- The UK Certificate of Sponsorship: An Overview
- The Cost of a UK Certificate of Sponsorship
- Sponsor Licence Fees
- Immigration Skills Charge
- Premium Service for Employers
- Fees Payable by the Sponsored Worker
- Who is Eligible to Issue a Certificate of Sponsorship?
- Assigning Certificates of Sponsorship
- Assigning a CoS to a UK Expansion Worker
- Checking if the Worker Needs an ATAS Certificate
- What Happens When You Assign a CoS?
- What If I Made Errors on an Assigned CoS?
- What Happens if the Wrong CoS is Assigned?
- How Can IAS Help You?
The UK Certificate of Sponsorship: An Overview
A Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is an electronic document that approved sponsors must issue to a foreign worker they wish to hire. The CoS must be assigned to a worker before they apply for a visa under a relevant worker route.
Applicants cannot apply for a UK work visa without a Certificate of Sponsorship, as they will be required to provide the reference number of their assigned CoS during the visa application process.
The Certificate of Sponsorship confirms that an employee wishes to sponsor a worker and they are satisfied that the worker’s skills meet the relevant immigration requirements for the route they are applying on.
However, a CoS does not guarantee that a migrant worker will be granted entry clearance, permission to enter, or permission to stay. As such, visa applicants must ensure that they meet the requirements for the route under which they are applying.
The Cost of a UK Certificate of Sponsorship
Sponsors must pay a fee for each Certificate of Sponsorship they assign to a migrant worker. The exact amount you will pay will depend on the type of sponsor licence you hold.
Be sure to pay the correct fee, as the Home Office may cancel your Certificate of Sponsorship if you do not.
Here’s the cost of assigning a CoS:
|Type of licence||Cost per certificate assigned|
|Worker (except workers on the International Sportsperson visa)||£199|
|International Sportsperson – where the certificate of sponsorship is assigned for more than 12 months||£199|
|International Sportsperson – where the certificate of sponsorship is assigned for 12 months or less||£21|
Sponsor Licence Fees
Certificates of Sponsorship are assigned through the online Sponsorship Management System (SMS). However, before you can access the SMS to assign certificates, you will be required to pay a sponsor licence application fee.
Here is the cost of sponsor licence applications in the UK:
|Type of License||Small or charitable sponsor||Medium or large sponsor|
|Worker and Temporary Worker||£536||£1,476|
|Add a Worker licence to an existing Temporary Worker licence||Free||£940|
|Add a Temporary Worker licence to an existing Worker licence||Free||Free|
Immigration Skills Charge
If you assign a Certificate of Sponsorship to a worker on the Skilled Worker or Senior or Specialist Worker route, you might have to pay an additional fee called the ‘immigration skills charge.’ Some occupations on the Skilled Worker visa route do not attract this charge.
You must pay the immigration skills charge if your sponsored employee is applying for a visa from:
- Outside the UK to work in the UK for six months or more
- Inside the UK for any length of time.
The immigration skills charge is paid annually and the fee you will pay will depend on your organisation’s size and how long the employee will work for you.
Here is how much it costs:
|Period||Small or charitable sponsors||Medium or large sponsors|
|First 12 months||£364||£1,000|
|Each additional 6 months||£182||£500|
The Home Office offers premium customer service for licenced sponsors under the Worker and Temporary Worker route. This service provides employers with tailored support for their immigration needs, including issues with Certificates of sponsorship.
The premium service costs £25,000 annually for medium or large organisations and £8,000 annually for small or charitable sponsors.
Visa Application Fee
An applicant’s visa application fee will depend on the route they are applying under, whether they are applying from within the UK or overseas, and the duration of their stay.
The application fees for UK work visas range from £479 to over £1,600. However, applicants on the shortage occupation list, such as those applying for the Health and Care visa, will pay a reduced fee.
Immigration Health Surcharge
Some visa applicants might be required to pay an immigration health surcharge fee to enable them to access the NHS services. This payment is mandatory whether or not the visa applicant has private medical insurance.
The immigration health surcharge fee differs depending on the visa type and the applicant’s duration of stay, but it typically ranges from £235 to £624.
The Home Office also offer visa applicants priority and super-priority services to help fast-track their applications. Some of these services include status checks, advice, and courier services.
The cost of these services varies depending on where an applicant is applying, and they can be from £0.69 to £959.
Who is Eligible to Issue a Certificate of Sponsorship?
To be eligible to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship, you must hold a valid sponsor licence. A sponsor licence indicates that you have the ability to hire foreign workers and comply with the duties of a sponsor.
If you apply for a sponsor licence and your application is approved, you will receive a licence rating and your business will be listed in the register of sponsors. You will then be able to assign Certificates of Sponsorship from your Sponsorship Management System (SMS).
Defined certificates apply if you need to assign a CoS to a skilled worker outside the UK.
Applications for defined certificates are usually approved within one working day. However, it may take longer if the UKVI needs to conduct further checks on the information provided on the application.
Defined certificates will appear in your SMS once approved. You can then assign them to the sponsored workers.
Undefined certificates are required to employ skilled workers already in the UK and applicants from other visa categories.
During your sponsor licence application, you will be required to estimate and request the number of undefined certificates you will need in the first year. If approved, the Home Office will allocate your certificates to your SMS.
If you exhaust your allocation before the one-year period ends, you can apply for additional certificates through the SMS.
Assigning a CoS to a UK Expansion Worker
If you are sponsoring a migrant worker on the UK Expansion Worker route, you will receive a provisional licence rating after your sponsor licence is approved.
With a provisional rating, you can only assign one Certificate of Sponsorship, which must be assigned to the authorising officer to enable them to enter the UK.
Once their visa has been approved, you can upgrade your licence to an A-rating and request four additional CoS from the Sponsorship Management System.
Checking if the Worker Needs an ATAS Certificate
When applying for a Certificate of Sponsorship, you will be required to confirm whether or not the sponsored worker requires an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate.
If the worker doesn’t require an ATAS certificate, you can add a note to the job description of the CoS or use the ‘sponsor’s note’ field after assigning the CoS and mention why the worker doesn’t need one.
However, if the worker requires an ATAS certificate, they must get one. Otherwise, their visa application may be refused, and you may lose your sponsor licence.
What Happens When You Assign a CoS?
When you assign a Certificate of Sponsorship to a worker, they must use it to apply for their visa within three months. However, the worker cannot apply for their visa more than three months before the start date of the job listed on the CoS.
You should know that you cannot transfer or reassign a Certificate of Sponsorship to another individual. Reassigning a CoS is considered a breach of your sponsorship duties, for which the Home Office might take enforcement action.
What If I Made Errors on an Assigned CoS?
Sometimes, sponsors discover that they made errors in the details entered in the SMS after already assigning the Certificate of Sponsorship.
If it is a minor error, such as a misspelt name, you can use the ‘sponsor note’ field to explain the situation, stating the amends you need to make.
For significant errors, such as if you gave the wrong SOC code, you must cancel the CoS and assign a new one.
What Happens if the Wrong CoS is Assigned?
Assigning the wrong type of Certificate of Sponsorship has a significant impact. For instance, if you assign an undefined CoS to a migrant worker that requires a defined one, the Home Office might revoke your sponsor licence.
It’s important to understand the difference between the defined and undefined CoS and only assign the right one to a sponsored worker.
How can IAS Help
If you are a UK-based employer looking to hire foreign nationals, our lawyers at IAS can help you obtain your Certificates of Sponsorship.
We will help you determine the appropriate CoS for the role in which you are hiring, explain all the fees involved, support your use of the online Sponsorship Management System, and ensure you comply with your sponsor duties.
For more information on Certificates of Sponsorship and sponsor licences, call us on 0333 305 9375, or contact us online today.
Last modified on January 6th, 2023 at 5:16 pm
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