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Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) are electronic records which must be assigned for each migrant worker you employ. Each CoS will have a unique reference number which enables an applicant worker to apply for a visa.

What are the main requirements for a Certificate of Sponsorship?

In order to obtain a Certificate of Sponsorship from the Home Office, a sponsoring employer will need to complete a CoS form. The CoS form will ask for information such as the job role and whether it is a Shortage Occupation or has passed the Resident Labour Market Test.

There are two types of CoS, Unrestricted and Restricted. It is the sponsoring employer’s responsibility to determine the type of CoS that is needed for the migrant worker.

Unrestricted Certificates of Sponsorship are available to individuals who are seeking to switch into the Tier 2 category from within the UK or extend their stay in the UK as a Tier 2 migrant, except those in the UK as the dependant of a Tier 4 Migrant. They are also available to those intending to fill a vacancy with a salary of at least £159,600.

Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship are for Tier 2 (General) skilled workers who are currently abroad and who will be paid less than £159,600 per year (and are not in an inward investment post), as well as family members of Tier 4 migrants who are switching to a Tier 2 visa.

What else do I need to know about Certificates of Sponsorship?

When you submit a Sponsor Licence Application you will be asked to estimate the number of unrestricted sponsorship certificates that you will need. You will need to provide evidence that you need the number of certificates applied for. There is no limit to the number of unrestricted sponsorship certificates available.

There are a limited number of restricted sponsorship certificates available each month and these need to be applied for through the Sponsorship Management System (SMS). Applications are assessed on the first working day after the 10th day of each month (the ‘allocation date’) using a points system. If you apply after the 5th day of the month then your application will be held until the next month’s allocation date. Roles on the Shortage Occupation List are prioritised, with roles which require a PhD prioritised after this. Those who have completed a Resident Labour Market Test are then prioritised, with more points awarded the higher the salary.

A CoS does not guarantee that a visa will be granted. Once you have assigned the CoS, the applicant worker will need to submit a successful visa application under the Tier 2 (General), Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) or Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) categories of the points-based system.

It is your responsibility, as the employer, to ensure that the applicant worker is informed when a CoS is issued.

The Certificate of Sponsorship must include the same details as stated in the applicant worker’s passport.

A CoS can only be used once and will expire if it is not used by the applicant worker within 3 months of the employer assigning it to them.

If you assign a certificate of sponsorship to a worker with a Tier 2 (General) or Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) visa, you may also need to pay the Immigration Skills Charge.

How our immigration barristers can help

Our business immigration barristers regularly assist employers to apply for and assign Certificates of Sponsorship to their workers in compliance with the requirements of the Immigration Rules and Sponsor Guidance.

Whether you require assistance with applying for an Unrestricted or Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship, or assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship via the SMS, our immigration barristers can assist.

We pride ourselves on being approachable and proactive in understanding and meeting our business clients’ needs. We are a highly driven team, dedicated to providing clear and reliable immigration advice directly to employers as part of a professional and friendly service.

We can also assist with

  • Creating, Assigning and Viewing Unrestricted Certificates of Sponsorship

    Your unrestricted CoS allocation will be added to your SMS account, and you will have 12 months from the beginning of your licence to assign the CoS. After that time, any unassigned CoS will expire.

    Our immigration barristers regularly assist employers to prepare and assign unrestricted Tier 2 or Tier 5 CoS to prospective employees via the Sponsor Management System (SMS).

  • Applying for and Assigning Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship

    Our immigration barristers regularly assisted employers to apply for and assign restricted certificate of sponsorship.

    We can apply for a restricted CoS using your SMS account. An application for a restricted CoS should only be made if you intend to assign it no more than 3 months after the allocation date appropriate to your application.

    If your application is successful, the restricted CoS will be allocated to your SMS account on the allocation date. We can then assign it to the prospective employee. If it is not assigned after 3 months, it will be removed from your account.

  • Renewing allocations and applying for additional CoS

    Any Certificates of Sponsorship that remain unused at the end of your CoS year will be removed from your SMS account. At the end of each CoS year, our immigration barristers can apply for a further allocation for the next CoS year, using the SMS.

    If, part way through your CoS year, you think that you will not have enough CoS to last until the end of your CoS year, our immigration barristers can apply for more using the SMS.


To arrange an initial consultation meeting with one of our immigration barristers, contact our business immigration team on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form.



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