Certificate of Sponsorship

A UK-based company must apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship if they wish to hire an employee from outside of the country. This guide explains everything you need to know about the types of certificates, the application process, and the Sponsor Management System (SMS).

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What you should know about the Certificate of Sponsorship

A Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is a virtual document that is issued by a UK-based employer to an employee who has been hired from a country other than the UK or Ireland.

The category of work visas that require the CoS are those on T2 Skilled Worker Visa or T5 Temporary Worker Visas. When the certificate has been issued, it can be used by the employee to submit as part of their visa application.

In order to be eligible to issue a CoS, an employer must hold a valid Sponsor Licence. This is a complex system and companies must be aware of the obligations involved in applying for and holding a Sponsor Licence.

An employer should only apply for a CoS when a job offer has been formally made. There are specific forms of evidence and documentation that are required as part of the submission process.

It is important that all the information provided matches with the information an employer has given as part of their Sponsor Licence.

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Who needs a Certificate of Sponsorship?

A Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is required by a worker who has accepted a formal job offer from a UK-based company. The company that issues this certificate must be in compliance with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) policies and hold a Sponsor Licence.

The CoS can be created through the Sponsor Management System (SMS) which a company may access when their licence is granted.

This certificate can be issued only by an approved person within the company who has access to the SMS at the appropriate level.

A CoS is valid for 90 days from the date of issue. The worker must apply for their visa within 90 days to ensure that the certificate does not expire.

However, workers should not apply for visas three months in advance of the job start date.

Type of Certificate of Sponsorship

In the previous system, there were unrestricted and restricted Certificates of Sponsorship. This was to keep the number of applications to a certain level at an annual cap.

However, changes to the immigration rules in December 2020 meant that a number of new changes were introduced.

The two types are ‘defined’ Certificates of Sponsorship and ‘undefined’ Certificates of Sponsorship. For defined certificates, the employer should apply through the SMS. When these certificates have been approved by UKVI, the documents will be available to access on the SMS.

Undefined certificates are used to employ people already living in the UK who want to move to a T2 visa Skilled Worker visa (if they are earning over £159,600). When an employer applies for a CoS, they should submit an estimate of the number of undefined certificates needed for the first year.

Applications for Certificates of Sponsorship are usually approved within one working day, but may take longer if further information is deemed necessary.

How to apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship

The system of applying for the CoS involves an online application form and the submission of relevant supporting documents.

Companies are required to provide evidence of four specific documents to evidence the company’s status as a trading entity in the UK. A supporting letter should also be submitted to provide the UKVI caseworker with background information on the applicant.

How to issue

Once the CoS has been granted by UKVI, an electronic document will be generated and will appear on the Sponsorship Management System (SMS).

The employee can then use this certificate as part of their visa application.

Sponsor Management System (SMS)

The SMS is an important tool used by your business to manage the licences of workers sourced from outside the UK.

The approved personnel in your company whose role is to manage the system should be sure to update the system when necessary. The SMS should be used to record periods of unauthorised absence from work or any changes to the employee’s immigration status.

Obtaining a CoS is completed through the SMS by submitting an application for the overseas employee. This can then be provided to the employee directly.

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Costs and waiting time for the Certificate of Sponsorship

Costs

If you are issuing a CoS for a Worker, the cost of the certificate is £199. For a Temporary Worker, the cost of the certificate is £21.

In some cases, a priority service may be available to receive a quicker decision, at an additional cost of £200.

Waiting time

In most cases, there will be a standard processing time for Certificates of Sponsorship of one working day. If the Home Office requires further information or your application is incomplete, your waiting time may be longer.

It may be the case that the Home Office performs a compliance visit to ensure that your organisation is remaining compliant.

How Newcastle Immigration Lawyers can help you

Many businesses need support with their Certificate of Sponsorship. At Newcastle Immigration Lawyers, our team of qualified lawyers are experienced in all areas of immigration law.

We have supported many businesses with their Sponsor Licence and Certificate of Sponsorship. If you need support with managing your responsibilities, we provide comprehensive support and advice to make the process as straightforward as possible.

Some of the services we provide include:

  • Assessing your business’s eligibility to obtain a Sponsor Licence and Certificate of Sponsorship
  • Ensuring that your business meets all Home Office requirements
  • Ensuring that you have the required documents that will be needed to submit your licence application
  • Liaising with the Home Office on your behalf throughout the application process
  • Preparing you for a Home Office inspection
  • Completing the Sponsor Licence application to the highest standards before submission
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Frequently Asked Questions

A Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is an electronic document issued by a sponsor to an employee that outlines the conditions of their stay and the nature of their employment. The employer must hold a valid Sponsor Licence that allows them to hire overseas workers.

The overseas employee needs a CoS to submit as part of their work visa application.

An employer issues the CoS to an overseas employee who has been formally offered a job at that company. The employer submits the request to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) through their sponsorship management system (SMS).

A Certificate of Sponsorship for a Worker costs £199, while a CoS for a Temporary Worker costs £21.