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    Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)

    Everyone who intends to employ a foreign person to a UK company or to get a United Kingdom visa that makes the person eligible to work in the country has to obtain a certificate of sponsorship, also known as CoS. In the article, most common questions related to the document will be answered.

    What is a Certificate of Sponsorship?

    The Certificate of Sponsor is a document that is used by the visa applicant to prove they are invited to work in the United Kingdom by an eligible business. The document is needed by both the employee and the employer. For the employee, it is one of the work visa requirements to have an official invitation issued by an approved company. From the perspective of a business, a CoS in the UK is required to legally hire foreign workers.

    To specifically answer the question what is a Certificate of Sponsorship, it would be enough to say it is an electronic document that verifies the invitation of an employee to work in the company, which in this case is known as the Sponsor.

    Such a certificate is needed even in cases where the work is unpaid. In fact, there are only a few cases in which such a certificate is unnecessary. They include the situations where the employee is already settled in the United Kingdom, has already obtained an Indefinite Leave to Remain, or is a citizen of Ireland.

    Types of Certificate of Sponsorship: defined and undefined.

    There exist two types of the document: defined and undefined ones, which are also known as Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship and Unrestricted Certificate of Sponsorship, as the number of these documents may be limited or not. The main difference between them relates to the location and the visa type of the employee. A defined CoS is a certificate designed specifically for people who apply for a Skilled Worker visa from outside of the country.

    On the other hand, an undefined CoS is designed for Skilled Worker visa applicants who are already in the United Kingdom as well as for applicants to other visas that require a certificate to be approved.

    It is possible to submit an application for a defined certificate through the official system created by the authorities. It is called SMS, and it gets enabled as soon as the company gets the licence. As for the undefined sponsorship for employment certificates, the representative of the company will have to come up with an estimated number of them when obtaining the licence. The estimation is typically made for the first year.

    What is an annual CoS allocation?

    This procedure is related to the issue mentioned in the previous section, as it is used to provide the company with the undefined certificates for employees. These certificates are provided for one year, and each year, the company gets the opportunity to adjust the number of the employment visa sponsorship slots according to its needs.

    The reason behind this procedure is related to the restrictive employment legislation. There is a limit of how many foreign employees the company is allowed to have, and the annual allocation of undefined CoS for UK visas is one of the ways to control the flow of foreigners into the UK.

    How much does a Certificate of Sponsorship cost?

    The cost of a Certificate of Sponsorship mainly depends on the worker it is associated with. The key division here is between temporary workers and regular workers. The fee for a certificate issued on the name of a temporary employee is £21, whereas the documents for regular workers cost £239.

    Aside from that fee, there might be an additional immigration skills charge, depending on the class of worker. It is implemented if the employee has a Skilled Worker visa, Senior visa, or a Specialist visa. The size of this fee depends on the company’s scale. For small businesses, hiring such a specialist will cost an additional £364 for the first year, and £182 for every following six months, aside from the main fee for the certificate itself. For larger companies, the skills charge would be £1,000 for the first year and £500 for every following six months.

    As for the employees themselves, they will also be charged other fees associated with obtaining the visa. The numbers featured in this section are only the fees paid by the company to issue the document, and they don’t include any additional charges that might be associated with the hiring process.

    How to apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship?

    To understand how to get the Certificate of Sponsorship in the UK, it is necessary to accept that the company is required to obtain the Sponsor licence first. Thus, before a business decides to apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship, they are required to apply for the licence.

    Application for the licence is made online on the official website of the Home Office. There are separate licence fees that will also have to be paid, and their amount depends on the size of the company. For small companies, the fees for Worker, Temporary Worker, and both licences are £536. For larger businesses, the Worker licence fee is £1,476, and the same price is for obtaining both licences. Temporary Worker licence for a large business also costs £536.

    Once the licence is obtained, the company becomes eligible to make a CoS application. With undefined certificates, the procedure implies submitting the estimated number of documents required for the full year. With defined ones, it is necessary to apply for each certificate separately, using the SMS system, which is unlocked after obtaining the licence.

    What is the Certificate of Sponsorship processing time?

    How long it takes to get a Certificate of Sponsorship in the UK depends on the type of the document selected. The undefined certificates will appear in the management section of the SMS system according to the estimation submitted, in case no corrections were implemented. Defined Certificate of Sponsorship processing time typically does not exceed one working day: they are approved right away in the SMS system.

    How can we help?

    As it is seen from the article, there are many tricky aspects to issuing and managing these certificates. The good news is that Sterling Law is willing to help. Our team of professionals will provide you with all the Certificate of Sponsorship guidance required.

    In case you are a representative of a business, our solicitors will be happy to answer all the questions associated with the process of attracting foreign workers. They will tell whether your business is eligible, which fees will it be necessary to pay, as well as provide all the required help throughout the process of obtaining a licence and applying for the certificates themselves. We would also be happy to consult individuals who need a proof of sponsorship for their Tier 2 or Tier 5 visas.

    It is possible to get help with the CoS in London by visiting our office, or by opting-in for an online consultation. Feel free to submit the form on this page, and our solicitors will contact you to discuss all the details about your case.


    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)?

    A Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is a document that is issued by a UK employer or educational institution to sponsor a non-EEA migrant worker or student for a visa application to come to the UK.

    How can I apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship?

    Employers or educational institutions can apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship through the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) Sponsorship Management System (SMS).

    Can a worker use a Certificate of Sponsorship more than once?

    No, a Certificate of Sponsorship can only be used once.

    What is the Certificate of Sponsorship processing time?

    Defined Certificate of Sponsorship processing time typically does not exceed one working day.

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