In order for an individual to make a valid application for leave under Tier 2 (General), a sponsor must first assign the correct type of Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to them. Jessica Walker provides an overview of when an unrestricted CoS can be used.
There are two different types of CoS that a sponsor is able to assign, a restricted CoS and an unrestricted CoS. If a sponsor assigns an unrestricted CoS where a restricted CoS is required, the Home Office may revoke the sponsor’s licence. It is therefore important that anyone assigning CoS knows when each should be used.
We explored the circumstances in which a restricted CoS can be used here.
When to use an unrestricted CoS
An unrestricted CoS should be assigned for migrants to be sponsored under Tier 2 (General) in the following circumstances:
- if their annual salary will be at least £159,600;
- if they are already in the UK, sponsored under Tier 2 (General) and are extending their leave, changing employer or changing job role;
- if they are eligible to switch into the Tier 2 (General) category from within the UK;
- if they will be sponsored to work in a PhD level role;
- for high value inward investment posts, where the job offer is for the migrant to work in support of a posting from an overseas firm in connection with the relocation of a high value business to the UK or a significant new investment project;
- where SOC code 2231 is to be used for nurses; or
- where SOC code 2211 is to be used for medical doctors.
Many sponsors come to assign an unrestricted CoS, only to find that this is not possible as they no longer have an available allocation.
Applying for more unrestricted CoS
When applying for a sponsor licence, an organisation must confirm how many unrestricted CoS they would like to assign before the following April. All sponsors must renew their annual allocation of unrestricted CoS by 5 April each year.
In order to do this, the sponsor needs to work out how many unrestricted CoS it is likely to require in the following year to cover those needing to extend their stay and for any known new hires to whom an unrestricted CoS can be assigned, as opposed to a restricted CoS. We explore the yearly CoS application process in greater detail here.
If the sponsor decided that it was unlikely to need any unrestricted CoS during that exercise, but the need arose mid-year, for example an unexpected vacancy opened, the sponsor will need to make a specific mid-year request via the Sponsor Management System (SMS).
The Home Office generally takes a number of weeks to process such requests, but the good news is that it also offers a limited priority service to sponsors that are willing to pay.
Sponsors need to be able to justify any request for more unrestricted CoS, on an annual or a mid-year basis. If the Home Office does not accept the reasons given, it may grant fewer CoS than requested or no CoS at all. It is therefore vital that clear justification is provided when requesting an unrestricted CoS allocation.
How we can help
Our immigration experts are able to provide advice and guidance in relation to the CoS application process and any other area of sponsorship and compliance.
If you are looking to sponsor an individual and have questions regarding this, or any other area of sponsorship, our team would be pleased to assist and can be contacted here.