Any organisation or educational institution can apply for a sponsorship licence, provided they meet the relevant requirements. The organisation can be an independent business, franchise, or a newly-acquired business. Each organisation will have a different set of requirements that must be met before a Sponsorship License can be gained. We strongly recommend that organisations seek advice before making the application, because if your application is refused, the organisation will not be allowed to submit an application again for 6 months.
Once the application is submitted with the evidence relevant to your organisation, the Home Office will review the evidence, and in most cases they visit the organisation in order to verify whether the organisation is compliant with the requirements. You should seek advice in order to confirm what compliance requirements should be met by your organisation. Once the compliance requirements have been met, the Sponsorship licence will be granted which will be valid for 4 years. After the Sponsorship Licence is granted, the organisation can request and assign the relevant Certificate of Sponsorship (SoC).
There are 3 categories of Sponsorship License:
Tier 2 (Skilled workers, intra company transfers, sportsperson, minister of religion)
Tier 4 (Adult students, children)
Tier 5 (Temporary workers)
In order to hire a worker or sponsor a student from inside or outside the UK or European Economic Areas, the employer or educational institution must have a Sponsorship Licence from the UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI).
Certificate of Sponsorship (COS)
A Certificate of Sponsorship is an electronic record and not a physical document. Each certificate of sponsorship has its own number which the migrant can use to apply for a visa.
There are 2 types of CoS; Unrestricted and Restricted.
An Unrestricted Certificate can only be assigned to the migrant/employee already inside the UK. They will be required to take a Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) if the migrant is already in the UK on a Tier 2 Visa, and they will need to issued with a Certificate of Sponsorship under the change of circumstances category, which is unrestricted COS.
When the employer applies for license, it is asked to estimate how many Tier 2 and Tier 5 certificates it will need. The employer can apply for any number of unrestricted sponsorship certificates depending upon their business needs. However, the employer will need to provide evidence to show that they need the amount of certificates they have asked for.
A Restricted Certificate is mainly assigned to foreign employees/migrants coming from outside the UK. A CoS cannot be issued without conducting a Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) that is advertising the role for 28 days’ period in a specified manner.
The sponsor company must apply for restricted certificates through the SMS (Sponsorship Management System). The company gets this certificate when it gets the sponsor license. Restricted Certificates are allotted in limited numbers each month. A point-based system is used to assess each application.
All the applications for restricted certificate are considered on the first working day after the 10th day of the month. This is known as the ‘allocation date’. Every application applied after the 5th day of the month is held until the next month’s allocation date. If your application is approved, you can see your restricted certificate in your SMS account on the allocation date. After this, you can assign a certificate to a worker. You can apply again in case if your application is rejected.
Validity of Certificate of Sponsorship
The certificate of sponsorship is valid for a period of 3 months from the date of issue under a Tier 2 or Tier 5 category. However, the COS can be issued for 6 months or over to a maximum period of 5 years, however, the salary requirements will differ according to the period the COS is issued for.
Other key points to consider are:
- Your Certificate of Sponsorship must include the same details as in your passport
- It must be assigned to you by your sponsor no more than three months before the date you apply
- Your certificate of sponsorship must not have been withdrawn by your sponsor or the UKBA
- If you don’t use your Certificate of Sponsorship within three months of your sponsor assigning it to you then it will run out
Salary and Allowances
From April 2015 you will be required to pay a minimum salary of £20800.00. In any other case, the salary requirement must meet the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) Codes.