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What is a Certificate of Sponsorship?

A Certificate of Sponsorship (‘CoS’) is an electronic record which must be assigned for each migrant worker you employ. Each Certificate of Sponsorship 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 migrant’s personal information, contact details, work address(es) in the UK, job description, hours, salary, and start and end date of employment. The Certificate of Sponsorship must include the same details as stated in the applicant worker’s passport.

There are two types of CoS: Defined Certificates and Undefined Certificates. It is the sponsoring employer’s responsibility to determine which type of CoS is needed for the migrant worker. 

Undefined Certificates of Sponsorship are available to individuals who are seeking to switch into the Skilled Worker category from within the UK or extend their stay in the UK as a Tier 2 (General) / Skilled Worker migrant. They are also for those applying on the Intra-Company, T5 or T2 routes. If you have an Undefined CoS available, it can be assigned immediately to a migrant applying from within the UK. If you do not have one available, you will need to make an allocation request to the Home Office, which can take up to 18 weeks to process with the possibility of speeding this up by using a priority change of circumstances request.

Defined Certificates of Sponsorship are for Skilled Workers who are currently abroad. You must apply for a Defined CoS for an individual worker through the sponsorship management system (SMS). Applications are usually approved within one working day, but may take longer if UKVI needs to carry out further checks or requests further information. Once a Defined CoS has been approved, you can then assign it to the migrant.

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

A CoS does not guarantee that a visa will be granted. Once you have assigned the CoS, the applicant worker will still need to submit a successful visa application under the Skilled Worker, Intra Company, T2 (Minister of Religion), T2 (Sportsperson), or T5 (Temporary Worker) categories of the points-based system.

How Many Certificates of Sponsorship Do We Need?

Undefined Certificates of Sponsorship 

There is no limit to the number of Undefined sponsorship certificates available.

When you submit a Sponsor Licence Application you will be asked to estimate the number of Undefined Certificates of Sponsorship that you will need in the first year. You will need to provide evidence that you need the number of certificates applied for, and give the requisite details and documents for the role(s) and migrant(s).

Each year you can renew your annual allocation or make an in-year allocation request if you require further Undefined Certificates of Sponsorship. You will need to consider whether you need a CoS for a person who needs to extend their permission stay in the UK, or if you have an employee in a different category (such as Tier 4 Student or T5 Youth Mobility Scheme) who will be switching into Skilled Worker, or an EEA national who is not applying for pre-settled or settled status. You will not need to factor in the calculation any potential migrants who you wish to sponsor who will be applying overseas, as they will require a Defined Certificate of Sponsorship and a different process applies, as detailed below.

Defined Certificates of Sponsorship

For Defined Certificates of Sponsorship, there is no longer a limit on the number available, and you are no longer required to apply on the first working day after the 5th day of each month. You can apply for the CoS at any time for the individual migrant worker who requires it. 

When requesting a CoS allocation, whether this is a Defined or an Undefined CoS, you should include details of the roles you wish to fill. For an Undefined CoS allocation request, you should provide details of the migrant, if known, and detail how the migrant was identified for the role. 

How Much Does a Certificate of Sponsorship Cost??

When you assign a Certificate of Sponsorship you will ordinarily need to pay a fee:

  • £199 for a Worker
  • £21 for a Temporary Worker

For citizens of the following countries, however, Certificates of Sponsorship are free: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, and Turkey.

If you assign a Certificate of Sponsorship to a worker applying as a Skilled Worker or Intra Company Transfer Migrant, you may also need to pay the Immigration Skills Charge.

Contact Our Business Immigration Barristers 

For assistance with applying for a Certificate of Sponsorship, contact our immigration barristers and lawyers in London on 0203 617 9173 or via our enquiry form below.

This article was co-written by Zoe Bantleman and Georgina Griggs.


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