The Tier 2 sponsor list, also known as the Register of Licensed Sponsors, details all UK employers that hold a valid sponsorship licence permitting them to employ skilled non-UK resident workers.
If you are a national of an EU country or a country outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and you are looking to come to the UK to work, you will in most cases first need to apply for a visa.
The most common UK work visa is the Skilled Worker visa, which replaced the Tier 2 visa in December 2020.
To be eligible for the skilled worker visa, you will need to meet a number of requirements, which includes having a genuine job offer from an employer with a valid sponsorship licence. For applicants looking for a sponsor and a job, the Tier 2 sponsor list is an incredibly useful resource.
What is the Tier 2 sponsor list?
The Tier 2 sponsor list is a published record of organisations licensed to sponsor migrant workers under the points-based system. It is officially entitled the ‘Home Office Register of Sponsors Licensed Under the Points-Based System’.
It provides each organisation’s name in alphabetical order.
The list is updated on a regular basis.
What are the different types of sponsor licence?
The sponsor list also includes information about the type of licence the organisation holds – Worker or Temporary Worker – and the visa route(s) they are allowed to hire under.
The different categories of licence correspond to the type of worker the employer is allowed to hire. These include:
- Worker licence (formerly Tier 2) – for skilled workers and intra-company transfers
- Temporary worker licence (formerly Tier 5) for visas such as creative & sporting, voluntary workers.
The majority of sponsors on the register are licensed under the skilled worker category (which used to be the Tier 2 (General) category).
A sponsor may be licensed under more than one category of worker, and may have different licence ratings for each.
What are the sponsor ratings?
Each organisation on the sponsor list is assigned a sponsorship rating. A sponsor licence can be rated either ‘A’ or ‘B’. The Home Office will only grant a licence to those able to achieve an A-rating, ie; the employer has in place effective human resource systems to be able to meet their sponsor duties.
Once the sponsor licence has been granted, if the Home Office finds evidence that an organisation is unable or unwilling to continue to meet its sponsor duties, or there is evidence of immigration non-compliance, this may result in the rating being downgraded to a ‘B’ rating, or the sponsor licence being suspended or in the most severe instances, revoked.
In the event that your sponsor loses their licence, your certificate of sponsorship will be cancelled and you may have to leave the UK unless you can find a new sponsor and a new role.
How to make best use of the sponsor list
The Tier 2 sponsor list can help you to search for a suitable sponsoring employer based on the following information:
- name of the organisation (in alphabetical order)
- town/city or county
- tier and rating
- sub-tier, eg, skilled worker
When seeking to identify sponsoring employers, you should create a list of organisations from the sponsor list that is related to your industry. You can then search each organisation using online job search sites to identify those currently advertising vacancies.
You will need to ensure that any advertised job meets the relevant skill and salary levels. For example, to be granted a skilled worker visa, the job will usually need to be a skill level of Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) level 3 or above.
The minimum salary for skilled workers depends on a number of different factors such as whether the worker is a ‘new entrant’, the job role and the qualifications the worker holds.
In most cases, the minimum salary requirement for skilled visa workers is at least £26,200 or the going rate for their role, unless the worker can benefit from the tradeable points. The absolute minimum in limited circumstances is £20,480 per annum.
Other requirements for a skilled worker visa
In addition to a job offer from a licensed sponsor, to be eligible for a skilled worker visa you will need to show you have attainted the required 70 points:
- Assigned a valid certificate of sponsorship for that job assigned by your sponsor.
- Proof of your knowledge of English.
- Evidence of personal savings to support yourself on arrival in the UK, if applicable.
You can prove your knowledge of English by either passing an approved English language test, or by having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised as being equivalent to at least a UK bachelor’s degree. You do not need to prove your knowledge of English if you are a national of one of various excepted countries, eg, the USA, Canada and New Zealand.
To prove the maintenance criteria, you will need to provide a bank or building society statement or letter that shows you have enough personal savings, ie; you must have at least £1,270 available for at least 28 consecutive days ending not more than 31 days before the date of your visa application.
Alternatively, you will not need to meet this requirement if your sponsor is A-rated and can guarantee they will meet your maintenance costs up to the end of the first month, this should be shown on your certificate of sponsorship.
If you have been in the UK for 12 months or more at the date of application, you will not need to show funds.
When applying, you will also need to provide a current passport or travel document to prove you can travel, together with expired passports or travel documents if you need them to show your travel history. If you are going to be working in the education, health and social care sectors in the UK you will need a criminal record certificate.
Should I seek legal advice?
To undertake skilled work in the UK you will need the offer of an appropriate job, together with a certificate of sponsorship assigned from an organisation on the register of licensed sponsors list. You will then need to apply for your visa to enable you to legally undertake work in the UK.
The Immigration Rules can be complex and are subject to constant change. An experienced immigration specialist can help you with all aspects of your visa application.
In the event that you have the offer of a job from an organisation that is not currently listed on the sponsor list, your legal adviser can also guide you through the steps your employer will need to take to obtain a sponsor licence.
The Register of Licensed Sponsors can be viewed here.
The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.