What is the Pre-licence Priority Service?

Pre-licence Priority Service

Applying for a sponsor licence is crucial for UK companies with a vision of tapping into the global talent pool. It enables them to legally recruit professionals from overseas to enhance their workforce with diverse and unique skill sets. However, the process of obtaining this licence can be complex and time-consuming, often requiring around 8 weeks before a decision is made by the Home Office.

This prolonged waiting period could be an obstruction for companies that urgently need to onboard international expertise. Addressing this pressing need, the Home Office introduced the Pre-licence Priority Service. In this guide, we will explore the service in detail, including its eligibility criteria, application process, and other important details. Let’s get started.

What is the Pre-licence Priority Service?

The Pre-licence Priority Service is a special initiative by the Home Office that allows UK companies to streamline their sponsor licence application process, ensuring a quicker decision, typically within 10 working days, in exchange for an additional fee. This is especially advantageous for organisations that need to make urgent hires from abroad.

The benefits are clear: Instead of waiting for 8 weeks, companies can expect a decision on their sponsor licence application in just 10 working days. This allows organisations to adapt to changing business needs, ensuring they can hire the right talent when they need it.

It’s important to note that while the sponsor licence priority service offers a faster processing time, it doesn’t guarantee the outcome of the application. Companies must still meet the requisite criteria set by the Home Office for a successful sponsor licence application.

Sponsor Licence Priority Service Requirements

To utilise the Pre-licence Priority Service for expediting your sponsor licence application, specific requirements set by the Home Office must be met. Below are the criteria outlined in the Home Office sponsor licence guidance:

  1. You must have applied for a sponsor licence in a qualified route(s) by registering and filling out the online application form on the Home Office Website.
  2. Both the standard application fee for a sponsor licence and the priority service fee must have been paid.
  3. If you’re aiming to add the priority service to an application that’s already been submitted, that application should not currently be in progress.
  4. You will need to send the submission sheet along with all mandatory and supplementary documents relevant to the work routes you’re applying for within 5 working days of paying the priority service fee. For those wishing to add the priority service to an application that has already been submitted, you should have previously submitted these documents in line with the initial application. These documents should be sent to SponsorshipValidations@homeoffice.gov.uk.

How to Apply for the Pre-licence Priority Service

The process to apply for an application for a sponsor licence priority service is now more straightforward after the changes as of 21 June 2023. When completing your application, you now have the option to request the Pre-licence Priority Service simultaneously. 

Earlier, after submitting your online sponsor licence application, you’d need to send the required documents to SponsorshipValidations@homeoffice.gov.uk. The Pre-licence Priority Service was available for request between 9.00 a.m. and 23.59 p.m. on the working days, excluding public holidays. Only 30 priority service slots were open each day. If your request were successful, you’d get an email confirming an available slot, followed by another email with a payment link, and payment had to be completed within 72 hours.

However, now you can directly request the Pre-licence Priority Service when you’re in the process of filling out your sponsor application. Your payment details and service choice will be visible on your submission sheet. The service is still available between the same time windows, and the cap of 30 daily priority requests remains.

What’s Next After the Application

After successfully applying for the Pre-licence Priority Service, your application is set on a faster track, giving you a decisionwithin a span of 10 working days. This 10-day window begins the day after the priority service fee has been processed, with weekends and public holidays excluded from the count. 

It’s crucial  to note that several factors can influence the ability to adhere to this 10-working-day commitment, including:

  1. Not submitting all required mandatory and supplementary documents within the specified 5 working days post fee payment.
  2. Delay or failure in addressing a request for additional details.
  3. Additional assessments are required in order to arrive at a well-informed decision regarding the application.

If there’s additional information or clarification needed, the priority service team at the Home Office will send an email regarding the specifics. Hence, it’s vital for the authorising officer to monitor their email consistently, including the spam or junk folder.

Once a decision is made, the result of the application is communicated via email to the designated authorising officer mentioned in the sponsor licence application.

Sponsor Licence Priority Service Fee

The fee for the Pre-licence Priority Service is specifically set at £500 as of now. This amount is in addition to the regular sponsor licence application fee. 

It’s crucial to note that the £500 for the Pre-licence Priority Service is usually non-refundable in scenarios such as:

  • Omission to submit all essential documents.
  • Failing to answer a request for supplementary information.
  • The application raises questions that demand a more exhaustive inspection.

However, if there’s a delay due to issues not aligned with the standard application process, like technical glitches, the priority service fee might qualify for a refund.

Causes of Unsuccessful Priority Service Requests

While the Pre-licence Priority Service offers a faster route for organisations applying for a sponsor licence, not all requests will be successful. With a maximum of 30 priority service requests available daily, the demand can sometimes outweigh the slots.

Additionally, applications might be declined if they are incomplete, have missing documents, or don’t meet the eligibility criteria set by UK Visas and Immigration. As mentioned earlier, the priority service does not guarantee approval; it just expedites the processing time. Businesses should ensure they thoroughly follow guidelines and submit a complete, accurate application.


The Pre-licence Priority Service highlights the UK’s dedication to empowering businesses to quickly access global talent. It streamlines the sponsor licence application, but businesses must ensure accuracy and completeness in their submissions. While the service may speed up the processing time, the success of the application still depends on its accuracy and completeness.

Need Expert Guidance on Sponsor Licence? 

If you have any questions or are in need of expert guidance on the skilled worker sponsor licence process, the team at Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors is here to help. We have extensive experience in assisting businesses like yours in guiding the complexities of UK immigration law.

How can we assist?

  • Application Review: Our experts will thoroughly review your sponsor licence application, ensuring it’s free from mistakes and inconsistencies.
  • Comprehensive Guidance: We will provide step-by-step guidance, helping you understand the benefits and risks of obtaining a sponsor licence and ensuring all relevant documentation is in place.
  • Priority Service Insights: Our familiarity with the Pre-licence Priority Service ensures that you have a clear understanding of the expedited process, increasing your chances of a successful outcome.
  • Representation: In case of challenges or disputes, our skilled solicitors can represent your interests, ensuring your rights are protected, and your application has the best chance of success.

Reach out to us today, and let’s transform your sponsor licence journey into a seamless experience.


To use the Pre-licence Priority Service, you need to apply for a sponsor licence through the standard application process. During the application, you can select the option to use the priority service and pay the additional priority service fee.

The application fee for the Pre-licence Priority Service is the same as the standard application fee for a sponsor licence. The additional fee is the priority service fee.

The priority service can be requested after submitting your sponsor licence application unless it’s in progress. To do this, simply log back into your sponsor application account with your credentials and choose ‘Complete Unfinished Applications’.

No, the service is not universally available for all types of sponsor licence applications. Its availability is typically dependent on specific criteria set out by the Home Office. Such as, it can’t be applied for GBM UK Expansion Worker, GBM Service Supplier, Seasonal Worker, Scale-up Worker, etc. visas.

No, the Pre-licence Priority Service does not guarantee the approval of your sponsor licence application. It only prioritises the processing of your application. The decision on your application will still be based on meeting the requirements and criteria for a sponsor licence.

Ask our Expert Legal Team

At Gulbenkian Andonian, we pride ourselves on “Excellence, Experience and Efficiency”. With over 35 years of experience on your side, our team of London based lawyers and solicitors have a wealth of experience advising individuals, families and businesses of all sizes to find clarity on UK law.

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