One way to work in the UK as a migrant is through sponsored employment as a Skilled Worker. A migrant's leave in the UK as a Skilled Worker is tied to the condition that they work for their sponsored employer. It is possible to sponsor yourself to work in the UK if you already have set up or would like to set up a UK based company. In this blog post, we will consider the three stage process you must go through to self-sponsor as a Skilled Worker.

Self-Sponsorship as a Skilled Worker Stage 1 – Sponsor Licence

In order to sponsor yourself to work in the UK, your business must first be registered with Companies House and have a sponsor licence allowing the company to sponsor migrant workers. To obtain a sponsor licence the company must be a genuine business and be operating lawfully within the UK. When applying for a sponsor licence the company must provide at least four documents from Appendix A, an extensive list including but not limited to the below mentioned evidence:

  • Evidence of employers' liability insurance covering at least £5 million from an insure authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority;
  • Proof of registration with HMRC;
  • Latest acknowledgement of a Company Tax Return;
  • HMRC VAT registration certificate;
  • Proof of ownership or lease of your business premises;
  • Most recent annual accounts, certified by a regulated accountant;
  • Latest corporate or business bank statement, from a bank regulated by the FCA and PRA.

Please be aware that the evidence mentioned above must coincide with the formatting specified by the Home Office guidance.

There is also some further specified evidence the company will need to supply the Home Office with in the application. You may wish to speak with one of our business immigration barristers for more detailed information and advice on the documentation required.

Key Roles

A sponsor licence comes with many responsibilities and duties. If the company does not abide by these rules, the sponsor licence may be downgraded, suspended or revoked (which is discussed in our recent blog posts). The key personnel responsible for upholding these duties are:

  • Authorising officer – senior competent person responsible for actions of staff and SMS system;
  • Key contact – main point of contact with UKVI;
  • Level 1 user – responsible for day-to-day management of licence.

The roles can be filled by the same person or multiple people. However the level 1 user must be an employee or office holder, they must be British or settled and they cannot be a relative or partner of the proposed immigrant. The person must also meet certain suitability criteria in order to be eligible for the roles. For more information on the key roles refer to our previous blog post here.

Self-Sponsored Skilled Worker Visa Stage 2 – Certificate of Sponsorship

Once your company has obtained a sponsor licence it will now need to also apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). The CoS will certify the terms of your employment. If you are currently inside the UK, the company needs to assign an undefined CoS. This can be requested when applying for the sponsor licence or alternatively the company can request one after the fact. If you are outside the UK the company needs to assign a defined CoS, which they can get by making an allocation application.

When assigning a CoS the company will need to select an occupation code which best reflects the type of role and the job description you as the proposed worker will be undertaking. Appendix Skilled Occupations provides information on each eligible occupation code.

UK Self-Sponsorship Visa Stage 3 – Skilled Worker Visa Application

Once your company has obtained a sponsor licence and a CoS, you, the proposed worker will be able to apply as a Skilled Worker. The following criteria must be met in a skilled worker application. The Applicant must be:

  • Aged 18 or over;
  • Have a valid certificate of sponsorship for the job they are planning to do;
  • The job offer is a genuine vacancy;
  • The sponsor has pad any required Immigration Skills Charge;
  • The job is at an appropriate skill level;
  • They are competent in the English Language to at least CEFR Level B1;
  • They will be paid a salary which equals or exceeds both the general salary threshold and the 'going rate' for the occupation;
  • They have enough money to support themselves without relying on public funds.

Genuine Vacancy

The Home Office must be satisfied that you (the sponsored worker) are being sponsored in order to fill a genuine vacancy within your company. Therefore the Home Office will want to make sure that you are qualified and capable of fulfilling the role along with recruitment evidence making sure of this.

Appropriate Skill level

The vacant position must be an eligible job at or above a minimum skill level. Eligible positions are set out by the Home Office in Appendix Skilled Occupations. Each job has an occupation code and the Skilled Worker must be assigned the occupation code which fits closest with their job description. Where the Home Office finds that the selected occupation code does not match the job description, there is a risk of refusal of your Skilled Worker application.

Appropriate Salary

You, the sponsored migrant worker, must be paid the appropriate salary for the position you will be undertaking. Salary is defined as guaranteed gross pay and does not usually include any benefits or bonuses. How the appropriate salary is determined varies between each job code and must be prorated as per the hours on the CoS.

The general salary threshold for a skilled worker is currently £26,200 per annum based on a 37.5 hour work week. The hourly rate is £10.75. You must be paid £26,200 per annum, £10.75 per hour, or the going rate for the occupation code (whichever is higher). Note that the general salary threshold is due to increase to £38,700 per annum from April 2023, along with other changes to the salary requirement. You can read more about these changes in our blogpost here.


How long is my route to settlement ?

The route to settlement on the Skilled Worker route is 5 years. You can be granted permission to be in the UK until 14 days after the end date of your CoS and up to a maximum of 5 years after the start date on the CoS.

Do I have to take a salary?

Yes, as a Skilled Worker you will be required to be paid in line with the salary requirements. If you are not, you risk the Home Office revoking the company's Sponsor Licence.

What type of job can I do?

As the founder of the company and the Skilled Worker it is likely you will fall into a CEO type role. However each occupation code varies depending on your industry and many other factors are in play. The barristers at Richmond Chambers will be pleased to advise on what occupation codes are most applicable to you in a consultation meeting where they can take your full instructions.

Can I set up a company if I am already in the UK?

The answer to the question is more complex than it seems. Depending on your visa and the rights you have while in the UK, it may be possible to set up a UK business. Some applicants may need to seek further financial advice in order to set up a business bank account.

Can I also do other work outside of my company?

Skilled workers can also do additional work outside of their CoS however there are certain conditions that need to be met. Usually, the work must either be in the same profession and at the same level as the work assigned in the CoS or on Shortage Occupation list. You also can complete no more than 20 hours a week of extra work and the additional work being completed must take place outside the hours in your CoS.

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.