What is a UK Visa Sponsorship for Employers?
A UK Visa Sponsorship for Employers is the authorization empowering UK employers with the right to assign Certificate of Sponsorship for foreign nationals that come to the UK under a work visa. Those seeking to get a sponsor employer, must have the needed qualification, experience and skills for the position which should be suitable for sponsorship.
A UK employer that wants to hire foreign workers in their organization will be asked to sponsor them in their visa application, by granting them with a certificate of sponsorship for work. The longest an employer can sponsor a foreign worker is five years.
The purpose of a Certificate of Sponsorship is, primarily, to support foreign workers’ visa application but, equally, is to assure the UK authorities that the UK employer will take the needed responsibilities and obligations for activities of the sponsored employee during their employment in their company.
What is a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)?
Certificates of sponsorship (CoS) are not regular paper documents, they are electronic records with a unique number reserved for each foreign employee. This number is to be used by the employee during their application for the work visa (amongst a list of other application documents), and it cannot be put in use later than three months from the issuance day.
Who can get a Certificate of Sponsorship to work in the UK?
Any foreigner who has the required skills, qualification and experience to do a job in either Tier 2 or Tier 5 of the point-based system, is eligible to get a sponsor employer in the UK.
Tier 2 skilled workers:
- Tier 2 General – persons that have a job offer in a skilled job position or a position ranked in the shortage list that cannot be taken by the settled or EEA workers
- Tier 2 Intra-company transfer – foreigners working in a multinational company willing to either get a job position that cannot be taken by the settled or EEA workers, or to follow a training program within the UK branch of the same company.
- Tier 2 Sportsperson – foreigners with a job offer as an elite sportsperson or coach in the UK who are internationally recognized and whose contribution would be of a benefit for further development of the UK sport field
- Tier 2 Minister of religion – foreigners with a job offer for a position in a faith community as a minister of religion, engage in preaching and pastoral activities, missionaries or are members of religious orders.
- Creative and sporting: foreigners with a job offer for a position that lasts up to 1 year as a sportsperson, or lasting up to 2 years for a job as an entertainer or artist
- Charity worker: foreigners with a job offer for an voluntary position lasting up to 1 year
- Religious worker: foreigners with a job offer lasting up to 2 years as a preacher, pastor or non-pastor
- Government authorised exchange: foreigners with a job offer lasting up to 1 year for work experience purposes, or lasting up to 2 years for attending a training or research projects for exchange purposes
- International agreement: foreigners they have a short-term position covered by the international law – i.e. a position as foreign government staff, or as a private servant in a diplomatic household
Who Can Sponsor Foreign Workers?
Almost any UK employer is entitled to employ foreign staff in their company. Yet, they must be authorized for issuing Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS). To issue a CoS, an employer must first get the sponsor license – a license that is appropriate to the type of job they will be occupying with foreign staff.
The legitimacy to sponsor employment of the foreign staff within their company is reserved only to those employers who are capable of coping with the necessary requirements, conditions and procedures set for the UK employment sponsorship.
How to Get a CoS?
A CoS has to be created by the assigned staff of the sponsor employer using Sponsorship Management System (SMS), after the staff was given the login details of a licensed sponsor (following the successful application for the license).
The sponsor has to complete all the mandatory fields in the system with the needed information regarding the sponsored foreign employer. The information includes ID information, passport info, current home address, identification numbers, work address, work dates, home address in the UK, migrant employment, labour market test, other as required in the online form.
There is a fee to be paid by the sponsor employer for assigning a certificate of sponsorship as in the following:
- Tier 2 CoS – £199
- Tier 5 CoS – £21
- Free to nationals of the Turkey, Croatia and North Macedonia
Another fee known as “Immigration Skills Charge” is applicative when it comes to issuing Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) CoS. The fee needs to be paid latest 10 days from assigning the CoS; otherwise workers visa will be cancelled.
What are the Types of CoS?
Depending on the job a foreign employee will be performing in their business, the employer must require a sponsor license to issue certificates of sponsorship for either in Tier 2 – skilled workers with long term contracts, or Tier 5 – temporary workers with short-term.
When the employer applies for the license, they have to estimate the number of CoS they are attentive to issue in the first year of the license.
For specific jobs, employers are restricted as regards of the number of CoS allowed to assign each month. These are known as restricted certificates. While, for some jobs there is no limitation on the number of CoS employer can assign, and these are called unrestricted certificates.
Restricted certificates are issued on the following categories:
- Tier 2 (General) out of the UK, with a salary offer under £159,600/year
- Dependants of Tier 4 foreigners willing to switch into a Tier 2 visa
How to apply for a Sponsoring Licence?
Briefly said, the organization can assign CoS and support a foreign employee to come and work with them in the UK if the following conditions are met:
- have open job positions suitable for sponsorship,
- prove that their organization is an eligible business,
- successfully apply for and receive the appropriate sponsor license,
- demonstrate having the necessary staff and capacity to properly administrate with the sponsorship process
UK employers have to undergo the following steps of applying to get a sponsor license:
- Complete, sign and send the online application form for sponsor license
- Pay the application fee
- Send the supporting documents to show you are located in the UK
- Show documents which prove being an eligible and suitable business/organization
- Send planning permission, or local planning authority consent to operate the type of business at your trading address (if required)
- Offer the registration certificate with the food authority (if being a food business)
- During the application, the tiers, categories and subcategories under which the employer wishes to be licensed must be chosen, in order to get the appropriate sponsor license
Table of fees involved in the application for sponsor license
|Premium sponsor scheme – Tiers 2 & 5 (large sponsor)||£25,000|
|Premium sponsor scheme – Tiers 2 & 5 (small sponsor)||£8,000|
|Premium sponsor scheme – Tiers 2 & 5 (large sponsor) for a period of 3 months||£6,250|
|Premium sponsor scheme – Tiers 2 & 5 (small sponsor) for a period of 3 months||£2,000|
|Premium Change of Circumstances||£200|
|Tier 2 large sponsor license (may also include Tier 4 and/or Tier 5)||£1,476|
|Tier 2 small sponsor license (may also include Tier 4 and/or Tier 5)||£536|
|Tier 5 sponsor license||£536|
|Add Tier 2 to an existing Tier 4 &/or Tier 5 license (large sponsor)||£940|
|Sponsor action plan||£1,476|
|Tier 2 Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)||£199|
|Tier 5 Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)||£21|
What is considered a job suitable for sponsorship?
Job suitability means that the job position a UK employer offers for the foreign national worker meets the criteria as regards of the salary offered and skills required.
This because for every category there is a criterion for sponsorship, as in the following:
- Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) – must reach the level 6 and higher of the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF)
- Ballet dancers, other dancers, film and TV performers, theatre and opera performers, film and TV workers
The sponsor has to take the procedure known as “the resident labour market test” in some cases to assure that the job position that can be occupied by the foreign worker could not be filled by either local or EEA nationals.
The case includes Tier 2 (General), Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) or Tier 5 (Religious Workers) important positions only, excluding cases when of living within a religious order (such as a monk or nun), as well as for Tier 5 (Creative and Sporting) in the creative and entertainment sector.
The test means advertising the job position in minimum two job advertising mediums for 28 days.
What is an Immigration Skills Charge?
Immigration skills charge is a fee to be paid from the sponsor employer when assigning CoS for Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) foreigners.
The fee is charged for the aforementioned cases if they are expecting to get a job lasting 6 months or longer while they are out of the UK. While, if the foreigner is already in the UK the fee will be charged for any sort of extent of the job period.
Excempt to pay this fee are cases when the sponsor wishes to assign a CoS to the following cases:
- A foreigner with Tier 4 (General) student about to switch into a Tier 2 (General)
- A foreigner already having a Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Graduate Trainee
- A foreigner who is about to get a job within the PhD level of the SOC code
- Dependants of the worker that the sponsor wishes to assign CoS for
The fee depends on the size of the sponsor employer and the length of the contract with the sponsored foreign worker, but the general fee is presented below:
- First year / small or charitable employers – £364
- First year / medium or large employers – £1,000
- Every further half-year / small or charitable employers – £182
- Every further half-year / medium or large employers – £500
- For persons working less than a year and more than half-year – £364 or £1,000
Which are responsibilities of the sponsor?
Assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship to a foreign worker will make the sponsor responsible as in the following:
- Properly examine skills, education, accreditations related to the job requirements
- The issuance of the CoS has to be for a suitable job for sponsorship
- Inform UKVI about any break of the visa conditions from the sponsored worker
- be informed about workers’ immigration status
- keeping dossier of sponsorship for any foreign worker
- keep information and registers about workers presence in the work place and inform IKVI in case of any unexplained absence
- update contact information of the worker
- For any change in the business process – must inform UKVI within 20 working days, if any of the following happen to the sponsor employer:
- change in the business’ scope of work
- part-taking in a union or take-over
The change must be registered using SMS.
Who cannot be sponsored to work in the UK?
Employers are not allowed to sponsor the following:
- Persons aged below 18 for the category of Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme), Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – International Agreement) for a job as a private servant in a diplomatic household, or in the household of an international organization
- Persons aged below 16 for the any Tier 2 category