CoS for the UK Skilled Worker Visa

CoS for the UK Skilled Worker Visa

Overview of CoS for the UK Skilled Worker Visa

In the context of the UK Skilled Visa, “CoS” stands for Certificate of Sponsorship. This is a vital component for individuals looking to apply for a UK Skilled Worker Visa, previously known as the Tier 2 (General) work visa. The Certificate of Sponsorship is not a physical document but an electronic record. Each CoS has a unique reference number which the applicant needs to include in their visa application.

A CoS is issued by a UK employer who holds a valid Sponsor Licence, authorizing them to sponsor non-UK resident workers. Before issuing a CoS, the employer must demonstrate that the role they wish to fill cannot be filled by a resident worker (though this requirement has been relaxed for many roles on the Shortage Occupation List) and in most cases, they must also conduct a Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT).

There are two main types of Certificate of Sponsorship:

  1. Unrestricted CoS: These are used for individuals already in the UK, for example, those switching from another visa category to the Skilled Worker visa within the UK, or for roles listed on the Shortage Occupation List.

  2. Restricted CoS: These are subject to a monthly cap and are used for individuals applying from outside the UK. This category applies mainly to workers who will earn less than the threshold for unrestricted CoS and for family members of Tier 4 visa holders switching to a Skilled Worker visa.

To apply for a Skilled Worker Visa, having a valid CoS is just one requirement. Applicants must also:

  • Score enough points based on their salary, skills, and qualifications.
  • Prove their knowledge of English.
  • Have enough personal savings to support themselves when they arrive in the UK.
  • Show they can travel and their travel history over the last 5 years.
  • Provide a criminal record certificate from any country they have lived in for 12 months or more over the last 10 years if they’ll be working with vulnerable people.

The introduction of the Skilled Worker Visa is part of the UK’s points-based immigration system, designed to attract skilled workers who can contribute to the UK’s economy. Employers wishing to sponsor workers under this visa must ensure they are licensed to do so and that they comply with all sponsorship duties, including maintaining appropriate records and reporting duties to the Home Office.

Understanding the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) in the Context of the UK Skilled Worker Visa

Navigating the complexities of the UK Skilled Worker Visa can be challenging for both employers and prospective employees. A crucial element in this process is the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), an electronic record, not a physical document, that is essential for visa applications under this category. This article aims to elucidate the concept of the CoS, its types, application procedures, and the recent updates in 2024, which are pivotal for both parties involved.

The Essence of CoS

A Certificate of Sponsorship is a mandatory requirement for individuals applying for a Skilled Worker Visa, facilitating their eligibility to work in the UK in a specific job with an approved employer. The CoS contains information about the job role, salary, and the employer, acting as a validation that the individual has been offered a genuine position that meets the skilled work criteria of the UK immigration rules​​​​​.

Types of CoS: Defined and Undefined

Certificates of Sponsorship are categorized into two types: defined and undefined. Defined CoS are allocated to individuals applying from outside the UK, while undefined CoS cater to those applying from within the UK, including extensions and switches from different visa categories. Employers must request defined certificates through the Sponsorship Management System (SMS), and these are usually approved within a working day, subject to the necessity of further checks​.

The 2024 Updates

Significant updates have taken effect in 2024, impacting the Skilled Worker Visa scheme, especially concerning salary thresholds and the Shortage Occupation List. The minimum salary for sponsoring a Skilled Worker has been increased to £38,700, although this does not apply to Health and Care visas and certain other professions on a national pay scale. This revision aims to align with the median full-time salary data, affecting both new applications and those looking to extend or change employers under this route​.

Furthermore, the Shortage Occupation List, now rebranded as the “Immigration Salary List,” has seen modifications. The list outlines occupations deemed to have urgent labour shortages in the UK. From late spring 2024, employers will no longer be able to hire immigrant workers at 20% below the going rate if their role is on this list, signifying a shift towards ensuring that salaries reflect the current labour market needs​​​.

Application Process and Costs

The application process for a CoS is integral to the visa application journey. Employers must accurately select the correct Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code, as this plays a pivotal role in the success of the sponsorship. Failing to do so may result in application delays or refusals. The cost associated with assigning a CoS includes the Immigration Skills Charge, which varies depending on the size of the sponsoring company, and a standard fee of £239 per certificate​​​.

In light of these updates and requirements, it is imperative for both employers and prospective employees to stay informed and prepare adequately for the application process. This includes understanding the nuances of the CoS, aligning with the revised salary thresholds, and navigating the sponsorship management system efficiently.

The evolution of the UK Skilled Worker Visa and the Certificate of Sponsorship system reflects the UK’s aim to attract skilled labor that meets the economic needs of the country while ensuring that immigration policies remain aligned with the labor market’s demands. As these changes unfold, staying abreast of the latest information and requirements will be key to successfully navigating the UK’s skilled immigration route.

How to Secure a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) for the UK Skilled Worker Visa

Securing a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is a critical step for non-UK residents seeking employment in the UK under the Skilled Worker Visa. This part of the article guides both employers and applicants through the process of obtaining a CoS, outlining essential steps, requirements, and strategies to enhance the chances of successful visa applications.

Understanding the CoS Application Process

  1. Employer Sponsorship License: Before anything, an employer must hold a valid Sponsorship License issued by the UK Home Office. This license demonstrates the employer’s eligibility to hire non-UK residents. Applying for a sponsorship license involves providing detailed information about the business, the types of workers they intend to sponsor, and proving that the business is genuine and capable of meeting its sponsorship duties​​​.

  2. Choosing the Right CoS Type: Depending on whether the employee is applying from inside or outside the UK, the employer will need to apply for either a defined or undefined CoS through the Sponsorship Management System (SMS). Defined CoS are for those outside the UK, and undefined CoS cater to individuals within the UK or making a switch from another visa category​.

  3. Filling the CoS Application: Employers must accurately complete the CoS application, including the job title, SOC code, salary, and other relevant details that match the role and comply with the visa requirements. It’s crucial to ensure that the offered salary meets or exceeds the minimum threshold and that the job is at the appropriate skill level​​​.

  4. Allocation and Assignment of CoS: Once the application is submitted, defined CoS are typically processed within one working day, though this can extend if further checks are required. After receiving the CoS, the employer must assign it to the prospective employee, who then uses the CoS number as part of their visa application​.

Key Considerations for Employers and Applicants

  • Compliance with Salary Thresholds: Employers must offer a salary that meets the new minimum salary requirements or the going rate for the occupation, whichever is higher. This ensures compliance with the updated regulations effective from April 2024, where the minimum salary threshold for a Skilled Worker has been raised significantly​.

  • Accuracy in Job Description and SOC Code Selection: The job role must be accurately described, and the correct SOC code must be chosen to reflect this. Failure to select the appropriate SOC code can lead to application delays or refusals​.

  • Timeliness of Application: The timing of the CoS assignment and subsequent visa application is critical. Employees must apply for their visa within three months from the date the CoS is assigned, and not more than three months before their job start date​.

Strategies to Enhance Application Success

  • Early Preparation: Start the sponsorship license and CoS application process well in advance to accommodate any unforeseen delays or requirements for additional information by the Home Office.

  • Professional Advice: Considering the complexity of immigration laws and frequent updates, seeking professional advice from immigration lawyers or consultants can be invaluable in navigating the process successfully.

  • Staying Informed on Changes: Both employers and applicants should stay updated on any changes to immigration policies, salary thresholds, and shortage occupation lists to ensure compliance and increase the likelihood of a successful application​​​.

In conclusion, securing a CoS is a multifaceted process that requires careful attention to detail, thorough preparation, and compliance with UK immigration policies. By following these guidelines, employers can effectively sponsor skilled workers, contributing to the growth and success of their businesses, while applicants can realize their goal of working in the UK.

What is the Process through Which a UK Employer Issues CoS for the UK Skilled Worker Visa – A Step by Step Guide

Issuing a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) for the UK Skilled Worker Visa is a critical process that UK employers must navigate to hire talent from outside the UK. This detailed guide walks through the step-by-step process, ensuring compliance with UK immigration laws and facilitating a smoother journey for both employers and prospective employees.

Step 1: Obtain a Sponsor Licence

Preparation: Before issuing a CoS, an employer must hold a valid Sponsor Licence, which grants permission to legally employ non-UK residents under the Skilled Worker Visa. Applying for this licence involves demonstrating your business’s legitimacy, HR capabilities, and adherence to sponsorship duties.

Application Process: Complete the online application form on the UK Government’s website. You’ll need to provide supporting documents that prove your business’s authenticity and capability to meet sponsorship responsibilities. The decision typically takes about eight weeks, and a successful application grants you access to the Sponsorship Management System (SMS)​​​​.

Step 2: Determine the Type of CoS Needed

Defined vs. Undefined CoS: Decide whether you need a ‘defined’ or ‘undefined’ CoS. Defined CoS are for employees applying from outside the UK, while undefined CoS are for those within the UK or switching from another visa type. This decision influences how you proceed within the SMS​.

Step 3: Use the Sponsorship Management System (SMS)

Accessing SMS: With your Sponsor Licence, you’ll have access to the SMS, where you can manage your sponsorship duties, including issuing CoS. The system allows for tracking and managing all sponsorship activities.

Requesting CoS Allocation: For a defined CoS, you’ll need to request allocation through the SMS, specifying the number of certificates you require based on your recruitment needs. Undefined CoS allocation is usually given based on your estimated needs during the Sponsor Licence application​.

Step 4: Issue the Certificate of Sponsorship

Filling Out CoS Details: When issuing a CoS, ensure accurate entry of job details, including the role, salary, SOC code, and start date. The job must meet the skill level and salary requirements for the Skilled Worker Visa. It’s essential to use the correct SOC code to reflect the job’s duties and responsibilities accurately​​​.

Assigning CoS to the Worker: Once the CoS is prepared, assign it to your prospective employee. The CoS number is then used by the employee in their Skilled Worker Visa application.

Step 5: Supporting the Visa Application

Documentation and Compliance: While the employee prepares their visa application, you might need to provide additional support or documentation, especially regarding the job offer or salary details. It’s crucial to ensure that all information matches the details provided in the CoS.

Guidance and Communication: Keep in close contact with your prospective employee throughout their visa application process. Offering guidance on application procedures or required documents can help prevent delays or issues.

Key Considerations

  • Compliance with Salary Thresholds: Ensure the salary offered not only meets the minimum requirement for the role according to the UK Visa and Immigration guidelines but also reflects the latest changes and updates, such as the increased threshold in 2024​.
  • Accuracy and Timeliness: The accuracy in filling out the CoS and timeliness in issuing it are paramount. The CoS must be used by the employee to apply for their Skilled Worker Visa within three months of its issuance​.
  • Stay Updated: Immigration rules and policies are subject to change. Staying informed about the latest requirements and updates can prevent compliance issues and facilitate a smoother process for both the employer and the prospective employee​​​.


Issuing a Certificate of Sponsorship is a pivotal step in hiring non-UK residents under the Skilled Worker Visa. By obtaining a Sponsor Licence, accurately determining the type of CoS needed, and meticulously completing and assigning the CoS, employers can navigate this process effectively. Employers must stay vigilant about compliance with immigration laws, maintaining accuracy in job and salary details, and providing support to prospective employees throughout their visa application process. This comprehensive approach ensures a seamless integration of skilled workers into the UK workforce, contributing to the success and growth of businesses while adhering to the UK’s immigration policies.


Q1: Can a UK employer issue a CoS for any job position?

A: No, the job position must meet the eligibility criteria for the Skilled Worker Visa, including being at a certain skill level and paying the appropriate salary threshold according to the job’s SOC code.


Q2: How long is a Certificate of Sponsorship valid once it has been issued?

A: A Certificate of Sponsorship is valid for 3 months from the date it is assigned to the worker. The worker must apply for their Skilled Worker Visa within this timeframe.


Q3: Can a single CoS be used for multiple visa applications?

A: No, a CoS is unique to each individual worker and can only be used for one visa application. If the application is denied, a new CoS must be issued for a reapplication.


Q4: Is it possible to amend a CoS after it has been issued?

A: Minor corrections may be possible by contacting UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), but major changes usually require the issuance of a new CoS.


Q5: How do salary requirements for the Skilled Worker Visa affect the CoS?

A: The salary stated on the CoS must meet or exceed the general salary threshold or the going rate for the occupation, whichever is higher, to be eligible under the Skilled Worker Visa category.


Q6: Can an employer issue a CoS if they have never sponsored a worker before?

A: Yes, but the employer must first apply for and obtain a Sponsor Licence, demonstrating they meet the necessary requirements to sponsor workers.


Q7: Are there any restrictions on the number of CoS an employer can issue?

A: There may be limits on defined CoS for workers applying from outside the UK. Undefined CoS allocations are based on the employer’s estimated need during the Sponsor Licence application.


Q8: How does an employer apply for a defined CoS?

A: Employers apply through the Sponsorship Management System (SMS) by providing specific details about the job and the prospective employee.


Q9: What are the consequences for employers if they misuse the CoS?

A: Misusing a CoS can lead to revocation of the Sponsor Licence, fines, and prohibition from sponsoring future workers.


Q10: Can a CoS be transferred to another employer?

A: No, a CoS is specific to the employer who issued it and cannot be transferred. If the worker changes employers, a new CoS must be issued.


Q11: What happens if an employer’s Sponsor Licence expires before issuing a CoS?

A: The employer cannot issue a CoS until they renew their Sponsor Licence. It’s crucial to maintain an active licence to continue sponsoring workers.


Q12: Can a CoS be issued for part-time positions?

A: Yes, a CoS can be issued for part-time positions as long as the job meets the salary and skill level requirements pro-rata.


Q13: Are there any specific industries or sectors that cannot issue a CoS?

A: Generally, any industry can issue a CoS if the job and employer meet the visa requirements. However, certain limitations may apply to jobs that do not meet the skill or salary threshold.


Q14: How do changes in immigration policy affect the issuance of a CoS?

A: Employers must stay updated on immigration policies, as changes may affect CoS eligibility, salary thresholds, and the types of jobs that can be sponsored.


Q15: Is there a cap on the salary an employer can offer for a position requiring a CoS?

A: There is no upper cap on the salary; however, it must at least meet the minimum required salary threshold or the going rate for the occupation.


Q16: Can a CoS be issued for a job not on the Shortage Occupation List?

A: Yes, a CoS can be issued for jobs not on the Shortage Occupation List, provided the job meets other eligibility criteria like skill level and salary.


Q17: How does the Shortage Occupation List impact the CoS process?

A: Jobs on the Shortage Occupation List may have different requirements for salaries and are given priority in terms of allocation limits for defined CoS.


Q18: What documentation is required from the employer to issue a CoS?

A: Employers need to provide details about their business, the job role, salary, and evidence of the recruitment process, among other requirements.


Q19: Can an employer issue a CoS for a role with a flexible start date?

A: Yes, but the CoS must specify the earliest possible start date, and the visa application should align with this date.


Q20: What steps should an employer take if they accidentally issue a CoS with incorrect information?

A: The employer should contact UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) as soon as possible to rectify the mistake. Minor errors may be corrected through communication with UKVI, but significant inaccuracies might necessitate withdrawing the CoS and issuing a new one. This action should be taken carefully to ensure it complies with UKVI’s guidelines and does not negatively impact the prospective employee’s visa application process.


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