How has the sponsorship licence changed for employers and employees?

The Home Office published in 2020 proposed changes that will affect employers applying for a sponsorship licence and assigning certificates of sponsorships. The table below highlights the main changes to the sponsor licence application.

Pre-1st January 2021 From the 1st January 2021
Employers did not need to apply for a sponsorship licence to employ EU/EEA citizens. Only those that were from outside the EU/EEA required a certificate of sponsorship.  Employers are required to apply for a sponsor licence if they are wanting to employ anyone from outside of the UK (Irish nationals are exempt).
The job role must be at a Level 6 on the Regulated Qualification Framework (RQF) and be on the Standard Occupational Code (SOC) job list. The job role only needs to be at a Level 3 on the RQF (e.g. a school leaver), it must also be on the SOC job list.
The employer must pay the experienced sponsored worker a minimum of £30,000 or the job’s SOC codes minimum salary, whichever is higher. The employer must pay the experienced worker a minimum of at least £25,600 or the job’s SOC codes minimum salary, whichever is higher.
The sponsor must conduct a Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) to ensure the roles are offered to the workers in the UK first before it is offered to migrants. The RLMT is abolished, making it easier for employers seeking to obtain a sponsor licence.
Employers would assign restricted or unrestricted certificates of sponsorships (CoS). Employers will now assign defined or undefined CoS. Undefined CoS are for individuals applying within the UK. Defined CoS are for individuals applying for a skilled worker visa from outside of the UK.


The new rules set out above introduce a relaxation of the previous more onerous regulations.  It also allows for employers to employ individuals with a lower level of educational qualification than was previously allowed. This is of particular interest to employers wishing to recruit non-UK nationals, as the law has now made it easier for employers to obtain a sponsor licence. 

How can NA Law solicitors help?

If you are wishing to apply for a sponsorship licence please get in touch with us to speak to our specialist team on how to make a successful sponsorship licence application. We can also assist you with renewing your sponsorship licence application in line with the new law or challenging a revocation of an existing sponsorship licence

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