UK: Sponsorship Under The New Immigration Rules

Last Updated: 23 September 2008
Article by Kathryn Dooks

The work permit system (along with 82 other routes to work or study in the UK) will be replaced from autumn 2008 with a new 5 tier points based immigration system.

Tier 2 of that system replaces the current work permit system and will take effect from November 2008.

Under Tier 2, non-EEA nationals wishing to work in the UK will receive points based on their qualifications, prospective earnings and the type of application being made (for example inter-company transfer, shortage occupation or application requiring advertising). If they are eligible for sufficient points and the job meets the necessary requirements for Tier 2 then employers may issue them with a virtual "certificate of sponsorship" using a unique reference number (rather than making a work permit application to the UK Border Agency). The onus is very much on the employer to ensure that the migrant and the post fulfil the criteria for a certificate of sponsorship under Tier 2.

The migrant will use the certificate of sponsorship reference number to apply for entry clearance to travel to the UK.

In order for employers to be able to issue certificates of sponsorship, they will need to be registered as "sponsors" with the UK Border Agency.

Our note below sets out the basic principles of the process for registration as a sponsor, however we strongly suggest that employers also follow the links to the websites set out in this document for further information, including in particular the standards expected of employers for acceptance onto the sponsorship register.

Sponsor Registration

To become a sponsor, employers will have to apply for a licence from the UK Border Agency. Once the licence has been granted they will be registered on the sponsorship register with the UK Border Agency and will have access to an online "sponsor management system" enabling them to issue certificates of sponsorship.

Applications for admission onto the sponsorship register are now open. Although Tier 2 does not commence operation until November 2008, it is important that employers register now in order to avoid any backlog when the system goes live, especially if the employer needs to employ new non-EEA nationals as soon as the system commences in November. The UK Border Agency has said that applications received by 1 October 2008 will be guaranteed to be dealt with in time for the opening of the scheme on 1 November.

In order to register employers must make an online application:

Employers must make the online applications themselves. The UK Border Agency's website says:

"You must make the application yourself, although you can use a legal representative to help with your application. Any applications submitted by a legal representative will be rejected."

Once the application has been submitted online, employers must then send the necessary fee and supporting documents by post within 10 days.

Every employer who wishes to bring non-EEA nationals to work in the UK from November or to renew current work permits must register to be a sponsor.

Considerations Before Registration As A Sponsor

Before proceeding to register as a sponsor, employers should consider the following:

  1. Number Of Certificates: The application form requires the employer to specify the number of certificates of sponsorship which it is likely to issue in the next year. Consideration should therefore be given to the number of work permits previously applied for and number of non-EEA nationals whom the company is likely to want to bring to the UK from November. Employers should be aware that if this estimate is reached during the year the employer would need to contact the UK Border Agency and explain why further certificates of sponsorship are required.

  2. Access To Sponsorship Management System: Employers must also consider which employees will have access to the Sponsorship Management System. All these individuals must be based in the UK and the UK Border Agency will conduct background checks on the Authorising Officer, Level 1 Users and the Key Contact. There are three levels of access to the Sponsorship Management System:

    1. "Authorising officer": This is the person who has overall responsibility for immigration within the company. This would usually be the HR Manager/Director or, if none, the Operations Manager/Company Secretary or similar role. The UK Border Agency will conduct Criminal Records Bureau checks against this individual to ensure that they are fit and proper to hold this post. The Authorising officer is ultimately responsible for the activities of anyone acting on the organisation's behalf to issue certificates and sponsorship.

    2. "Level 1 users": Level 1 users are responsible for administration of the company's sponsorship. They will manage access to the sponsor management system by other employees, update organisation details, inform the UK Border Agency of any change of circumstances, apply for any sponsorship licence renewal, request additional certificates of sponsorship, withdraw sponsorship of any migrant and have access to all certificate and sponsorship activity. At present on the application for sponsorship the organisation may only specify one Level 1 user. However, once the sponsorship licence has been approved and the company has access to sponsor management system, that Level 1 user may set up a structure of users to manage the allocation of the certificates and sponsorship.

    3. "Level 2 users": Level 2 users have the ability to assign the certificates of sponsorship to employees, to report migrant activity, to track migrant applications and have access to their own certificate and sponsorship activity. The company may have as many Level 2 users as it wishes.

  3. Site Visit: As part of the application process, the UK Border Agency will arrange a visit to the employer's site by an account manager. This visit is designed to ensure that the UK employer genuinely exists and has appropriate HR and compliance systems in place to enable it to comply with its duties as a sponsor (see below). Once this visit is undertaken, the sponsor will be assessed either as an A rated or B rated employer. Employers will be B rated if they do not meet all of the criteria for HR and compliance. Further information about these can be found at:

  4. Checklist: The UK Border Agency has put together a checklist and top tips which employers should read through before making a sponsorship application, to ensure that they are ready and have the expected HR/Compliance systems in place:

Sponsorship Duties

The sponsor's duties are:

Record keeping;

The sponsor must keep a photocopy or electronic copy of the migrant's passport together with the migrant's up to date contact details and a copy of the migrant's biometric ID card (when ID cards are implemented later this year).


The sponsor must report the following events:

  • If the migrant does not turn up for work within 10 working days;

  • If the migrant is absent from work for over 10 working days (unauthorised);

  • If the contract of employment ends (within 10 working days);

  • If there are significant changes to the sponsorship circumstances such as a change of job or salary;

  • If the sponsor has suspicions that the migrant is breaching conditions of leave;

  • Any significant changes to the sponsor's status such as if the sponsor becomes insolvent or is bought by another company; and

  • Details of any third party that helped in the recruitment of employees.

These matters are reported via the sponsor management system.


The sponsors must comply with the following obligations:

  • Ensure that the migrant is legally allowed to do the job and has any registration or professional accreditation needed;

  • Ensure that it does not employ someone whose immigration status does not allow them to do the job they're applying for;

  • Ensure that the certificate of sponsorship is only issued to migrants who, to the best of the sponsor's knowledge, meet the requirements of the Tier and the category they're applying under.

Co-operation with the UK Border Agency; and

Employers must allow UK Border Agency staff access to premises on demand. Visits may be either prearranged or unannounced. Employers must stick to any sponsorship action plan set by the UK Border Agency and look to minimise the risk of immigration abuse by complying with any good practice guidance that it or any sector body may produce for employers in particular tiers or sectors.

Additional duties specific to the relevant Tier

Employers applying under Tier 2 must make sure that:

  • The job is at S/NVQ3 skill level or above;

  • The job is a genuine vacancy and meets the resident labour market test, is on the shortage occupation list or is an intra-company transfer; and

  • The migrant will be paid the appropriate salary rate for the job.

For inter-company transfer applications, the employer must also ensure that the migrant has been working for the overseas part of the employer's organisation for at least six months.

We would advise that the employer keeps records to demonstrate all of these matters (such as copies of any advertising undertaken, where relevant), in case the UK Border Agency wishes to inspect any such documents during a site visit.

The detailed guidance for Tier 2 and for issuing certificates of sponsorship has not yet been published by the UK Border Agency. In the meantime outline information can be obtained from the UK Border Agency website:

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.