What is a Certificate of Sponsorship?
The UK’s points-based immigration system requires that certain non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals have a valid UK Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) before they can apply for a visa to work or study. The CoS is a virtual document confirming that an employer or institution is willing to sponsor a worker or student and that she meets the necessary qualifications and requirements for the role or course of study.The CoS is assigned a unique reference number, which is then used by the non-EEA national to apply for a visa and it is valid for three months from the date it is issued.
Who can apply for a CoS?
Non-EEA national who wish to work or study in the UK must have a valid CoS before they can apply for a visa. This includes those who wish to work in the UK under the Tier 2 (General) category, as well as students who wish to study at an UK educational institution under the Tier 4 (Student) category.
How to Obtain a CoS
To obtain a CoS, an employer or educational institution must first be registered as a licensed sponsor with the UK Home Office. The process of becoming a sponsor includes an application and an assessment of the business or institution to ensure it meets the UK Home Office’s sponsorship requirements. Once they are registered, they can then issue a CoS to a non-EEA national who meets the necessary qualifications and requirements for the role or course of study.
The process of obtaining a CoS can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the worker or student, but generally, the employer or educational institution will need to provide certain information and documentation, such as the worker or student’s qualifications, their job offer or letter of acceptance, and proof of the employer or institution’s ability to support the candidate.
Cost of Registering as a Sponsor
The cost of registering as a sponsor is determined by the UK Home Office and varies depending on the type of sponsorship. For example, the fee for registering as a Tier 2 sponsor is £1,476 (£536 for small companies). It’s important to consider that being a registered sponsor also comes with an annual fee and an obligation to report to the UK Home Office on the sponsored worker or student.
Cost of assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship
The cost of a CoS is determined by the UK Home Office and varies depending on the type of visa being applied for. For example, the fee for a Tier 2 (General) CoS is £199 and the fee for a Tier 4 (Student) CoS is £464. Additionally, an employer or educational institution may also have to pay a fee for a restricted CoS which is subject to a monthly allocation by the UK Home Office.
Assigned and Unassigned CoS
An assigned CoS is a specific CoS that has been allocated to a named individual who will be using it to apply for a visa. An unassigned CoS is not allocated to a specific individual, but instead is held in the sponsor’s pool of available CoS.
The sponsor can then assign an unassigned CoS to an individual when they are ready to apply for a visa.
It’s important to note that the number of CoS available for allocation is limited and subject to a monthly allocation by the UK Home Office. This means that even if an employer or educational institution is a registered sponsor, they may not be able to obtain a CoS if the monthly allocation has been reached.
Defined and Undefined CoS
In the context of the UK visa system, a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is a crucial document that plays a significant role in the sponsorship process for skilled workers. There are two types of Certificates of Sponsorship: defined and undefined.
A Defined Certificate of Sponsorship should be used when an applicant is applying for a Skilled Worker visa and is making their application from outside the UK. This type of CoS is specifically intended for individuals seeking entry to the UK under the Skilled Worker visa route.
An Undefined Certificate of Sponsorship, on the other hand, should be used when an applicant is applying for a Skilled Worker visa from within the UK or any other type of visa that requires a CoS. This category encompasses situations where an individual is already in the UK and wishes to switch to a Skilled Worker visa or apply for a different visa category that necessitates a CoS.
Certificate of Sponsorship tier 2
The Tier 2 visa is for non-EEA nationals who have been offered a skilled job in the UK. It is a points-based visa, and applicants must score enough points to be eligible to apply. To score points, applicants must have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from a UK employer who is a licensed sponsor, a valid certificate of sponsorship reference number and pass the points-based assessment which is based on qualifications, salary, English language proficiency and availability of funds.
To apply for a Tier 2 visa, the non-EEA national must first have a valid job offer from a UK employer who is a licensed sponsor. The employer must then issue a CoS to the non-EEA national and provide the unique reference number to the non-EEA national. The non-EEA national can then use this reference number to apply for a Tier 2 visa.
The Tier 2 visa is initially valid for a maximum of five years, with the possibility of extension for another five years. After five years of continuous residence, the individual can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK.
The availability of Tier 2 visas is limited and subject to a monthly allocation by the UK Home Office. Additionally, the Tier 2 visa has a minimum salary threshold requirement, which is currently set at £25,600.
Certificate of Sponsorship tier 5
The Tier 5 visa is for non-EEA nationals who are coming to the UK for a specific purpose such as charity work, religious work, or as a creative worker. It is a points-based visa, and applicants must score enough points to be eligible to apply. To score points, applicants must have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from a UK employer who is a licensed sponsor, a valid certificate of sponsorship reference, number and pass the points-based assessment which is based on qualifications, salary, English language proficiency and availability of funds.
Can a Certificate of Sponsorship be transferred to a different worker?
Yes, a CoS can be transferred to a different worker under certain circumstances, such as if the original sponsored worker is unable to take up the job offer or if they leave the job earlier than expected.
How does the Points-Based System (PBS) impact the issuance of a Certificate of Sponsorship?
The Points-Based System (PBS) is the UK’s immigration system for non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals. A sponsored worker must score enough points on the PBS to be eligible for a visa and a CoS.
Can a Certificate of Sponsorship be revoked?
Yes, a CoS can be revoked by the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) if the conditions of sponsorship are not being met or if there are changes to the sponsored worker’s circumstances. This can result in the loss of visa eligibility and the need to leave the UK.