What is a Certificate of Sponsorship?
Overseas workers are vital to many of the UK’s industries but apply for a Tier 2 Visa, international workers must first hold a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from an employer with a valid licence.
In other words, your prospective employer must request and assign your CoS via their online Sponsor Management System account (SMS). Once your CoS is issued, you have 3 months to submit your application.
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Why do I need a Certificate of Sponsorship?
By issuing your Certificate of Sponsorship, your prospective employer certifies that the job you have been offered meets the following conditions:
- The employer has met the requirements of the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT). This means that the job has first been advertised to workers in the UK but no eligible candidate was available.
- The role meets the Tier 2 minimum skill level requirements, which are Regulated Qualification Framework (RQF) level 6 or above, or RQF level 4 or above if the job is on the Tier 2 Shortage Occupations List.
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 Tier 2 and Tier 5 certificates 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 Tier 2 (General) workers currently abroad, or dependants of Tier 4 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 CoS unless they will be working in a role which pays 159,600 a year or more, or in an inward investment post.
How does the monthly allocation for Tier 2 Restricted Certificates work?
There is a monthly allocation requirement for restricted COSs on the 11th of each month. Moreover, there is an annual cap of 20,700 splits into 12 monthly caps.
Your employer must apply for your CoS by the 5th of the month to be allocated a restricted CoS in time by the 11th of that month.
How can I apply for a Tier 2 Visa Certificate of Sponsorship?
Once your CoS has been assigned to you, you have 3 months to make your Tier 2 visa application. After this time, your certificate will expire, and your employer will need to issue a new one.
Besides, during these 3 months, you cannot be assigned any additional CoS by another employer.
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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 Tier 2 or a Tier 5 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 Tier 2 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.