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Certificate of Sponsorship

A Certificate of Sponsorship certifies an overseas worker’s proposed employment in the UK. You need a Certificate of Sponsorship before you can apply for a skilled worker visa.

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    What is a Certificate of Sponsorship?

    Overseas workers are vital to many of the UK’s industries but to apply for a skilled worker visa, international workers must first hold a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from an employer with a valid license.

    What is a Certificate of Sponsorship?

    A Certificate of Sponsorship is an electronic record similar to a database record.

    The sponsoring employer issues a Certificate of Sponsorship to foreign nationals they are seeking to employ. The CoS certifies the worker’s proposed employment conditions, and enables the worker to then apply for a work visa.

    Most UK work visas require sponsorship from a UK-based employer. Therefore to apply for a UK work visa such as a skilled worker visa, you will need to have secured a suitable job and sponsorship.

    The Certificate of Sponsorship is assigned by your prospective employer via their online Sponsor Management System account (SMS). You will be provided with a certificate number which you must use when submitting your visa application.

    There are two types of Certificate of Sponsorship determined by the amount of earnings you will be earning whilst working in the UK.

    Once your CoS is issued, you have three months to submit your work permit application.

    Call us on 0161 826 8769 to speak with one of our employment immigration lawyers in Manchester for help with your work permit application or Certificate of Sponsorship matter if you are an employer.

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    Purpose of a Certificate of Sponsorship

    By issuing your Certificate of Sponsorship, your prospective employer certifies that the job you have been offered meets the requirements for the Skilled Worker Visa, this includes meeting the minimum skill level requirement and the minimum salary threshold requirement.

    It also certifies that they will carry out specific sponsorship responsibilities whilst you are employed by them.

    What are the types of UK Certificate of Sponsorship?

    There are two types of Certificate of Sponsorship:

    • Unrestricted certificates. When your employer applies for a Sponsor Licence, they must estimate the number of Certificates of Sponsorship they’ll need. Companies can get as many unrestricted certificates as they need, provided that they show evidence of the number of foreign employers they need to hire.
    • Restricted certificates, which are for Skilled Workers currently abroad, or dependants of Student Visa migrants who are switching to a work visa. The employer must apply for restricted certificates through the SMS.

    It must be noted that all prospective employees based outside the UK will need a restricted Certificate of Sponsorship unless they will be working in a role which pays £159,600 a year or more, or in an inward investment post.

    Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship monthly allocation

    There is a monthly allocation requirement for restricted Certificates of Sponsorship on the 11th of each month. Moreover, there is an annual cap of 20,700 Certificates of Sponsorship, split into 12 monthly caps. More details are here on the government website: Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship monthly allocation

    Your sponsor employer must apply for your Certificate of Sponsorship by the 5th of the month to be allocated a restricted Certificate of Sponsorship in time by the 11th of that month.

    When can I apply for a skilled worker visa?

    Once your Certificate of Sponsorship has been assigned to you, you have 3 months to make your skilled worker visa application. After this time, your Certificate of Sponsorship will expire, and your employer will need to issue a new one.

    Note that during these 3 months, you cannot be assigned any additional Certificate of Sponsorship by another employer.

    Who needs a Certificate of Sponsorship?

    A Certificate of Sponsorship is required for all Tier 2 visa applicants and most Tier 5 visa applicants.

    This does not include the Youth Mobility scheme, since for this route, the applicant’s country of origin acts as the sponsor.

    A Certificate of Sponsorship is also not needed in the case of anyone in the UK on a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa, who can work for a company without a Certificate of Sponsorship.

    Certificate of Sponsorship fees

    The Certificate of Sponsorship fee is determined by the type of CoS you are applying for:

    • Tier 2 Certificate of Sponsorship – £199
    • Tier 5 Certificate of Sponsorship – £21

    Note that you may also have to pay the ‘immigration skills charge’ if cases where you are employing someone on a Tier 2 General visa or a Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer visa.

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              Frequently Asked Questions

              Once your CoS is granted, you will not receive a physical certificate, but a code that you must report on your application form. Nevertheless, you can ask your employer to print out the details for your certificate from the SMS system.

              If you do not wish to apply for a visa anymore, you should contact your sponsor, so they can cancel the Certificate of Sponsorship.

              Otherwise, if you fail to do so, your CoS will automatically expire after three months if you do not submit your application.

              If you wish to take up alternative employment in the UK, you need to follow these steps:

              • Ensure that your new employer can sponsor your new Skilled Worker Visa application.
              • Ask your current sponsor to withdraw your live CoS. You cannot request a new one until your original certificate remains live. Your employer must cancel your CoS within five days of receiving your request. If they fail to do so, you can ask the Sponsor Licensing Unit of the UKVI to cancel it instead.
              • Once your original CoS is cancelled, you can apply for another one from your new employer.

              For a UK business seeking to hire foreign workers we offer a range of corporate immigration services. For Certificates of Sponsorship, we will:

              • Assess the individual and the job role of the person you wish to hire, and ascertain which type of CoS you will need
              • Check all the prospective employee’s and ensure they are meeting immigration requirements
              • Check that the job role the prospective employee will fill is either on the UK Occupation Shortage List or that it has passed the UK Labour Market Test
              • Assist with your company’s use of the Online Management System
              • Ensure you are carrying out your sponsorship duties correctly

              For more advice about your company hiring migrant nationals and your immigration duties, get in touch now on 0333 363 8577 or make an enquiry online to speak with an immigration lawyer.