UK employers who hire non-UK workers must provide each person with what is known as a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). Today’s blog presents an overview of the certificates of sponsorship, provide information about how to get a sponsor licence, and details the certificate requirements for UK visa sponsorship eligibility. 

Certificate of Sponsorship

  • As mentioned above, a certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is provided by UK employers to every individual non-UK employees. If you are employee, it is your boss—not you—who applies for a certificate of sponsorship (for you). 
  • Certificates of sponsorship are not pieces of paper, but digital (electronic) certificates. 
  • Every employee receives a different certificate of sponsorship (each has an individual number for every individual employee, which they must submit when they apply for their work visa to the UK. 
  • A worker who receives a certificate of sponsorship can pursue a British visa in three months. That same employee cannot submit their visa application before three months prior to when their job starts (as per its listed commencement date on the CoS). 
  • UK visa sponsorship for employers includes two types of certificates: defined and undefined. 
  • Those who are submitting an application for a Skilled Worker visa from abroad should apply for a defined certificate; those who are submitting an application for a Skilled Worker visa from within the country should apply for an undefined certificate.  


  • UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) is the entity that overseas all certificate applications and which will determine your eligibility. 
  • According to the rules, the following types of people are prohibited from receive a sponsorship licence: 
    • Those with certain criminal backgrounds, including who have previously been charged with fraud and immigration related offenses.
    • Those who lost a previous sponsor’s licence recently (within the past year). 
  • More information about UK visa sponsorship and eligibility for the certificate is available here.

Type of sponsor licence

  • The type of licence an employer requires for his employee reflects whether said employee intends to fill a position for a significant amount of time or whether he intends to work for a short period. 
  • Types of licence therefore include the following main categories, which are further subdivided down into smaller categories: 
    • Worker licence: 
      • Intra-company visas
      • Minister of Religion 
      • Skilled Worker
      • Sportsperson
    • Temporary worker licence: 
      • Creative or Sporting Worker
      • Charity Worker
      • Religious Worker
      • Government Authorized Exchange Worker
      • International Agreement Worker
      • Seasonal Worker 

How to get a sponsor licence

  • The application process for a certificate of sponsorship depends on whether you are applying for a defined or undefined certificate. 
  • For example, an employer who applies for a defined certificate for his or her employee will do so via the Sponsorship Management System (SMS). 
  • Applicants who seek this specific UK visa sponsorship for employers should apply online, and can contact us here to help them with the application process.

Price of certificate

  • A certificate’s price depends on the nature of the employee. An individual Worker certificate is priced at £199, verses a Temporary Worker certificate, at £21.
  • No fee is applied to certificates for citizens of one of these countries: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden or Turkey.
  • Please note these costs are not inclusive of the immigration skills charge, which may apply to certain categories of workers. 

Sponsorship management roles

  • As an employer, you will have to assign a someone who already works for you to utilize the SMS tool and oversee the sponsorship process. 
  • Sponsorship management roles include the following: 
    • Authorizing officer 
    • Key contact
    • Level 1 user 
  • In addition to assigning sponsorship management roles, once you obtain your licence, you are responsible for ensuring that the non-UK employees you hire possess the requisite talents, accomplishments, and skillset to perform in their assigned role (you must also maintain paperwork which supports this fact). 
  • Employers must also strive to ensure that their sponsored foreign employers are upholding the terms of their visas, and inform UKVI in the event that they are not. In addition, employers must have a Human Resources mechanism enabling them to keep track of immigration statuses, and also report notable changes to their company (such as if it ceases trading). 

Sponsor licence rating

  • There are only two rates for licences: “A” and “B”.
  • An employer who is approved for a certificate will receive a license rating of A. You must obtain an A rating in order to extend certificates to your employees. An A rating will also put your company on the publicly-available sponsor registry list. 
  • An employer who loses his A rating will receive a downgrade to a B, and lose his ability to apply for certificates as a result. 
  • UK Visas and Immigration (UKVIS) will present a business which has been downgraded with a pathway for them to re-obtain their A rating. This “action plan” costs £1,476; those who do not submit payment at least 10 days after receiving notification of their B rating will have their licence completely revoked. 
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