Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
In order for an individual to make a valid application for leave under Tier 2, a sponsor must first assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to them.
There are two types of CoS that can be assigned, an unrestricted or a restricted CoS.
Unrestricted CoS are to be used for those who are already in the UK and are looking to change sponsor or switch into the Tier 2 route (for example from Tier 4) or for those entering the UK from overseas who will be paid an annual salary of at least £159,600.
When a sponsor initially applies for a licence, it will be asked to confirm how many CoS are required and may be asked to provide evidence or a detailed explanation as to why the business will need to assign that amount of CoS.
Any CoS that have not been assigned will expire on the 5 April each year and prior to this time, sponsors will be asked to anticipate the amount of CoS required for the following year and to submit a request to renew the yearly allocation.
If a sponsor fails to submit a request to renew the CoS allocation, it is possible to apply for a new allocation throughout the year. Whilst a priority service is available for sponsors that need a new allocation of CoS within the year, if the priority service is not used, it can take up to 18 weeks for the Home Office to process a request for an increased allocation. It is therefore recommended that if there is a possibility that a CoS will be required, for example if a current sponsored worker’s leave will need to be extended, that sponsors apply for a CoS allocation before April. If a sponsor overestimates its needs, any unused CoS will expire on 5 April each year.
Restricted CoS are generally to be used by those who are currently abroad or who are in the UK as the dependant of a Tier 4 student.
Unlike unrestricted CoS, there is a limit on the amount of restricted CoS that the Home Office can issue each month. Each application for a restricted CoS will be assessed using a points system, with those earning a higher salary or with a shortage occupation role receiving more points.
Restricted CoS applications are only reviewed once a month. Applications must therefore be submitted by the 5th of the month with decisions being made on or after the 11th. If an application for a Restricted CoS is made after the 5th of the month, it will be held over until the next month.
When applying for a restricted CoS, it is not unusual for the Home Office to request further information regarding the role, how the individual was identified and if a Resident Labour Market Test was carried out. Sponsors should therefore be prepared to provide information in relation to this.
Once a restricted certificate of sponsorship has been awarded, it must be assigned to an individual within three months or it will expire, and the process would need to be completed again.
Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS): How we can help
Our immigration experts are able to provide advice and guidance in relation to applying for and assigning CoS and can provide detailed advice regarding the eligibility requirements for both an unrestricted and restricted CoS.
If your organisation requires legal assistance in this area or would just like to discuss your situation with a member of our team on a no-obligation basis, please contact us.