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Immigration — Umbrella Licences


21 December 2018 

Thomas Miles



When employing migrants under a Sponsor Licence, some companies find that they face difficulty in being able to adapt to changing business needs by virtue of their migrants being restricted to working for the particular company acting as the Sponsor. However, it may be helpful to know that actually there are opportunities to implement a more flexible sponsorship arrangement.

Although the ordinary requirement is that the migrant must only work for their Sponsor, that is actually extended to include other companies that are formally registered with the Home Office as being a “branch” of the Sponsor. In this context, “branch” has a very different meaning to the ordinary everyday concept - it refers simply to any other company (or other entity) that is suitably linked with the Sponsor.

Normally, this necessary link between the other entity and the Sponsor will be determined on the same basis as it would be for a Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) linking application - i.e. there being common ownership or control. So for example, if the two entities in the UK share the same ultimate parent company (even if through a series of other ownerships) then they would qualify to be linked - and so one could be named as a “branch” on the Licence of the other.

Once the other entity is registered by the Home Office as a branch of the Sponsor, then any migrants of the Sponsor are able to work for that branch. This can therefore be an extremely valuable tool for corporate groups that have a number of entities in the UK and need the flexibility of moving migrants between those entities - or even if there is just one single migrant that needs to carry out some work in the other entities.

Some key points:

  • Being registered as a “branch” with the Home Office does not directly affect any other legal status the entity may have.

  • It is possible for two companies who are Sponsors to also be registered as branches of each other.

  • Evidence of the common ownership or other suitable link must be supplied to the Home Office, and it may take approximately 18 weeks for the application to be approved.

  • Although migrants can work for the other branches, they must still be working in accordance with their CoS - i.e. job title, salary, etc. unless suitable amendments are made.

  • An update should be made on the SMS if a migrant is changing who they work for or their work location.

  • The Sponsor will remain liable for all sponsorship duties in respect of the migrant - i.e. salary, record keeping, etc.


This arrangement can assist businesses in all sorts of situations, and can be incorporated into complex structures to facilitate speed and flexibility to maximise business opportunities. It also of course, means that just one Sponsor Licence can cover a number of entities - saving the cost and administrative burden of obtaining and maintaining a number of Licences.
Given that for so many of our clients their sponsored migrant workers are an essential element of their business, it is vital to remember that Immigration Law should be a key part of any corporate strategy.


For more information please contact one of our immigration team.





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