The Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is an electronic document with a unique number that the employee uses to apply for a visa. Before an employer (sponsor) sponsors a foreign employee, he must assign him a sponsorship certificate. Assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship to an employee means that they have met the requirements for the specific visa route. Once the employee has been awarded a certificate of sponsorship, he or she can apply for the sponsorship visa.
The employee must use the sponsorship certificate within three months of issuance. However, the employee cannot apply more than three months before the start date of employment, as described in the CoS.
Who is required to obtain a certificate of sponsorship?
The CoS is required for all Tier 2 visa applicants and most Tier 5 visa applicants.
This does not include the youth mobility route, as the applicant’s country of origin will act as the sponsor for this type of visa.
You also will not need to sponsor those in the UK on a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa to work for your company.
How much does a sponsorship certificate cost?
The cost of the Certificate of Sponsorship will depend on the type you are applying for. Currently, the Level 2 CoS costs £199 and the Level 5 CoS costs £21.
You may also need to pay the ‘immigration skills fee’ if you are hiring someone via the Tier 2 General Transfer or Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer route.
Awarding of a certificate of sponsorship
Assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship (COS) typically involves the following steps:
Make sure both your organization and the foreign worker meet the eligibility criteria for the specific visa category. This includes verifying that the worker’s role matches the job description provided in the COS.
Create a COS
Generate a certificate of sponsorship for the foreign worker through the Sponsorship Management System (SMS), an online tool provided by the UK Home Office. You will need to enter relevant details, such as the worker’s personal information, job details and duration of the sponsorship.
Assign COS to the worker
After creating the COS, assign it to the intended worker. This involves providing them with a unique COS reference number, which they will need when applying for the visa.
Inform the worker
Make sure the worker is aware that they have been assigned a COS and provide them with all the information necessary to apply for the visa, including the COS reference number.
Maintain accurate records of COS assignment and all associated documents. You may need to provide evidence of compliance with sponsorship duties during Home Office audits.
Monitoring and reporting
Continue to monitor worker compliance with visa conditions and report any significant changes or issues to the Home Office, as required.
What is a Sponsorship Certificate?
A Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is required for migrant workers applying for the Skilled Worker Visa or Temporary Worker Visa. As a UK employer, you will need to hold a valid sponsorship license to apply for the certificate of sponsorship for each employee you bring on.
The CoS must be requested once the job offer has been made and includes detailed information about what the potential employee will do. You must include information about your job role and expected salary in your application. If there is a discrepancy between the CoS and their actual job role, your Sponsor License may be suspended.
The government issues two types of certificate of sponsorship: limited and unlimited. The limited CoS is capped at 20,700 each year, so applications must be submitted correctly the first time to ensure you can hire your migrant worker.
Who needs a certificate of sponsorship?
Anyone applying to work in the UK on a work visa needs a certificate of sponsorship to enter or stay. Once the worker is assigned the CoS reference number, you can apply for the visa. To be sponsored, a worker must be suitable for the role for which they are applying.
Some groups do not need to be sponsored, such as:
- Irish citizens.
- Those with settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.
- Those on indefinite leave can remain in the UK.
How to get a sponsorship certificate?
A sponsorship certificate is created via the Sponsor Management System (SMS). The sponsor who has a license and is a Level 1 or Level 2 user can assign a CoS. To obtain a sponsor license, the employer must:
Check if their business is eligible. An employer cannot have:
- Criminal convictions for immigration offenses or other specific crimes.
- A sponsor license canceled within the last year.
- Check if their work is suitable for sponsorship.
- Choose the type of license they want to request. There are two types of licenses:
- Worker’s license
- Temporary worker license
- Decide who will manage the sponsorship within the company.
- Types of Sponsorship Certificate
- There are two types of sponsorship certificates: defined and undefined.
Sponsorship certificates defined
Defined Certificates of Sponsorship are intended for workers applying from outside the UK. The employer must request this type of certificate through the Sponsorship Management System (SMS). They get access to SMS when they get their sponsor license.
Sponsorship certificates undefined
These types of CoS are intended for workers applying from within the UK. When the employer applies for the sponsor license, they are required to evaluate how many undefined certificates they will need for workers and temporary workers in the first year.
What is an annual CoS allocation?
When an employer applies for a sponsor license, he is required to specify the number of indefinite certificates he wishes to award in the first year for each route for which he requests the license.
The sponsor is required to submit an annual placement request for the following CoS year. Any certificate of sponsorship will be valid for one year.
Costs for the Certificate of Sponsorship
When the employer assigns a certificate of sponsorship to an employee, they need to pay a fee. The cost depends on the type of sponsor license the employer has.
Type of license Cost of certificate
- Worker £199
- Temporary Worker £21
- International Sportsperson- the CoS is assigned for more than 12 months £199
- International Sportsperson- the CoS is assigned for 12 months or less £21
How long does it take to get a sponsorship certificate?
It usually takes one business day for your certificate of sponsorship to be approved. However, it may take longer if the Home Office wants more information about the worker’s application. The approved certificates will appear in the employer’s SMS, after which he can assign them to his worker.