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Tier 2 Certificate of Sponsorship

Our immigration lawyers are experienced in advising sponsorship licence holders on applying for the correct type of certificate of sponsorship to meet their business needs and challenging the Home Office when they raise questions about the genuineness of the vacancy.

What is a certificate of sponsorship?

Also known as a CoS, is a virtual document managed by Sponsor Licence Holders on their Sponsor Licence.

The CoS contains all objective data to do with the position to employer seeks to fill, including the chosen SOC code, the job title, job description and salary on offer.

It is the way in which the Home Office can control how many non-EU workers a license holder can sponsor in any given year.

A sponsor would need to ‘assign’ a CoS to any non-EU worker they wish to hire, which the individual would then use to support their visa application which is dealt with direct on the Sponsor Licence.

There are two types of CoS – Unrestricted and Restricted.

Unrestricted certificates

These are called unrestricted certificates because you can get as many as your business needs. When you submit a request for a CoS, you will need to provide the Sponsor Licence Team the reasons why you need the number of certificates that you’ve asked for.

Restricted certificates

There are 20,700 CoSs available each year, divided into monthly allocations (this is detailed in the Sponsor Guidance) and are processed on the monthly basis.

These are used for:

• Tier 2 (General) workers who are applying from outside the UK and will be paid less than £159,600 a year and are not in an inward investment post

• family members (dependants) of Tier 4 migrants who are switching within the UK to a Tier 2 visa

You must apply for restricted certificates for these workers via the Sponsor Licence.

The deadline to submit these requests is the 5th of each month. These requests are considered on the first working day after 10th day of the month and the Sponsor Licence Team usually begin issuing decisions after 11th or 12th of each month. The team can ask a sponsor to provide further evidence in order to consider the CoS request, in which case they will set a deadline to submit the further evidence. If the evidence isn’t submitted by this date, the request will automatically be considered in the next month’s allocation.

Where does the CoS fit into the sponsorship process?

1. Resident Labour Market Test (“RLMT”)

Before a CoS can be assigned to a non-EU worker, the company would need to demonstrate that they couldn’t fill the role with a worker who is already in the UK. This assessment is called the RLMT.

This requires a sponsor to place at least 2 adverts for at least 28 days and ensure they comply with the guidance for the content of the advert and the advertising method (contained in the Tier 2 Sponsor Guidance).

Westkin can assist with project managing the RLMT and selection of SOC codes.
Not all vacancies require the RLMT to be carried, for example those who are in the UK with a Tier 4 Student Visa, or if the vacancy is on the Shortage Occupation List or the proposed migrant would be classified as a High Earner.

Our team at Westkin can advise on whether the RLMT needs to be carried out or whether you can rely on one of the exemptions to carry it out.

2. Sponsorship Licence

The company must attain a sponsorship licence in order to employ non-EU workers. This is an application has 2 parts to the process.

The first part is an online application that provides details of the company applying for the licence and the corporate structure, if they have more than one branch in the UK. When the online form is submitted, the application fee is also paid online.

The second part of the process is for the supporting documents to be submitted to the Sponsor Licence team within 5 days of the online form being submitted.

As part of our services, we will complete all necessary forms, prepare them for submission, advise you as to the most appropriate supporting documents, and guide you on submitting them before the deadline.

Just to give you an idea of the timescales involved, we estimate at the time of writing that it should take 2 – 8 weeks for the application to be processed by the Home Office. Please note the reason the processing times vary is that the Home Office may carry out a compliance visit before deciding the licence application.

3. Certificate of Sponsorship

After the licence has been approved, the company can deal with the relevant ‘restricted’ or ‘unrestricted’ Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to request and assign it to the proposed employee.

Please also note the CoS assigning fee and the government Immigration Skills Charge (“ISC”), is payable at this stage.

The Licence will work out how much you need to pay based on:

• the size of your organisation

• how long the worker will work for you, using the start and end dates on their sponsorship certificate


First 12 months

Small or charitable sponsors – £364

Medium or large sponsors – £1000

Each additional 6 months

Small or charitable sponsors – £182

Medium or large sponsors – £500

4. Tier 2 visa application

Once the CoS has been assigned, the prospective employee will then need to make the Tier 2 General Visa application. We will of course advise them and prepare the entire visa application.

As discussed, please find below the link to the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) Codes that are listed by the UKVI, please note that the job role that we select shall have to at minimum NQF Level 6 or above and this can be found at the Immigration Rules Appendix J Table 2: codes of practice for skilled work.

Certain SOC Codes will require the individual to obtain an overseas criminal record certificate from any country where they have resided for more than 12 months (excluding the UK) in the last 10 years. These are the Codes that involve working with vulnerable groups.

An example of the CoS allocation cycle

If a firm wishes to bring in 3 engineers from India, they will then need to advertise each vacancy in accordance with the Sponsor Guidance on carrying out the RLMT, if the positions don’t fall under one of the exemptions to determine whether there was anyone suitable in the UK who could fill the vacancy. If the company doesn’t identify a suitable resident worker, they can apply for a R CoS in the monthly allocation process.

When the Sponsor Licence Team approve the request for the R CoS, the company can assign it to each individual that want to hire.

Dangers of misusing the CoS that have been issued to you.

Companies must use the correct type of CoS to sponsor a non-EU worker. If a company uses an unrestricted CoS to try and sponsor a worker instead of a restricted CoS (or vice versa), or they raise concerns on whether you have a genuine vacancy to fill, this can lead to the Sponsor Licence Team to take action against you.

The team at Westkin can advise you on what remedial action to take if you believe you have assigned the incorrect CoS to a proposed worker or you have concerns about whether you can demonstrate the vacancy you want to fill is genuine.

Westkin services

The team at Westkin can advise on all aspects of sponsorship and minimise the risk of any errors occurring along the way that may delay your projected timescales for your new hire to start with you by your target start date.
If the Sponsor Licence team make a mistake at any stage, the team at Westkin can also advise you on how best to deal with that error and challenge it.

If you have any questions about certificates and CoS sponsorship or you are interested in hiring foreign worker please contact our leading teams today.

Westkin Associates

5th Floor, Maddox House,
1 Maddox Street
United Kingdom
0207 118 4546

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