Nighat Sahi

Published 23 April 2024

Sponsor Licence Holders and Related Organisations

A Sponsor Licence only allows the legal entity granted the licence (the Sponsor Licence holders) to sponsor workers. Therefore what happens if a global organisation or a company with a number of different branches needs to transfer an employee to one of its related companies that is not a licence holder? In this post, we take a look at the options and requirements involved.

Different types of licence

Companies and employers need a sponsor licence to employ someone to work from outside the UK. This also applies if the employee will be doing unpaid work, like running a charity.

The licence needed depends on whether the workers are:

  • ‘Workers’ – for skilled or long-term employment
  • ‘Temporary workers’ – for specific types of temporary employment

It is possible to apply for a licence covering one or both types of worker.

A ‘Worker’ licence relates to different types of skilled employment. The skilled work can be for a short time, long-term or permanent depending on the worker’s visa. There are four types of worker visa, and these include the Skilled Worker visa and the Global Business Mobility (GBM) visa – this latter being for multinational companies which need to transfer established employees to the UK. There are minimum salary and skill level requirements for a GBM visa.

A ‘Temporary Worker’ licence allows sponsorship on a temporary basis, including for volunteering and job-shadowing and you can only get a Temporary Worker licence for specific types of employment and visas. There are 11 different types of Temporary Worker licence, and these include the Scale Up Worker for people coming to work for a fast-growing UK business.

Adding linked organisations

A Sponsor Licence does not allow sister, parent or subsidiary companies to sponsor a worker unless they have been specifically added or included in the licence. The same applies to an organisation that opens or acquires a new branch.

In order for a related or linked company to sponsor a worker under a Sponsor Licence, it is necessary to: 

  • Apply to the Home Office for the related company or branch to be added to the Sponsor Licence as a linked UK entity
  • Once the related company has been added, the worker may commence work for the new company
  • The original and main licence holder must report that the worker is working for the linked company (including reporting any change of job title, duties, salary, hours per week or work location) within ten working days of any change taking place.

If any change of duties takes the worker out of the scope of their visa occupation code, a new Certificate of Sponsorship and visa application will be required before the worker can start work.

Alternative options

In some cases, a linked company or branch may be able to obtain a Sponsor Licence in their own right, however, it is often easier for a company to manage Sponsor Licences for all organisations through a single sponsorship management system.

That said, a linked company may wish to hold its own licence to mitigate against any associated risk should the original licence holder have compliance issues.

As another alternative, in some cases, it may be possible for a licence holder to sponsor a worker employed by a related company as their own skilled worker.


The UK immigration process can take up to three months. If the transfer of workers is likely in your organisation, then it is important to plan in advance and take into account the appropriate course of action. If you would like to discuss any sponsor licence holder issues, please get in touch.

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