determined by a number of criteria including average pay for the role and key skills required.
  3. Select the type of licence you need. Is it for skilled, long-term employment, or temporary employment? You can also sponsor a scale-up worker. has all the details.
  4. Appoint someone in your company to manage the sponsorship process. This person will be subject to suitability checks, as detailed here.
  5. Apply online and pay the fee at


What happens next?

Most applications are dealt with in under eight weeks. If you need to fast-track your application, you can pay an additional £500 to secure a decision within 10 working days. This service is offered on a first-come, first-served basis for a limited number of applications only.


If your application is successful, you’ll be awarded a licence rating and be able to issue certificates of sponsorship for your eligible jobs. Your sponsorship licence – valid for four years – will be revoked if you fall short of your responsibilities as a sponsor.


Should your sponsorship application be unsuccessful, all is not lost. Some candidates from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein can secure the right to work for you via the EU Settlement Scheme. For details, please see our article – How to secure the right to work in the UK.


We hope you found our above guide useful. For advice on a more recruitment-based flavour, please get in touch. There are many cost, time and hiring outcome benefits to partner with us. We have a vast network of constantly-refreshed, active job seekers on our books, many of whom you wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach. Moreover, thanks to bulk discounts on job adverts, the benefits of which we are happy to share with you, promoting your vacancies through us is extremely cost-effective. If no candidate is hired, no fees will be charged, so it’s a zero-risk proposition.


To find out more about the benefits of working with ABL Recruitment – the UK’s leading multilingual recruitment agency – please get in touch at or on 020 7092 3911 today!