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Index >> Working Visas in the UK >> Skilled Work Permit >> Tier 2 Skilled Migrants Certificate of Sponsorship >&g back button

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Skilled Work Permit

Tier 2 Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)

Tier 2 Certificate of Sponsorship is the term used for work permit document, which is required as part of the Tier 2 General application. In order to apply for a Tier 2 UK visa, you must have a valid 'Certificate of Sponsorship' from the employer who has offered you a job. All non-EEA nationals coming to the UK to work or study must have a sponsoring organisation. Once a sponsor has been granted a sponsorship license by the United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA), the sponsor will need to assess what type of Certificate of Sponsorship is required for the migrant - 'restricted' or 'unrestricted'.

The 'Certificate of Sponsorship' is, in fact, a unique reference number which links you to the job you intend to do and your employer. You will not receive a paper certificate.

It is your Sponsor's responsibility to provide you with:

  • Your Certificate of Sponsorship reference number.

  • Information associated with that reference number such as the declared wage.

Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship
Since 6 April 2011, all migrants applying from overseas have been subject to a limit whereby the government will only allow a specific number overseas migrants to enter the UK during each year. The number of restricted certificates available between April 2012 and April 2013 was set at 20,700. Available certificates will be divided up and each month employers must make requests for a Certificate of Sponsorship.

This applies to all migrants applying for a visa from outside the UK. Points will be awarded based on the following:

  • Priority is given to those roles on the shortage occupation list.

  • Then to those who apply to work in a role which requires a PhD and is in the research field.

  • Then to those who have carried out a resident labour market test. Note that the higher the salary, the more points will be awarded.

Unrestricted Certificates of Sponsorship
Employers can apply for any number of unrestricted sponsorship certificates based on their estimated requirements. Unrestricted Certificates can be allocated to the following individuals:

  • Intra Company Transfers.

  • Tier 2 migrants extending their stay with their original employer.

  • Tier 2 migrants with valid leave extending their stay by switching to a new employer.

  • Those admitted in another visa category and applying to switch in-country into the Tier 2 (General) category.

  • Where transitional arrangements for those already in the United Kingdom as a Tier 2 migrant or work permit holder apply. 

  • Those seeking admission to fill a vacancy attracting a salary of £150,000 or more; or Tier 2 Sports People or Ministers of Religion.

A Certificate of Sponsorship is not a physical document, but instead is a unique reference number that is provided to the candidate allowing them to make a visa application. 

When issuing a certificate to a candidate, the sponsoring employer must complete the Certificate of Sponsorship application form and they must also detail the position's status as a 'shortage occupation' or demonstrate that the position has passed the Resident Labour Market Test. The sponsoring employer is responsible for informing the applicant when a Certificate of Sponsorship is issued.
Please note that a sponsorship certificate does not guarantee that a visa will be granted, but instead forms a precondition for all potential migrants wishing to come to the UK. Only once you are in possession of a Certificate of Sponsorship you may apply for your visa.

Your Certificate of Sponsorship must:

  • Contain the same details as in your Passport.

  • Be assigned to you by your sponsor (employer) no more than three months before the date you apply.

Not have been withdrawn by your sponsor or the UKBA.
A Certificate of Sponsorship will run out if it is not used within three months of your sponsor assigning it to you.

What makes a Certificate of Sponsorship "valid"?

For your visa application to be successful, your Certificate of Sponsorship must be 'valid'. To be valid, a Certificate of Sponsorship must

  • Be clearly yours. It must bear your name, age and other details as they appear on your passport.

  • Have been 'Live' for no more than 3 months when you make your Tier 2 visa application. Please note, if you fail to make your application within three months, you must apply for a new Certificate of Sponsorship from your sponsor.

  • Not have been withdrawn or cancelled by either the Sponsor or by the UK Border Agency.

When is a Certificate of Sponsorship "live"?

In order for your visa application to be successful, your Certificate of Sponsorship must also be 'live'. A Certificate of Sponsorship:

  • becomes live at the point where a reference number has been allocated to it by the Sponsorship Management System of the UK Border Agency.

  • remains live until such time as the applicant uses its reference number to make an application for leave (to enter or remain in the UK) under Tier 2. 

A Certificate of Sponsorship will always expire after three months if it has not been used. No one is entitled to have more than one live Certificate of Sponsorship at one time.

What if you have a "live" Certificate of Sponsorship but decided not to go ahead with your application

In that case, you should contact your sponsor who will cancel the Certificate of Sponsorship. If you fail to do so, it will expire after three months in any event.

What if you have a "live" Certificate of Sponsorship" but decided to work in another position in the UK

If you wish to take up alternative employment in the UK then the procedure is as follows

  • You must ask your sponsor to withdraw your live Certificate of Sponsorship, either in writing or by email. You cannot apply for another Certificate while the original one remains live.

  • The sponsor must then cancel your live Certificate within five days of receiving your request.

  • If your sponsor does not cancel your Certificate, you can ask the Sponsor Licensing Unit of the UKBA to cancel it instead.

Once the original Certificate is cancelled, you can apply for another from your preferred employer.

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