Lupins Immigration

Getting more skilled people in the UK

Sponsor Licence Visa applications for Employers Bringing skilled staff to the UK

If you are looking to hire skilled individuals from outside the EEA who do not already have the right to work in the UK, you will need to obtain a Tier 2 or Tier 5 Sponsor Licence.

UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) operate a Points Based System (PBS) for evaluating all workers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA). The Points Based scheme is designed to limit the number of migrant workers coming into the UK, implementing a Points system which favours those with high qualifications, higher earnings and those working in what are known as shortage occupations. The restrictions on who can work in the UK are arguably tighter and more complex than ever.  The system, also places a great deal of responsibility and duties on employers.

“At LUPINS, our experts strive to make the process as easy as possible by offering you a bespoke service that will ensure you can carry out and comply with your responsibilities as a sponsor licence holder.”

Lawrence Lupin
Founding Director

Types of licence

Tier 2

Tier 2 is for skilled workers you wish to employ either long term or permanently.  There are several categories within Tier 2.

  • General – employees in this role must meet specific job suitability requirements relating to their pay and skill levels.
  • Intra-company Transfer – for multinational companies which need to transfer employees to the UK.
  • Minister of Religion – for people coming to work for a religious organization for up to 3 years.
  • Sportsperson – for elite sportspeople and coaches who will be based in the UK.

Tier 5

Tier 5 is for skilled workers you wish to employ on a temporary basis.  There are several categories within Tier 5:

  • 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 undertaking preaching, pastoral and non-pastoral work (up to 2 years).
  • Government Authorised Exchange – work experience (up to 1 year) research projects or training (up to 2 years).
  • International Agreement – where a worker is coming to work in a job which is covered by International Law, for example employees of overseas government.

Some say we’re experts, we say we’re established Others say we’re helpful, we just say we’re LUPINS

Sponsor Management System (SMS)

Once you have your sponsor licence, the process of taking on overseas workers is managed through what is known as the Sponsor Management System.  This is an online system.

You will need to appoint people within your business to manage and operate the Sponsor Management System.

  • authorising officer – a senior and competent person responsible for the actions of your staff and representatives using the SMS
  • key contact – your main point of contact with UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI)
  • level 1 user – responsible for the day to day management of your licence through operation of the SMS.
  • an optional level 2 user once you have your licence

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

You can allocate any of the roles, apart from the authorizing officer role to your UK based legal representative.

Applying for your Licence

The application is made online.  You must also provide specified documents in support of the application to prove that you are a genuine business. If the documents are not correct, the application will be refused.  We will advise you in detail on the supporting documents required ensuring as far as possible a smooth application process.

You will need to pay a fee which depends on the size of your business and type of licence you are applying for.

If your annual turnover is £10 million or less, or you have 50 employees or fewer, you will be classed as a small business and will pay the lower fee.  This fee will also apply to a Charity.


Those appointed to these roles will be checked to make sure they are suitable.  There are specific suitability requirements including not having unspent criminal convictions, having been fined by UKVI in the past 12 months, failing to pay VAT or other Excise duty.

We at Lupins will advise on whether you and your staff will pass the suitability test.  We can also be appointed as your Level 1 user when assisting you with your operation of the SMS.


Many applications are refused because the documentation submitted is not in the correct format, in accordance with the UK Visas and Immigration guidance notes.  These set out in detail the requirements, which are complex, change at short notice and are followed by the UKBA to the letter.

At Lupins we will make sure that you have all the required documents in support of your application

Suitability – Pay & Skill Levels

UKVI have set specific pay and  skill levels for the relevant occupations.  These are set out in the immigration rules.

Lupins will advise you on whether your proposed overseas employees and the vacancies you are offering fulfil these suitability requirements.

Creative Jobs:

There are separate rates of pay and skill levels for:

  • ballet dancers and other dancers
  • film and TV performers
  • theatre and opera performers
  • film and TV workers

Sponsorship certificates and fees

You need a Certificate of Sponsorship for each overseas worker you employ.  This is a virtual/electronic certificate which has it own number which the worker can use when applying for his or her visa.  Certificates must be used within 3 months from the date they are issued.

Restricted & unrestricted certificates:

There are a limited number of what are known as restricted certificates available for workers entering under Tier 2 (General) being paid less than £159,600 a year.  This also applies to family members of Tier 4 migrants who are switching to a Tier 2 visa.

You will need to apply for these restricted certificates through the SMS.  For all other certificates, ie unrestricted certificates you will be asked to estimate how many Tier 2 and Tier 5 certificates you will need when applying for your licence.

There is a fee payable for each certificate.

You may also have to pay an immigration skills charge.  This currently applies to workers coming to the UK for 6 months or more under either Tier 2 (General) or Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer).

Medium or large sponsors pay a higher fee than small or charitable sponsors

Some call us persuasive, we call ourselves commanding. Others call us dependable, we call ourselves LUPINS.

The Resident Labour Market test – advertising the jobs

If the job you are offering is not on the current shortage occupation list you will need to demonstrate that no other suitable settled worker in the UK can do the job.  This is known as carrying out the resident labour market test.

You will not need to advertise the jobs if you are paying a salary of £159,600 or more.

You will need to advertise the job in the following categories:

  • Tier 2 (General)
  • Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) or Tier 5 (Religious Workers)

unless it is a non essential position or involves living within a religious order.

  • Tier 5 (Creative and Sporting) in the creative and entertainment sector, unless you can explain why the job can’t be done by a settled worker.

If the advertising process is not followed correctly and/or job descriptions are not at the required skill levels, your application for the sponsor licence is likely to be refused.

We at Lupins can assist you with the advertising, advising you on the appropriate publiations in which to place your advert, length of time the advert must run (usually 28 days).  We can also advise you on the job descriptions you may need and the recruitment process, including the short listing of candidates.

Your responsibilities as a Sponsor:

LUPINS support you all the way:

The application is made under the Points Based System. We will assess if you qualify for necessary points.

  • We will ensure that you have the documentation that proves you qualify for these points.
  • We will advise and assist you in completing the application forms.
  • We will hold your hands throughout the application process, liaising with the British Consulate and their appointed overseas agents.
  • We will make detailed representations in support of the application setting out clearly why the application should succeed, highlighting the documentation we are submitting and how this proves you have sufficient points.

Put simply, our immigration solicitors will hold your hands throughout the process,
liaising with all relevant government bodies, including UK Visas and Immigration,
British Consulate, overseas agents and where necessary the courts.