Many years ago, back in the mists of time, there was the “Work Permit” visa. Then a few years ago came the “Tier 2 Skilled Worker” visa, and then in late 2020 came the “Skilled Worker” visa. It was more or less the same sort of visa all the way through but the surrounding scheme changed considerably.
With the Tier 2 Skilled Worker visa came the scheme of employer sponsorship, which we still have, with a few modifications.
For a UK-based employer to sponsor (ie employ) a skilled worker from outside the UK they must hold a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence, which is issued by the Home Office. Like most things in this area the licence is not a hardcopy paper document: it is a virtual entity.
Holding a sponsor licence enables an employer to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (COS), which is also a virtual entity. It has a unique reference number. Once the COS has been issued the prospective employee can make a Skilled Worker visa application (either from in the UK or outside, depending on the case), quoting the unique reference number. If all goes well they get the visa and they can start work in their skilled job with that employer.
This is a very brief and simple account: there is a considerable complexity in some of the rules and requirements. If you need assistance with either a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence application or a Skilled Worker application we at GSN Immigration will be able to help you.
OISC Level 3 Immigration Adviser