The Smart guide to sponsorship

With offices in London and across Australia, our teachers and support staff are sourced globally to ensure we recruit the highest calibre of candidates. Part of the recruitment process can involve dealing with sponsorship. To help both our schools and supply staff understand how this works, we’ve produced a handy guide below.


Who is eligible to apply for a Tier 2 sponsorship visa?

Candidates who have been offered a skilled job in the UK and come from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland can apply for a Tier 2 sponsorship via. The visa must be applied for outside of the UK and they must have job offer with a starting salary of £30,000 or more.

What needs to be provided when applying?

  • Proof of their knowledge of English through a NARIC (National Recognition Information Centre) certificate. A full list of exempt countries including Australia, New Zealand, Canada can be the .Gov website
  • A bank statement that shows the candidate has enough savings (at least £945 for 90 days + £630 for each dependent)
  • Current and any expired passports
  • Criminal record certificate

Biometrics (fingerprints and photograph) will also be taken at the visa application centre as part of the process. 

How long does the process take?

The earliest the visa can be applied for is 3 months before your start date and a decision on the visa should be reached within 3 weeks from the date you submit your completed application. You can also check the .Gov website for guide visa processing times

How much does it cost?

Applying for first time (outside UK) 

Up to 3 years - £610 (£464 for subject shortage) 

£704 if extending or switching within the UK

More than 3 years -  £1200 (£928 for subject shortage)

£1408 if extending or switching within the UK (£928 for subject shortage)

The cost is per person - additional dependants will also be charged as above. The applicant will also need to pay a healthcare surcharge, which is calculated on a variety of different criteria. They can calculate their charge on the .Gov website

What subject areas are on the shortage list?

  • Maths
  • Physics
  • Science (where an element of physics will be taught)
  • Computer science
  • Mandarin

What restrictions are there once the candidate is sponsored?

  • The candidate can only work for the sponsor in the job described in the certificate of sponsorship (e.g they cannot change roles within the school)
  • The candidate cannot get public funds
  • They can gain a second job in certain circumstances, but they must not apply for this until they’ve started working for the sponsor



A Tier 2 licence costs £536.

An Immigration skills charge may also be payable, but is not always necessary. It costs £364 for first 12 months, followed by £182 for each additional 6 months. The whole amount needs to be paid in one go (e.g to sponsor for 5 years = 5 x £364 = school pays £1820)

The Tier 2 certificate is also payable at £199 per person and additional dependants will also be charged.

What is the step-by-step process?

Firstly, schools need to gain a sponsorship licence (skip if your school already has one). To gain a licence, they need to:

  • Check eligibility
  • Choose the type of licence (Tier 2)
  • Decide who will manage sponsorship within school
  • Apply online, submit supporting documents and pay the fee (£536)
  • After submitting the application, the school will receive a licence rating (A) - this can be downgraded later if they don’t uphold their duties
  • Access to the Sponsorship Management System (SMS) once the licence is granted

Schools then need to advertise their vacancy (can skip if subject is on the shortage list). They must:

  • Place at least two adverts
  • Have advertised for at least 28 calendar days (this can be in two stages)
  • Follow other rules outlined in Home Office’s Guidance for Sponsors document under ‘How to carry out the resident labour market test’ to advertise correctly

They will then collect applications and shortlist sponsorship candidates. In the case where only one candidate is shortlisted, they must show why the individual was shortlisted and why the other candidates were rejected. They must also keep interview notes which show that no EEA candidate was suitable for employment

They then apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship. Applications received after the 5th day of the month will be held until the following month.

Applications to employ a sponsorship candidate are considered on the first working day after the 10th day of the month and the certificate will appear in the SMS on the allocation date if the application has been approved.

They will then be assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship, electronically through the SMS.

The candidate will need to apply for a visa  using the unique certificate number. This must be used within 3 months from when they’re assigned.

Things to note,

  • The Tier 2 limit is 20,700 certificates of sponsorship each year (beginning on 6 April and ending on 5 April), which is split into 12 monthly caps.
  • We recommend People Force to help schools through the process, especially if they are doing this for the first time.
  • Different fees and processes apply to extend a visa or to switch sponsors while in the UK.