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Certificate of Sponsorship

Our professional immigration lawyers can help you with any information you need on the certificate of sponsorship.

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    Allocations for a Certificate of Sponsorship

    Certificate of Sponsorship (COS) allocations refer to the number of COS that an employer with a Sponsorship Licence is permitted to assign to foreign workers. These allocations are subject to specific rules and limits depending on the type of Sponsorship Licence and the employer’s needs.

    Skilled Worker Sponsorship

    Under the Skilled Worker Sponsorship category, employers are allocated a certain number of COS, which is determined by their specific circumstances, including size and history of employing foreign workers. These COS are used to sponsor skilled workers from outside the UK who are coming to fill specific job roles.

    Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) Sponsorship

    Employers with an ICT Sponsorship Licence are allocated COS to sponsor employees transferring to the UK from a branch or subsidiary of the same company overseas. The number of COS allocated may vary based on the type of ICT route (e.g., Long-term or Short-term).

    Temporary Worker Sponsorship

    For employers seeking to sponsor temporary workers in various sectors like hospitality, agriculture, or creative arts, COS allocations depend on the specific scheme within the Temporary Worker category.

    Other Sponsorship Categories

    Some employers may have Sponsorship Licences for other specific categories, such as Ministers of Religion, Religious Workers, or International Agreement Workers. The COS allocations for these categories will vary.

    Compliance and Record-keeping

    Employers must ensure they use their COS allocations responsibly and in compliance with immigration regulations. Proper record-keeping and adherence to sponsorship duties are essential to maintaining the Sponsorship Licence and access to COS allocations.


    Who is required to get a Certificate of Sponsorship?

    The CoS is necessary for all Tier 2 Visa applicants and most Tier 5 applicants.

    This does not include the Youth Mobility route, as an applicant’s country of origin will act as your sponsor for this type of visa.

    You will also not need to sponsor those in the UK on a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa to work for your company.

    How much does a Certificate of Sponsorship cost?

    The cost of the Certificate of Sponsorship will depend on what type you are applying for. Currently, the Tier 2 CoS costs £199 and the Tier 5 CoS costs £21.

    You may also have to pay the ‘immigration skills charge’ if you are employing someone via the Tier 2 General or Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer route.

    Assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship

    Assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship (COS) typically involves the following steps:

    Check Eligibility

    Ensure that both your organisation and the foreign worker meet the eligibility criteria for the specific visa category. This includes verifying that the worker’s role matches the job description provided in the COS.

    Create a COS

    Generate a Certificate of Sponsorship for the foreign worker through the Sponsorship Management System (SMS), an online tool provided by the UK Home Office. You will need to input relevant details, such as the worker’s personal information, job details, and the duration of sponsorship.

    Assign COS to Worker

    After creating the COS, assign it to the intended worker. This involves providing them with a unique COS reference number, which they will need for their visa application.

    Inform the Worker

    Make sure the worker is aware that they have been assigned a COS and provide them with all the necessary information they need to apply for a visa, including the COS reference number.

    Retain Records

    Maintain accurate records of the COS assignment and all associated documents. You may need to provide evidence of compliance with sponsorship duties during Home Office audits.

    Monitoring and Reporting

    Continue to monitor the worker’s compliance with visa conditions and report any significant changes or issues to the Home Office as required.


    What is a Certificate of Sponsorship?

    A Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is necessary for migrant workers who are applying for their Skilled Worker Visa or Temporary Worker Visa. As a UK employer, you will need to hold a valid Sponsorship Licence to apply for the Certificate of Sponsorship for each employee you bring over.

    The CoS must be applied for once the job offer has been made and includes detailed information on what your prospective employee will be doing. You must include information on their job role and expected salary on the application. If there is a discrepancy between the CoS and their actual job role, you may have your Sponsor Licence suspended.

    The government issues two types of Certificate of Sponsorship – Restricted and Unrestricted. The Restricted CoS has a limit of 20,700 each year so applications must be done correctly the first time to ensure you are able to employ your migrant worker.

    How can IAS help?

    Our highly-qualified immigration consultants can help you apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship. We offer services to help with applying for a Sponsor Licence, as well as consultancy services to make sure your sponsor duties are followed. To find out more about our services, or for advice on your circumstances, contact us today by calling 0333 363 8577 or make an enquiry online. We have offices in LondonManchester, and Birmingham, as well as in many other locations. We look forward to speaking with you.

    Please see our FAQs below for more information.

    How to Apply for a Sponsorship licence

    To apply for a Sponsorship Licence in the UK, follow these general steps:

    Check Eligibility

    Ensure your organisation meets the eligibility criteria. This typically includes having a legitimate and active business or organisation in the UK.

    Choose the Type of Sponsorship Licence

    Determine the type of licence you need based on the category of workers you plan to sponsor. Common categories include Skilled Worker, Intra-Company Transfer, Temporary Worker, and more.

    Appoint Key Personnel

    Identify individuals within your organisation who will serve as Key Personnel responsible for managing the sponsorship process. This typically includes Authorising Officers, Key Contact, and Level 1 User(s). They must be eligible and meet specific requirements.

    Register on the Sponsorship Management System (SMS):

    Create an account on the Sponsorship Management System (SMS), an online portal provided by the UK Home Office for managing sponsorship. Complete the registration process, which includes providing details about your organisation and the Key Personnel.

    Complete the Application Form:

    Fill out the online Sponsor Licence application form on the SMS. Provide detailed information about your organisation, its activities, and the type of workers you intend to sponsor.

    Pay the Application Fee

    Pay the required application fee, which varies depending on the size and type of your organisation. Payment is typically done online through the SMS.

    Submit Supporting Documents

    Upload all necessary supporting documents, such as financial statements, business bank statements, and any other documents requested by the Home Office.

    Wait for a Decision

    The Home Office will review your application and may conduct a compliance visit to assess your organisation’s readiness to sponsor workers. This visit could be in-person or virtual.

    Receive the Sponsorship Licence

    If your application is approved, you will receive a Sponsorship Licence from the Home Office. This licence will specify the category and number of Certificates of Sponsorship (COS) you are allowed to assign.

    Manage and Comply

    Use the SMS to manage your sponsorship duties, including assigning COS to workers, reporting changes, and maintaining records. Ensure compliance with all immigration regulations.

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              Frequently Asked Questions

              For a UK business looking to employ foreign workers, we have a range of corporate immigration services. To help you receive your Certificate of Sponsorship, we will:

              • Assess the role and individual you intend to hire to determine which type of CoS is appropriate;
              • Check all the details of your employee to ensure that they are meeting immigration requirements;
              • Check that the role they will fill is either on the UK Occupation Shortage List or that it has passed the UK Labour Market Test;
              • Support your company’s use of the Online Management System;
              • Make sure you are carrying out your sponsorship duties correctly.

              For more advice about your company’s circumstances, get in touch now on 0333 363 8577 or make an enquiry online to speak with an immigration lawyer.

              The time it takes to obtain a Certificate of Sponsorship (COS) can vary depending on several factors, including the specific visa category, the employer’s readiness, and the Home Office’s processing times.

              However, applicants can expect a decision within one working day.

              Individuals must ask their sponsor to cancel their sponsor licence for them either by letter or email, and the sponsor must cancel their licence within 5 working days.

              The Sponsorship Management System (SMS) is an online platform provided by the UK Home Office for organizations and employers with a Sponsorship Licence. It is used for managing various aspects of the sponsorship process for foreign workers coming to the UK.

              Employers can use the SMS to create and manage COS for foreign workers they wish to sponsor. This includes generating new COS, assigning them to workers, and maintaining records of all COS issued.