Certificate of Sponsorship (COS)

A sponsor licence holder can apply for a number of Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS), which they can then use for the applicants whom they intend to sponsor. A COS is not an actual certificate or paper document but is a virtual document, similar to a database record.

Sponsor must give this reference number to a migrant whom they wish to employ because it will be a key part of their application for permission to come to the UK if they are overseas (known as 'entry clearance'), or permission to stay in the UK if they are already here (known as 'leave to remain').

A CoS can be following types under the Skilled Worker route – 'Defined CoS' and 'Undefined CoS'.

Undefined Certificate of sponsorship (CoS)

The Undefined CoS can only be assigned to a Skilled Worker who will be applying for permission to stay from within the UK (in-country applications). A sponsor can have annual allocations of undefined certificates of sponsorship.

Defined Certificate of sponsorship (CoS)

A defined Certificate of sponsorship can only be assigned to a Skilled Worker who will be applying for entry clearance from outside the UK.

A sponsor cannot apply for an annual allocation of defined CoS. They can only apply for a defined CoS as and when they require one.

Any certificate of sponsorship is valid for a period of three (3) months from the date of issue. Once a Certificate of Sponsorship is issued, a sponsor is held fully responsible for the actions of the employee. Non-compliance of the rules may result in either the withdrawal of the Certificate or demoting the sponsor to a lesser rank.

  • Government Feesv
    • Home Office fees for Assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship
      Tier Fee for small sponsors or sponsors with charitable status Fee for medium or large sponsors
      Certificate of Sponsorship for Skilled Worker £536 £1476
      Immigration Skills Surcharge £364 £1,000
      A company is usually a small sponsor if two of the following apply: annual turnover is £10.2 million or less; or total assets are worth £5.1 million or less; or have 50 employees or fewer.

      Immigration Skills Surcharge: - The fees will depend on how long the skilled worker will work, using the start and end dates on their sponsorship certificate. The fees mentioned above are based on first 12 months (per year) and each additional 6 months will be £182 (for Small or charitable sponsors) or £500 (for medium or large sponsors). There certain circumstances where a sponsor does not have to pay Immigration Skills Surcharge to sponsor a Skilled Worker.
  • Processing Timesv
    • Defined CoS: -If the application for defined CoS is straightforward and the Home Office does not require any further information, then the application is decided within one (1) working day.

      Undefined CoS: - If a sponsor does not have an allocation of COS available, then they need to apply for an increase of COS allocation. The Home Office may take anything up to 18 weeks to process this application. There is a priority change of circumstances service available where a decision will be made within 5 (five) working days. The cost of the priority service is £200.

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