Skilled Worker (previously Tier 2 General) sponsor licence holders that were sponsors before 1 December 2020 should carry out a review to assess how many undefined CoS they are likely to need to assign during the 12 month period from 6 April. Here we take a look at the new process.
Sponsors needing to assign undefined CoS should apply for the new annual allocation using the Sponsor Management System (SMS).
What about new sponsor licence holders?
The annual CoS allocation process now only applies to sponsors that held a valid Tier 2 (General) licence on 30 November 2020, which was converted to a Skilled Worker on 1 December 2020.
Organisations that were granted a sponsor licence from 1 December 2020 must renew their undefined CoS allocation 12 months from the date the licence was first granted and, from then on, 12 months from the date an allocation renewal request was granted.
No longer having to process requests for thousands of CoS from every sponsor at the same time should enable UKVI to process applications more efficiently.
Here we are focusing on the Skilled Worker route but sponsors that hold an Intra-Company licence should also apply to renew their annual CoS allocation if needed.
Undefined CoS under the new Points-Based System
April 2021 marks the first year that Skilled Worker sponsors will be assessing their CoS needs under the new Immigration Rules. In 2020 the rules changed widening the pool of potential workers businesses can sponsor.
Previously, the Tier 2 (General) category required the worker to have secured a job at RQF level 6 (degree level) or higher, normally with a minimum salary of £30,000 or the appropriate rate for the Occupation code. Under the updated points-based system, the minimum salary threshold is £25,600, unless an exception applies, with the minimum job level at RQF level 3 (equivalent A levels).
Who can switch into the Skilled Worker route?
More migrants can now switch to the Skilled Worker category. We are therefore expecting more sponsors to need to apply for undefined CoS.
Only those in the UK with permission to stay under the following routes are unable to switch into the route from inside the UK:
- as a Visitor; or
- as a Short-term student; or
- as a Parent of a Child Student; or
- as a Seasonal Worker; or
- as a Domestic Worker in a Private Household; or
- outside the Immigration Rules.
Good news for employers
The ‘New Entrant’ category allows sponsors to apply a reduced minimum salary threshold for up to four years in some cases, including in relation to those switching from the Graduate route, those applying directly from the Student/Tier 4 routes and those under 26. This will enable businesses to pay competitive salaries whilst benefitting migrants who wish to work and live in the UK.
There are other circumstances where workers can be paid less than the ‘going rate’, but no less than £20,480, for example if the job is on the shortage occupation list, the worker has a PhD level qualification relevant to the role or the role is a postdoctoral position in science or higher education. There are other salary rules which cover jobs in healthcare and education and further information on pay for these sectors is available here.
Who to include in the CoS calculation?
Sponsors only need to apply under the undefined Skilled Worker CoS annual allocation if they believe that they may need to issue undefined CoS during next year’s cycle to a person who:
- is already in the UK, sponsored as a Skilled Worker, and will need to extend their permission to stay;
- is in the UK in a different category and is eligible to switch into Skilled Worker (other than those who hold leave as a dependant of a Tier 4 migrant); and
- EEA nationals who are not eligible to apply for settled or pre-settled status or who do not qualify under any of the other immigration routes.
Requests for a new Skilled Worker CoS annual allocation should include a brief justification for the number of CoS required. UKVI generally approve allocations quickly, but further information can be requested.
What if we miss the deadline?
There’s no need to worry. Sponsors can request additional undefined CoS at any time throughout the year if the need arises. In general, UKVI is processing in-year applications efficiently.
What about workers who are overseas?
If the person you wish to sponsor is not in the UK, or is not in an eligible immigration category, they will need to make a visa application from overseas and you will need to request a defined CoS from UKVI to support that application. These are applied for and assessed on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us for assistance with that process.
Skilled Worker sponsor licences: How our immigration solicitors can help
If your organisation needs a sponsor licence or assistance with a current licence, we have significant experience in this area of law. We will ensure that applications are fully prepared and provide support and guidance to you throughout the process. We will also ensure that you are fully aware of the various sponsor duties your organisation will need to comply with once the licence application is approved and provide you with ongoing support. If you require assistance, please contact us or complete our enquiry form below.