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How long does it take to get a certificate of sponsorship in the UK?

A certificate of sponsorship is an essential supporting document for many UK work visa routes. These digital documents are issued and allocated to migrant workers by authorised UK companies with a valid sponsor licence.

For more information on how IAS can help you, call our friendly team of advisors today on 0333 305 9375.

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How quick can I get a Certificate of sponsorship?

Being issued with a valid certificate of sponsorship is an essential part of the visa application process for a skilled worker visa, which along with many other UK work visas, require sponsorship. Applicants must be able to prove to the Home Office that they have a job offer from an approved UK employer before they can be granted their visa.

Typically, it can take approximately one working day of processing time for a certificate of sponsorship to be approved. Once approved, the certificate will appear in the employer’s SMS account ready to be issued to the designated skilled worker.

In order to issue a certificate of sponsorship, the employer must be in possession of a sponsor licence, which allows the company to legally recruit skilled migrant workers after they have completed a visa application.

For further information on how IAS can help with your visa or sponsor licence query, call our friendly team today on  0333 305 9375 to discuss your matter in confidence.

How to issue a certificate of sponsorship

A certificate of sponsorship is a digital document rather than a physical document. In order to issue one, your company must hold a valid sponsor licence with access to an SMS account- the Sponsor Management System.

Your organisation should have a nominated level one or level two user who deals with requests for a new certificate of sponsorship. This person should upload details of the role that requires a sponsor along with a unique reference number and any other relevant information. The certificate should then be approved within one working day of submission to the SMS system, this processing time may increase during busier periods.

Once approved, the certificate of sponsorship, for defined certificates, should be available on SMS to issue to the relevant foreign workers. They will need to use the certificate of sponsorship to apply for their skilled worker visa within three months of it being issued, and no more than three months before their proposed start date.

As part of the sponsorship licence agreements, employers must provide a detailed job description and job title on the certificate of sponsorship document.

Defined vs Undefined certificates

Changes in immigration rules have resulted in a certificate of sponsorship being split into two separate categories- defined COS and Undefined COS. Before applying to the Home Office, you must provide a rough estimate of how many undefined certificates you plan on issuing in your first 12 months as a sponsor licence holder.

Defined COS

Formerly known as restricted certificates, a defined certificate of sponsorship is issued for those applying for a skilled worker visa from outside the UK. Once a sponsor licence has been granted to a company, they can use the SMS system to issue and allocate these types of certificates to skilled workers.

Undefined COS

Previously known as unrestricted certificates, an undefined certificate of sponsorship is to be issued for those applying for a skilled worker visa from inside the UK. This category of COS can also be used for those applying for the other UK work visa categories.

Do you need help issuing a certificate of sponsorship? Our lawyers can assist you.

Cost of issuing a certificate of sponsorship

Being granted a sponsor licence means you can now legally issue a certificate of sponsorship to a migrant worker, however, each certificate issued will be subject to a sponsorship cost. The fee is payable when the certificate of sponsorship is issued.

To allocate a certificate of sponsorship to a skilled worker the cost is £199 per document.

For those recruiting temporary overseas workers, the cost is £21 per certificate of sponsorship.

If, for example, the sponsor licence holder plan to pay the cost of living in the UK for your skilled worker and any other relevant fees, this must be made clear in the details of the COS allocation when the document is requested via the Sponsor Management System.

How to get a sponsor licence

The correct type of sponsor licence must be determined before you can be approved for a sponsor licence to issue certificates of sponsor. You will need one of the following:

Worker licence- to employ those coming to work in the UK on a more permanent basis. For instance, on a skilled worker visa, or, as a senior or specialist worker visa (intra company transfer).

Temporary worker licence- workers coming to the UK to work on a temporary basis, for example, on a T5 visa.

You can apply for both sponsor licence types by filling out a sponsor licence application form online and paying the specified sponsorship fee. As part of the sponsor licence application, you must demonstrate that you are a legitimate business with a genuine vacancy to employ a migrant worker.

As a prospective employee wishing to obtain a sponsorship licence, officials may request to visit your work premises for an inspection. As part of the application process, you must also be able to prove you have or will get, the relevant HR systems in place to manage sponsorship licence throughout your company and support your overseas workers.

If your licence application is approved, you can begin to sponsor skilled workers using your new sponsorship licence.

UK Visas and Immigration reserve the right to perform a compliance visit at your premises during your time as a licence holder.

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How can IAS help?

Immigration Advice Service can offer expert advice and in-depth knowledge on sponsorship services and the visa application process. We are here to support both UK employers and overseas workers with their sponsorship licence and visa application queries.

For more information on how IAS can help you with your sponsor licence applications or any other sponsorship guidance, call our friendly team of advisors today on  0333 305 9375 to get help from our expert immigration lawyers.

We can help you if you need help with a sponsor licence and COS.

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