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CoS Allocation: Everything You Must Know

A Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is a document that allows sponsors (employers) to hire foreign workers. The Home Office requires that every sponsor get an annual allocation of Certificates of Sponsorship if the employer plans to hire foreign workers from inside the UK.

For more information on CoS allocation and to get help and assistance with your situation, call our friendly advisers at 0333 305 9375. We’re here to help you in person, via the phone, or online.


What is Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) Allocation?

A Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is a document that allows a UK employer to sponsor a non-UK migrant worker to work in the UK. It’s issued by the Home Office and allocated according to certain criteria.

The Home Office will ask you to provide an estimate of the number of Undefined CoS you may wish to assign in your first year as a sponsor when you apply for a valid sponsor licence. You should give a good reason for your request and be ready to provide more information if UKVI asks for it.

CoS allocation is necessary because there are restrictions on the number of non-UK employees that can be employed by an employer at any given time.

As an employer, you will need to assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from your annual allocation of Undefined Certificates of Sponsorship when hiring someone who requires one.

It is important to note that you can’t have an annual allocation of a Defined Certificate of Sponsorship. For Defined CoS, there’s a separate process which you will have to follow each time you need a CoS.

Deciding your Annual CoS Allocations

Once you get your licence approved by the UKVI, they’ll send you an allocation of certificates of sponsorship for the year. The annual allocation will be determined by several factors, including:

  • what agencies you will work with to hire workers, and whether they have a history of immigration abuses
  • your previous record with the UKVI, as well as the current sponsorship arrangements
  • the Tier 2 and Tier 5 visa arrangements that are in place now or the work permit arrangements that were in place before these
  • the number of employees working at your business
  • the type of business you run
  • the extent of your business dealings
  • the number of years you have been trading
  • if you are applying under the UK Expansion Worker category, whether or not your Authorising Officer is based in the United Kingdom depends on where your sponsor is based and their nationality

If your annual allocation is less than the amount you requested, or if your allocation is set to zero, this could be for the following reasons:

  • you’ve been a non-complier in the past
  • you cannot justify your request for the number of CoS that you require
  • due to your current circumstances, UKVI does not consider you to be credible
  • due to a lack of evidence, UKVI does not find that your business’s offer of work is genuine or that the salary you have offered meets its requirements for the visa category
  • you are unsure exactly when you may need to recruit workers in the future

You can also have your Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) allocation reduced if you downsize, or if UKVI believes that you pose a threat to immigration control, for example, if after your original CoS allocation has been decided, UKVI takes compliance action against you.

Your CoS Year

Once UKVI has decided on your Undefined CoS allocation, they will transfer them to your Sponsorship management system (SMS) account. You will then have up to 12 months to use the allocated CoS. This is known as your ‘allocation year’ or ‘CoS year’.

Your allocation year will depend on whether you held a valid Tier 2 General or Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer visa on 30 November 2020 and if this was converted into a Skilled Worker or Intra-Company route on 1 December 2020.

Your CoS year will be based on three scenarios, which are:

  1. Your allocation renewal has been automated, starting on 6 April and ending on 5 April of the following year
  2. Your renewal request has not been automated, your allocation will be renewed 12 months from the date your request was granted in 2021, and in subsequent years, 12 months from the date your renewal request is granted
  3. In all other cases, 12 months from the date your licence was granted and, in subsequent years, 12 months from the date you request an allocation renewal

You can view your current CoS allocation by logging into your SMS account and clicking on Licence summary. The Licence summary screen is only available to Level 1 users.

In the Licence summary, you will find information about how many CoS you have left to assign for the allocation year. You can see your limit of CoS and how many you have assigned since the allocation year began. The expiry date of the allocation year will also be shown under each route.

Note that any unused CoS by the end of your CoS year will be removed from your SMS account. You cannot use any remaining CoS in subsequent CoS years.

Assign CoS from Allocations using Sponsor Management System

When assigning a CoS, be sure to choose the correct CoS based on the application. If you assign an incorrect CoS, UKVI can revoke your licence.

To create and assign a CoS using the sponsorship management system, follow these steps:

  • Sign in to your SMS account as either a Level 1 or Level 2 user
  • In the Workers screen, select Create and Assign
  • Select Create a new certificate
  • Enter employee details and click Save
  • Click Assign
  • Confirm the entered details
  • Click Assign CoS
  • Complete the CoS fee and immigration skills charge

Once the CoS has been approved, you will see a unique reference number on your screen.

You will need to pay a fee for each certificate of sponsorship. The cost of a Skilled Worker visa licence is £199, while the cost of a Temporary Workers licence is £21.

Get in touch with our expert immigration lawyers to receive assistance on CoS Allocation.

Request to Increase the CoS Allocation

If you think your current CoS allocation will run out before the end of the year, or if it was previously set to zero, you can log in to your sponsor management system account and submit a request for an increased CoS allocation. You must explain why you need an increased CoS allocation, and the Home Office may ask you to provide further information.

To request an increased CoS allocation via your SMS system, follow these steps:

  • In the Licence summary, applications and services screen, click on Request CoS/CAS allocation increase
  • From the Request, additional CoS or CAS screen, click on Add a request to the route you need increased allocation
  • Enter the number of CoS you need, along with a detailed explanation of why you need them
  • Select Save
  • Ensure all the details are correct and select Submit

You can request an increase to more than one of your allocations on the same request. This function can be used as many times as you need during the allocation year.

Renewing your Annual CoS Allocation

Each year, during the validity period of your licence, you can apply for a further allocation of CoS for the upcoming year using your SMS account. This is an annual process known as a ‘follow-on’ allocation.

Some sponsors are set up to receive allocations automatically renewed every year. You can check your SMS account 3 months before the expiration of your CoS year in order to see if auto-renewal will be applied to your account.

If your account shows ‘automatic renewal’, you don’t need to submit a renewal request. UKVI will simply give you another allocation of CoS equal to the number you used in the previous year. If you do not have an automatic renewal set up, you must submit a manual request three months prior to the end of your CoS year.

Here’s how to request a renewal of your annual allocation from your SMS account:

  • In the Licence summary, applications and services screen, click on Request renewal of annual CoS/CAS allocations
  • Click on Add a request for the route you wish to apply for the renewal
  • Enter the number of CoS you wish to request with a detailed explanation of your allocation renewal request
  • Select Save and Submit to send your request

If you need to make changes to the number of certificates requested or the reasons you gave, click Edit next to the request you wish to amend. You can only make changes to your request only when it has been submitted and is still outstanding.

If you do not renew your allocation before its expiration date, the allocation will be cancelled. When your allocation has expired, you can request to renew it. However, you will not be able to assign a Certificate of Sponsorship until your application has been approved by the UK Visa and Immigration department.

How can IAS Help

At IAS, we are proud to be able to help with all of your sponsor licence needs. Whether you’re looking for a sponsor licence or Certificate of Sponsorship for an employee, we can assist!

The CoS application process can be lengthy, and complex. IAS can help you with this process by providing you with a fully tailored service to ensure that your CoS application is successful.

We’ll handle the entire process of sponsoring skilled workers from creating the paperwork to obtaining and assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship. In addition, we will help you with any questions you have about eligibility criteria and sponsorship rules.

To learn more about how IAS can assist you with your certificate of sponsorships applications or any other sponsorship guidance, call our friendly team of advisors at 0333 305 9375. We’re here to help you in person, via the phone, or online.

We offer immigration advice sessions as face to face appointments at all of our UK offices, or via the phone.

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