Sponsorship License
10 mins read

Sponsorship License

The holder of a sponsorship license is the organization responsible for issuing a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) directly to the migrant.

The CoS is not a real document but a reference number that the migrant can use to request a residence permit or entry into the United Kingdom. This step-by-step guide highlights the differences between undefined and defined CoS and the process employers should use when requesting one.

What is uk certificate of sponsorship?

A certificate of sponsorship is a self-certifying electronic document that the sponsoring employer issues to the employee to allow him or her to apply for a visa and be placed in the organization. Sponsors must award a certificate of sponsorship to each foreign national they sponsor.

Types of Sponsorship Certificate

Following changes to immigration rules in December 2020, there are now two types of sponsorship certificates: ‘defined’ and ‘undefined’ certificates of sponsorship.

Definite Certificates of Sponsorship (formerly “restricted certificates”) are issued to skilled worker visa applicants applying from abroad. For this type of certificate, employers apply through the Sponsorship Management System (SMS) once they have obtained their sponsor license.

The defined CoS will appear in the SMS account once approved, at which point the employer can assign it to the worker.

Undefined CoS (formerly known as ‘unrestricted certificates’) are required to sponsor skilled worker visa applicants already in the UK and applicants for all other sponsored visa routes.

Who needs a certificate of sponsorship?

A Certificate of Sponsorship is required for people applying for a UK permit to enter or remain in the UK-sponsored work visa categories including:

  • Skilled worker visa
  • Global business mobility visas
  • Expanded visa
  • Minister of Religion
  • International sportsman
  • Expanding worker
  • Creative worker
  • Religious worker
  • Government-authorized exchange
  • International agreement
  • Seasonal worker

How much does a Certificate of Sponsorship cost?

Sponsors have to pay a fee to assign a Certificate of Sponsorship to a worker. The fee amount will depend on factors such as the type of visa being applied for and how long the CoS is assigned for. For example, a Skilled Worker visa CoS costs £239 from 4 October 2023 (previously £199), while a CoS for a Temporary Worker visa costs £25 from 4 October.

The following table sets out the latest CoS fees for sponsors.

Fees categoryCurrent FeeNew fee from 4 October 2023Fee Change
Premium Sponsor Service (12 months) Worker sponsor and Temporary worker sponsor – large sponsors£25,000£25,000£0
Premium Sponsor Service (12 months) Worker sponsor and Temporary worker sponsor – small sponsors£8,000£8,000£0
Premium Sponsor Service (12 months) Student sponsors£8,000£8,000£0
The expedited processing of a sponsorship management request made by a Worker sponsor or Temporary worker sponsor£200£200£0
Priority service for expedited processing of sponsor licence applications£500£500£0
Worker sponsor licence (large sponsor )£1,476£1,476£0
Worker sponsor licence (small sponsor)£536£536£0
Student sponsor licence£536£536£0
Temporary Worker sponsor licence£536£536£0
Worker and Temporary Worker sponsor licence (large sponsor)£1,476£1,476£0
Worker and Student sponsor licence (large sponsor)£1,476£1,476£0
Worker, Temporary Worker and Student sponsor licence (large sponsor)£1,476£1,476£0
Temporary Worker and Student sponsor licence£536£536£0
Worker sponsor licence (large sponsor), where sponsor currently holds a Temporary Worker and/or Student Sponsor Licence£940£940£0
Endorsement fee for a Scale-up sponsor licence under Endorsing Body Pathway (payable to the endorsing body) excluding VAT£1,500£1,500£0
Student sponsor basic compliance assessment£536£536£0
Sponsor action plan£1,476£1,476£0
Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS): Skilled Worker, T2 Minister of Religion, Global Business Mobility – Senior or Specialist Worker£199£239£40
Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) – Temporary Worker including Global Business Mobility – Graduate Trainee, UK Expansion Worker, Service Supplier and Secondment Worker route, and Scale-up route£21£25£4
Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) for International Sportsperson route – Over 12 Months£199£239£40
Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) for International Sportsperson route – Up to 12 months or less£21£25£4
Confirmation of Acceptance for Study (CAS) for student, child student£21£25£4

Applying for defined Certificates of Sponsorship

You must hold a Class A license to apply for a defined sponsorship certificate.

The Home Office 12 SMS Guide details the steps needed to assign a defined CoS:

  • The level 1 or level 2 user accesses the SMS.
  • Select “CoS Defined” from the Workers screen.
  • Choose “Require a defined CoS”.
  • Select the CoS category and enter the required number of CoS.
  • Enter all your employment details on the page titled “CoS Request Defined – Employment Details” that appears.
  • On the confirmation screen, verify that the information is accurate.
  • Check the box to confirm that you have read, understood and agreed to all the terms indicated.
  • Select “Send”.
  • Your request will appear on the “Application for CoS Defined – Submitted” screen.

Awarding of Undefined Certificates of Sponsorship

The Home Office 8 SMS Guide details the steps needed to assign a defined CoS:

  • Select “Create and Assign” from the Workers screen.
  • Select the CoS visa category in the “Create and Assign CoS” interface.
  • Enter your employment details on the page titled “CoS Request Defined – Employment Details” that appears. Then, “Save.”
  • On the “Confirm Saved CoS” screen, verify that the information is accurate. Choose “Edit” to make changes.
  • Select “Assign”.
  • You will see the “Confirm CoS Details Before Assignment” screen, where you can verify that all information is correct.
  • Check the box to confirm that you have read, understood and agreed to all the terms indicated. Select “Assign CoS”.
  • You will be redirected to the online payment screen to pay the CoS fee and, if applicable, the immigration fees.
  • After completing the payment, you will be redirected to the SMS and the “Single CoS Assigned” screen, where you will see that the CoS has been assigned and assigned a unique CoS number.
  • Your application number will also be displayed on the “Application for CoS Defined – Submitted” screen.

For employers with a provisionally rated licence, only one certificate of sponsorship can be issued to the Authorizing Officer to allow them to enter the UK. You should then upgrade your license to an A classification and apply for additional certificates of sponsorship using the SMS.

What documents are required for the Certificate of Sponsorship?

When applying for the Certificate of Sponsorship, UK employers must provide the following documents:

  • Sponsorship certificate request form
  • Copy of your social security number
  • Copies of the worker’s essential qualifications
  • Copy of the employee’s CV
  • Personal data of the foreign worker
  • Details of the route along which the migrant worker is sponsored
  • Proof of the salary offered to the migrant worker
  • Information about the role the migrant worker will play in the UK
  • Overview of the tasks the international worker will perform
  • Information on how many hours the migrant employee will work per week
  • Confirmation of the start and end date of the employment relationship
  • Receipt certifying that the sponsor has paid a fee for the awarding of the Certificate of Sponsorship
  • Employer contact details

Our lawyers can help you gather all the necessary documents and guide you through the process of awarding the Certificate of Sponsorship to foreign workers.

What information do I need to provide in the application form?

UK employers must submit the Certificate of Sponsorship application form to obtain the Certificate of Sponsorship for their prospective overseas employees. In the form they must provide the following information about the international worker:

  • Personal information: name and surname, gender, nationality and date of birth
  • Passport or travel document: passport number, issue and expiry dates and place of issue
  • Home Address: Their current home address and country of residence
  • Job details: start and end dates of employment, as well as total number of hours worked per week
  • Work address in the UK
  • Sponsorship details: job title, job summary, gross pay, frequency of pay, employing organization, funding source

How to apply for a sponsorship license

To apply for a sponsorship license in the UK, follow these general steps:

Check Eligibility

Make sure your organization meets the eligibility criteria. This typically includes having a legitimate, active business or organization in the UK.

Choose the type of sponsorship license

Determine the type of license you need based on the category of workers you plan to sponsor. Common categories include skilled worker, intracompany transfer, temporary worker, and more.

Appoint key personnel

Identify the people within your organization who will serve as key personnel responsible for managing the sponsorship process. This typically includes orderers, key contacts, and Tier 1 users. They must be eligible and meet specific requirements.

Register on the Sponsorship Management System (SMS):

Create an account on the Sponsorship Management System (SMS), an online portal provided by the UK Home Office for managing sponsorships. Complete the registration process, which includes providing details about your organization and key personnel.

Fill out the application form:

Fill out the sponsor license request form online via SMS. Provide detailed information about your organization, its activities and the type of workers you intend to sponsor.

Pay the registration fee

Pay the required registration fee, which varies depending on the size and type of your organization. Payment is generally made online via SMS.

Send supporting documents

Upload all necessary supporting documents, such as financial statements, business bank statements and any other documents required by the Home Office.

Wait for a decision

The Home Office will review your request and may conduct a compliance visit to assess your organisation’s willingness to sponsor workers. This visit could be in person or virtual.

Receive sponsorship license

If your application is approved, you will receive a sponsorship license from the Home Office. This license will specify the category and number of Certificates of Sponsorship (COS) you can assign.

Manage and respect

Use SMS to manage your sponsorship duties, including assigning COS to workers, reporting changes, and maintaining records. Ensure compliance with all immigration regulations.