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Are Sponsorship Licences the Answer to Filling UK Skills Shortages?

British industry chiefs have warned the UK is facing a summer of food shortages similar to a series of “rolling power cuts” because of a loss of up to 100,000 lorry drivers as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit.

Indeed, the UK government has held emergency talks with retailers, logistics groups and wholesalers as this lack of drivers threatens to leave gaps on supermarket shelves.

The UK is also facing shortages in many other skilled occupations, including veterinarians, civil engineers and graphic designers.

Of course, as the UK gradually emerges from the Covid pandemic, industry needs to be given all the tools it needs to thrive – including sufficient people power to ensure crucial jobs are filled. If these positions cannot be filled by UK citizens, or those EU citizens resident in the UK as part of the EU Settlement Scheme (of which the deadline for applications recently closed at the end of June), then employers may consider looking at the option of UK visa sponsorship for employees.

A sponsor licence (or Tier-2 Sponsor Licence) is usually needed to employ someone to work for a UK company from outside the UK. This includes citizens of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland who arrived in the UK after 31 December 2020. This includes unpaid work, like running a charity.

The fee for a sponsor licence depends on the size and type of organisation. Fees are usually reviewed annually by the Home Office which publishes them on its website. Organisations classified as “medium” and “large” are required to pay a sponsor licence fee of £1,476. A “small” organisation is required to pay £536 – these are companies with an annual turnover of £10.2 million or less, with total assets worth £5.1 million or less and with up to 50 employees. Registered charities are also considered to be “small” sponsors.

Full guidance on Tier-2 Sponsor Licences can be found at

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