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HomeTipsWho Needs Certificate of Sponsorship to Work in the UK?

Who Needs Certificate of Sponsorship to Work in the UK?

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A Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is a digital record that sponsor licence holders assign to visa applicants who require sponsorship according to the visa policies laid out by the UK Home Office. This means that, if you are in the process of being recruited under certain types of visas, you would need to get the corresponding CoS from your potential employer and attach it to your visa petition.

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The visa applications that currently demand CoS are the following:

  • Skilled Worker visa: Authorises you to stay in the UK to work in an eligible job with a licensed employer.
  • Senior or Specialist Worker visa: Permits you to enter and remain in the UK to fill an eligible role at your employer’s UK branch.
  • Temporary Work – International Agreement visa: Grants access to the UK for a defined period in order to do work within the framework of international law or a treaty (e.g., for an overseas government organisation or in a diplomatic household).
  • Health and Care Worker visa: Catered toward medical professionals who are enrolled to work with the NHS, one of its suppliers, or in adult social care.
  • Global Business Mobility visa: This is an “umbrella” visa type that encompasses routes for senior or specialist workers (managers or specialists assigned to a UK branch), graduate trainees, UK expansion workers (from an overseas company that wishes to establish a UK branch), service suppliers, or secondment workers.
  • Government Authorised Exchange (GAE) visa: For people who want to work or receive training in the UK as a part of an overseas government language programme.
  • Seasonal Worker visa: For foreigners who wish to work in the horticulture sector for a period of up to 6 months.
  • International Sportsperson visa: For qualified sportspersons or sports coaches.
  • Creative Worker visa: For artists such as actors, dancers, musicians, or film crew members.
  • Charity Worker visa: For those wishing to do unpaid work for a charity organisation or initiative.
  • Religious Worker visa: For individuals wanting to work in a religious order or to fulfil a non-pastoral role.

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Sponsorship Licence

Sponsorship Licence

A sponsor licence is a permit granted to a UK business to employ people from outside the UK. To be eligible for one of the visas mentioned above, your prospective employer must have undergone a successful sponsor licence application and have access to the SMS, whereby they may be able to issue a CoS for you.

After the sponsorship licence is issued, the hiring party will be designated with a licence rating, one of which will enable them to assign Certificate of Sponsorship to individuals for their visa applications. There are two different sponsor licence ratings:

  • A-rated: Once approved, the sponsor licence is automatically A-rated, which means that the holder can assign CoS to foreigners dwelling both inside and outside the UK.
  • B-rated: The Home Office could downgrade a sponsorship licence to B-rated if the organisation receives a “non-met” score in any of the requirements for maintaining the licence. Under that paradigm, the licence is still valid, but the holder will be barred from assigning any CoS until the issues that prompted the downgrade are resolved.

Types of Certificates of Sponsorship

As of this writing, there are two types of CoS:

  • Defined (restricted) certificates: These are targeted toward people who undergo a Skilled Worker visa application from outside the UK. The employer must solicit these certificates directly via the SMS. Petitions for defined certificates are normally approved within one working day, but they could take longer depending on whether the UKVI decides to do further inquiry concerning the information contained in the application.
  • Undefined (unrestricted) certificates: The company will be asked to provide an estimate of how many Skilled Worker certificates they may need. Afterwards, a number of undefined certificates will be allocated. These certificates would be then assigned to Skilled Worker visa applicants from inside the UK, as well as applicants in all other visa categories.

The fees for each certificate are wholly paid by the hirer. The fee amount varies depending on the type of licence. As of this date, these are the costs per certificate:

  • Worker (except those under an International Sportsperson visa) – £199
  • Temporary Worker – £21
  • International Sportsperson (if the CoS is assigned for more than 12 months) – £199
  • International Sportsperson (if the CoS is assigned for a period equal to or inferior to 12 months) – £21

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Rules Regarding the Certificate of Sponsorship

The issuance of the CoS is bound to a considerable number of strict rules. The Home Office takes these procedures very seriously, and failure on the part of the employer to comply with the applicable regulations is oftentimes met with severe penalties (including withdrawal of the sponsorship licence). In the case of workers, these failures may hinder their visa process.

First of all, the job offer in question must fulfil the minimum skill level requirement. It should typically be level 3 on the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) for England and Northern Ireland, or a level equivalent to that in Scotland or Wales.

In addition, there’s a general salary threshold of around £25,600 per year, though it could be less than that if you have a relevant PhD or are sponsored to work in a shortage occupation, among other circumstances.

Furthermore, your employer would need to check if you need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate. You may have to obtain an ATAS if:

  • Your hirer has a student sponsor licence
  • You are being sponsored in a relevant occupation code (e.g., chemical scientist, mechanical engineer, laboratory technician, etc.)
  • You’ll carry out research in a “relevant subject” at a PhD level or above (e.g., pharmacology, biology, agricultural sciences, etc.)
  • Your nationality is not in the exempt nationalities from the ATAS requirement list.

Once you obtain your CoS from your future employer, you are allowed to use it for your visa application right away, provided that you’re soliciting your visa within the three months prior to the start date of the job listed therein.

Moreover, you have three months to utilize the CoS. If more than three months have passed after you were assigned your CoS, you will have to ask your hirer to provide a new one if you wish to move forward with your visa process.

Lastly, you ought to arrange with the sponsorship licence holder (the employer) a specific start and end date, as the visa petition must contain that information. Even though the certificate of sponsorship is not a physical document, you could ask your employer to provide a physical print with the certificate’s details.

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