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How to successfully apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)

This blog gives an overview of CoS’ when to use a restricted CoS, when to use an unrestricted, how to apply for each type of CoS and common pitfalls.  

Starting your first application

When you apply for your Tier 2 licence for the first time, you are given the option during the application process, to apply for unrestricted CoS with the licence. You cannot apply for Restricted CoS with the licence. How many you apply for depends on your business needs, but you must justify your application for CoS stating how many you need and what jobs you envisage they will be used for.  

Do I need a restricted or unrestricted CoS?

Who needs which kind of CoS, mostly depends on whether the Applicant will be applying for Tier 2 from within the UK or outside the UK. As a broad brush approach, those that will be applying from within the UK are those that are currently on Tier 2 (General) already but are changing employers, those that are on Tier 4 and have completed a course of study and some other less common types where switching is allowed. These types of applicants will require unrestricted CoS’s and these can be applied for with the licence and therefore are ready to use once the licence application is granted. Unrestricted CoS’s can also be applied for annually, or if a business needs arise throughout the year, can be applied for at any time. Furthermore, if there is an urgent need for unrestricted CoS’, then this can be done quickly using the premium service and would be added within 5 working days of application (for a small fee!)

Usually, those from outside the UK require an unrestricted CoS. The process for apply for restricted CoS is different to that of an unrestricted CoS. Applications must be submitted before the 5th of each month and will be decided by the 11th of the month. The Applicant for a visa can then apply, once the CoS is issued.   

Please note there are exceptions to the above which gives a general position applying to most types of applicants.  

Common pitfalls: 

Just because a person is in the UK at the moment, doesn’t mean they can use an unrestricted CoS. A person in the UK on Tier 5 (youth mobility) for example, must apply from outside the UK. This is also the case for a person on a PBS dependent visa who wishes to become the main Tier 2 (General), applicant. They will, therefore, need a restricted CoS and to make their applications from outside the UK.

The rate listed in Appendix J of the Immigration Rules is not necessarily the minimum salary.  

This one really flummoxes people and no wonder. Appendix J of the Immigration Rules contains the relevant job descriptions and minimum salaries. These give a minimum for ‘New Entrant’ and Experienced’ workers. However, there is also an overall minimum. This is £30,000 for experienced workers. The confusion lies in Appendix J; the minimum rate payable is often less than £30,000 for experienced workers. Employers are often unaware, understandably, that the minimum rate on Appendix J is not, therefore, the actual minimum rate. 


Failure to properly carry out the Resident Labour Market Test. There are quite specific requirements for carrying out the Resident Labour Market Test. One of these is that you must retain screenshots or PDF’s confirming posting date and closing date of advertisements. Failure to produce these if asked will mean that your CoS application will be refused. It is also likely to attract unwanted attention from the Home Office in respect of your licence, as it will be clear that duties are not being properly exercised.   

If you feel uncertain about your CoS call our offices at 020 7118 4546 or email at:

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