Navigating the complexities of immigration law is crucial for UK employers looking to hire non-UK residents. One critical aspect of this process is obtaining a sponsor licence. This licence allows employers to legally hire skilled workers from abroad. However, understanding the fees associated with obtaining and maintaining a sponsor licence is essential for budget planning and compliance. This article provides a comprehensive guide to sponsor licence fees, helping employers make informed decisions.

What is a Sponsor Licence?

A sponsor licence is a permission granted by the UK Home Office that allows employers to recruit workers from outside the UK, including the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. This licence is mandatory for employers wishing to sponsor skilled workers under various visa categories, including the Skilled Worker visa, Intra-company Transfer visa, and others.

Types of Sponsor Licences

There are two main types of sponsor licences:

  1. Worker Licence: This is for employers who want to sponsor long-term or permanent employment. Categories under this licence include the Skilled Worker, Intra-company Transfer, Minister of Religion, and Sportsperson visas.
  2. Temporary Worker Licence: This is for employers looking to sponsor short-term workers in specific categories, such as Charity Worker, Creative and Sporting, Government Authorised Exchange, International Agreement, Religious Worker, and Seasonal Worker visas.

Sponsor Licence Fees

The fees for obtaining a sponsor licence vary based on the size of the organization and the type of licence being applied for. The UK government classifies businesses into two categories: small sponsors and large sponsors.

  1. Small Sponsors: To qualify as a small sponsor, the organization must meet at least two of the following criteria:
    • Annual turnover of £10.2 million or less
    • Total assets worth £5.1 million or less
    • 50 employees or fewer
  2. Large Sponsors: Any organization that does not meet the criteria for a small sponsor is considered a large sponsor.

Fee Structure

  • Worker Licence:
    • Small Sponsors: £536
    • Large Sponsors: £1,476
  • Temporary Worker Licence:
    • Small Sponsors: £536
    • Large Sponsors: £536

These fees are for a licence that is valid for four years. If an organization wishes to renew its sponsor licence, it must pay the applicable fee again at the time of renewal.

Additional Costs

Apart from the initial licence fee, employers should be aware of other potential costs associated with sponsorship:

  • Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) Fees: For each worker the organization sponsors, it must issue a Certificate of Sponsorship, which costs £199 per certificate for the Worker route and is free for certain Temporary Worker routes.
  • Immigration Skills Charge (ISC): This fee applies to employers sponsoring workers on the Skilled Worker and Intra-company Transfer routes. The charge is £364 per year for small sponsors and £1,000 per year for large sponsors. For example, if sponsoring a worker for five years, a small sponsor would pay £1,820, while a large sponsor would pay £5,000.
  • Legal and Administrative Costs: Organizations may incur additional expenses for legal advice, administrative processing, and compliance activities related to maintaining their sponsor status.

Budgeting for Sponsor Licence Fees

When planning to sponsor workers from abroad, it is crucial for employers to budget for both the initial and ongoing costs associated with the sponsor licence. This includes setting aside funds for licence renewal, issuing CoS, and paying the ISC. Additionally, employers should consider the potential need for legal support to ensure compliance with Home Office regulations.


Understanding the fees associated with obtaining and maintaining a sponsor licence is essential for any UK employer looking to hire non-UK residents. By familiarizing themselves with the different types of licences, fee structures, and additional costs, employers can better prepare for the financial commitments involved. Proper planning and budgeting will not only ensure compliance with immigration laws but also help in effectively managing the workforce needs of the organization.