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Certificate of Sponsorship

UK employers must assign a Certificate of Sponsorship to every non-EEA worker they hire. In order to do so, the employer needs to have been given a sponsorship licence.

Get in touch with our client care team on 0121 667 6530 to find out more about certificates of sponsorship. Our immigration lawyers in Birmingham can organise an appointment with you face-to-face, over the phone or via Skype.

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    What is a Certificate of Sponsorship?

    If a UK employer wants to hire a non-EEA national, they must assign a certificate of sponsorship to the worker. The worker will need to provide the unique certificate number when they complete their visa application.

    The Certificate of Sponsorship is a requirement for both Tier 2 and Tier 5 migrant workers.

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    Applying for a Certificate of Sponsorship

    There are two types of sponsorship licence, and you as an employer must check if your company has either one. They are either:

    • Temporary workers such as Graduate Trainees, service suppliers, secondment workers or UK expansion workers
    • Or long-term workers such as skilled workers, senior or specialist workers, international sportspersons or ministers of religion.

    If you do not have these sponsor licences yet, then you may apply. Requirements for Obtaining Sponsorship Licence:

    • Demonstrate genuine and lawful operation within the UK.
    • Showcase ability to fulfill visa sponsorship responsibilities.
    • Establish suitable HR and recruitment practices.

    Steps After Obtaining Sponsorship Licence:

    • Gain authorisation to hire overseas skilled workers.
    • Use the Sponsor Management System (SMS) account.
    • Obtain a certificate number for the prospective employee’s visa application.

    Certificates of Sponsorship for Employers

    UK employers will need to apply for a sponsorship licence in order to apply for certificates of sponsorship to assign to their foreign workers. If the employer is granted with a licence, they will be given access to a Sponsor Management System (SMS) account and will be able to submit applications for certificates of sponsorship.

    There are two types of certificates of sponsorship: Unrestricted Certificates and restricted certificates.

    Unrestricted certificates are for when an employer is hiring foreign workers who are already in the UK. When the employer applies for their licence, they will be asked to estimate how many Tier 2 and Tier 5 certificates they will need.

    Restricted certificates are for:

    • Family members (dependants) of Tier 4 migrants who are switching to a Tier 2 visa
    • Tier 2 (General) workers who are currently abroad who’ll be paid less than £159,600 a year and are not in an inward investment post

    Employers will need to apply for restricted certificates through the SMS. There is a limited number of restricted certificates available each month. Annually, there is a limit of 20,700 restricted certificates.

    What is a Sponsorship Licence?

    As mentioned, any UK employer who wishes to hire a foreign national must hold a sponsorship licence. There are two types of licences, one for Tier 2 workers and one for Tier 5 workers. Tier 2 workers are skilled workers with long-term job offers, whereas Tier 5 workers are classed as skilled temporary workers.

    One of the main requirements of a sponsorship licence is that the job has already been advertised to the UK job market, and the employer was unable to fill the position. This is known as the Resident Labour Market Test.

    The employer will need to appoint people to manage the sponsorship process when they apply for a sponsor licence. The main tool these people will use is the sponsorship management system (SMS), which is the system which is used to assign certificates of sponsorship.

    The roles which need to be filled are:

    • Authorising officer. This position must be filled by a senior and competent person
    • Key contact. This is the main point of contact with UK Visas and Immigration
    • Level 1 user. Responsible for day-to-day management of the licence

    An A-rated licence will be given if the employer’s application for a sponsor licence is approved. The business will be listed in the register of sponsors and the employer will be able to start assigning certificates of sponsorship.

    What Happens After an Employer Has Submitted a Sponsorship Licence?

    Employers will be asked to estimate how many Tier 2 and Tier 5 certificates they require when they submit a sponsor licence application. If the employer’s application for a sponsorship licence is approved, they will be able to start applying for certificates of sponsorship.

    Applications are considered on the ‘allocation date’, which is the first working day after the 10th day of each month. Applications which are made after the 5th day of the month are held until the next month’s allocation date.

    Restricted certificates will appear in the employer’s SMS account on the allocation date if the application is approved. The employer will then be free to assign certificates of sponsorship to their foreign workers.

    In exceptional circumstances, restricted certificates can be issued before the next allocation date.

    The employer will need to email the Home Office on to explain why it is urgent.

    The cost for a certificate of sponsorship is as follows:

    Type of Certificate Cost for each certificate
    Tier 2 £199
    Tier 5 £21

    The employer will not need to pay for a certificate of sponsorship if the foreign worker is a citizen of Croatia, Macedonia or Turkey.

    What is the Immigration Skills Charge?

    If the worker is applying for a visa to work in the UK for six months or more as a Tier 2 (General) worker or Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) visa, the employer will need to pay an additional immigration skills charge.

    Also, if the worker applied for a work visa from within the UK, the employer must pay the immigration skills charge, even if the visa is for less than six months.

    The employer does not need to pay if the worker they are sponsoring is:

    • Switching from a Student Visa to a Tier 2 (General) visa
    • Is going to be working as a Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Graduate Trainee
    • Will be doing a job with a PhD-level standard occupational classification (SOC) code

    Also, the employer will not need to pay any fees for the worker’s dependents.

    The SMS system will calculate exactly how much the employer needs to pay, which is based on the size of the organisation and how long the foreign national will be working for the company.

    The usual costs are:

    Period Small and charitable sponsors Medium/large sponsor
    First 12 months £364 £1,000
    Every additional six months £182 £500


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      Information for Foreign Workers

      After the employer has been given notification of their certificate of sponsorship, the certificate must be used within three months of the date it was assigned.

      When the foreign worker is completing their visa application, they will need to include the unique certificate number in their application.

      The specific requirements which the applicant needs to fulfil will differ depending on which visa they are applying for.

      UK visa applications are notoriously complex, requiring substantial documentary evidence as well as strict adherence to administrative standards.

      Our Birmingham immigration lawyers can help you through every step of a visa application with our specialist application package. One of our expert immigration lawyers in Birmingham can assist you with formulating an application to the highest standards, ensuring it meets all Home Office requirements.

      Call us now on 0121 667 6530 to find out how we can help you secure your work visa.

      What Happens if a Foreign Worker Decides to Work in a Different Position in the UK?

      Certificates of sponsorship must be used within three months of the date they are issued. During this three-month period, a foreign worker cannot be assigned any additional certificates of sponsorship.

      After this period, you can request for your current sponsor to withdraw your live certificate of sponsorship, in writing or in email. You cannot receive another certificate of sponsorship until this one is officially removed.

      The current sponsor must then cancel the live certificate within five working days of your request. If the certificate is not cancelled, you will need to send a reminder to your sponsor. The sponsor will have an additional five working days to cancel the certificate of sponsorship.

      If the sponsor still doesn’t remove the certificate of sponsorship, you can request the Sponsor Licencing Unit of the UK Visas and Immigration to remove the certificate.

      Once the current certificate is officially removed, you will be able to have another certificate of sponsorship assigned to you by a different employer.

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                Frequently Asked Questions

                There are two main categories of sponsored work visa: Tier 2 and Tier 5.

                Tier 2 visas are:

                • Tier 2 (General). This visa is for non-EEA citizens who have been offered a job in the UK. It is the most wide-ranging of the Tier 2 visas, with many different types of jobs falling under this category
                • Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer Visa). This visa is for those who have been offered a role in the UK for a multinational company. It is only open to existing employees of the company who work abroad
                • Tier 2 (Sportsperson). This visa is for internationally recognised athletes and qualified coaches
                • Tier 2 (Minister of Religion). This visa is for religious workers and missionaries who wish to undertake employment with a faith community in the UK

                Tier 5 visas are designed for workers taking up temporary positions in the UK. The different Tier 5 visas are for charity workers; creative and sports-persons; international agreements and the Youth Mobility Scheme.

                If you need any more information on the different work visas, we can help. Call us now on 0121 667 6530 to discover all you need to know about the different work visas.

                Sponsors of overseas worker are obliged to undertake several responsibilities.

                They must:

                • Check that the foreign workers have the necessary skills, qualifications and professional accreditations required for their jobs
                • Inform UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) if sponsored workers are not complying with conditions of their sponsored work visa or Certificate of Sponsorship.

                Employers must also monitor their overseas employees. This includes monitoring their employees’ immigration status, tracking and recording employees’ attendance and keeping relevant documents for each employee.

                If there are any significant changes to your business, such as the business becoming solvent or being taken over/merged, you must inform UKVI within 20 working days. You can register a change of circumstances using the sponsorship management system.

                We are a highly reputable and experienced immigration law firm with offices throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland.

                Our immigration lawyers are well versed in all areas of immigration law including visa applications, settlement applications, and asylum law. We strive to deliver the very best service to our clients.

                If you need any help with the law around certificate of sponsorship or sponsored work visa, please do not hesitate to call our Birmingham immigration lawyers now on 0121 667 6530.

                It typically takes around 1 working day to get a certificate of sponsorship.

                The SMS is an online tool used by employers to sponsor non-UK employees.

                Using the SMS, employers will be able to cancel a Certificate of Sponsorship.