Certificate of Sponsorship

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Certificates of Sponsorship (‘CoS’) are electronic records which must be assigned for each migrant worker you employ. Each CoS will have a unique reference number which enables an applicant worker to apply for a visa.

In order to obtain a Certificate of Sponsorship from the Home Office, a sponsoring employer will need to complete a CoS form. The CoS form will ask for information such as the migrant’s personal information, contact details, work address(es) in the UK, job description, hours, salary, and start and end date of employment. The Certificate of Sponsorship must include the same details as stated in the applicant worker’s passport.

There are two types of CoS:

• Defined Certificates
• Undefined Certificates

It is the sponsoring employer’s responsibility to determine which type of CoS is needed for the migrant worker.

Defined Certificates of Sponsorship are for Skilled Workers who are currently abroad. You must apply for a Defined CoS for an individual worker through the sponsorship management system (SMS). Applications are usually approved within one working day but may take longer if UKVI needs to carry out further checks or requests further information. Once a Defined CoS has been approved, you can then assign it to the migrant.

Undefined Certificates of Sponsorship are available to individuals who are seeking to switch into the Skilled Worker category from within the UK or extend their stay in the UK as a Tier 2 (General) / Skilled Worker migrant. They are also for those applying on the Intra-Company, T5 or T2 routes. If you have an Undefined CoS available, it can be assigned immediately to a migrant applying from within the UK. If you do not have one available, you will need to make an allocation request to the Home Office, which can take up to 18 weeks to process with the possibility of speeding this up by using a priority change of circumstances request.

It is employer’s responsibility to ensure that the applicant worker is informed when a CoS is assigned. A CoS can only be used once and will expire if it is not used by the applicant worker within 3 months of the employer assigning it to them.

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Sponsor Licence renewals

Sponsor Licences are granted for an initial period of 4 years. If you wish to continue to sponsor migrants, you will need to renew your licence before it expires. If your sponsor licence renewal application is successful, your sponsor licence will be extended for a further 4 years.

What are the main eligibility requirements for a Sponsor Licence Renewal?

Sponsor licence renewal applications must be submitted online via the Sponsor Management System (SMS).

Once you have submitted a valid application to renew your sponsor licence, you may be asked to send additional business-related documents to UKVI. Any additional corporate documents will need to be sent to the Home Office within 5 working days.

If, as a sponsoring company, you fail to send requested documents, UKVI may reduce or remove your CoS allocation or downgrade, suspend or revoke your licence.

When you apply to renew your sponsor licence, UKVI may visit your business premises. This is particularly likely if you have not received a Home Office compliance visit in the last 4 years.

If UKVI compliance officers have any concerns about your actions as a sponsor then they may downgrade or revoke your licence.

What else do I need to know about Sponsor Licence Renewals?

As a sponsor company you can apply to renew your licence up to a maximum of 90 days before your licence is due to expire.

If you have any sponsored migrants working for you and you want them to continue working for you, you must renew your licence before it expires, even if you do not plan to sponsor any new migrants.

Before applying to renew a sponsor licence, it is important that thorough checks are carried out to ensure that sponsor licence details are correct and that all sponsor duties have been complied with.

If you fail to renew your sponsor licence then you will not be able to assign any more CoS and your company details will be removed from the online public register of licensed sponsors.

If you fail to renew your licence but continue to employ sponsored migrants, their leave will be curtailed. This means that they will have their visa shortened to 60 days, after which point they will have to switch immigration category, leave the UK or be subject to removal.

Sponsor Licence Refusals

Once the Home Office has made a decision on your sponsor licence application, they will write to you to tell you whether your licence application has been approved or refused. There is no right of appeal against the refusal of an application for a sponsor licence. However, other potential remedies exist to challenge sponsor licence refusals.

Challenging Sponsor Licence Refusals

If the sponsor licence refusal decision was the result of either a caseworker error or the result of supporting evidence sent as part of your application not being considered by UKVI, then it is possible to request that the error be corrected and, if appropriate, submit a new online sponsor licence application.

If the decision to refuse your sponsor licence application was unlawful, unreasonable or procedurally improper, then you can apply to judicially review the refusal decision.

It is also possible to simply re-apply for a new sponsor licence, by submitting a fresh Sponsor Licence Application.

You can re-apply straight away if the Home Office refused your sponsor licence application because you failed to provide documents or information requested by a deadline for reasons beyond your control or because the online application was submitted by a representative.

You will have to wait 6 months before re-applying for a sponsor licence if you have been refused for any of the following reasons:

• You submitted false documents or acted in bad faith;
• You did not have sufficient processes to comply with your sponsor duties;
• You have a relevant unspent criminal conviction;
• You are legally banned from becoming a company director;
• You do not have a trading presence in the UK;
• You failed to meet the criteria to be a sponsor under the category which you applied.

If you have received a Civil Penalty then you should not re-apply for 12 months from the date on which the penalty became payable. In some cases, you may need to wait five years.

Sponsor Licence Suspensions

If UK Visas and Immigration considers that you are breaching your sponsorship duties and pose a threat to immigration control, you may be subject to a sponsor licence suspension while they make further enquiries.

If your sponsor licence is suspended, you will not be able to sponsor new migrants and your business will be removed from the public register of sponsors for the suspension period. However, your current sponsored migrants will be unaffected.

Reasons for suspending a sponsor licence include, failing to keep appropriate records for sponsored migrants, unlawful salary variations or that an authorising officer is inappropriately qualified to assume his or her position.

You must continue to comply with all sponsor duties throughout the period of suspension. If your licence is due to expire during the period of suspension, you will still need to apply for a Sponsor Licence Renewal if you want to keep it.

Once UKVI has completed its enquiries, they may reinstate your licence, downgrade it or revoke it.

What else do I need to know about a Sponsor Licence Suspension?

If you have received notice that your sponsor licence has been suspended by UKVI, you will have 20 working days to seek a review of the decision. Your response must be made in writing and set out, with supporting evidence, which grounds you believe to be incorrect and why.

The Home Office will make a final decision based on your written response, so it is important that all mitigating arguments are clearly set out.

Once UKVI has completed its enquiries, they may reinstate your licence, downgrade it or revoke it.

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