A Certificate of Sponsorship is required for all jobs that use the Tier 2 General Visa as the route of entry to the UK. The Certificate of Sponsorship provides the Home Office with the evidence required namely, you will have a job to start when you move to the UK, and that job requires someone from outside of the European Economic Area to fill the vacancy (i.e. there is no one locally who can perform the same role). There are, however, two different types of Certificate of Sponsorship that are available in the UK: the Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship and the Unrestricted Certificate of Sponsorship. In this article, we are going to break down the difference between these two certificates to help both employers and employees know which route is best.
An Unrestricted Certificate of Sponsorship allows employers to hire those currently in or outside of the UK, but who are looking to take on a role with an annual salary in excess of £159,600. Alternatively, they will be looking for those who will be taking an inward investment post. Due to the nature of these roles, it is not necessary to subject them to the same conditions as you would for one that attracts a lesser salary. These positions are usually very high level (such as directors) and therefore have different eligibility criteria attached.
There are still some restrictions, however. For those that are currently based in the UK, there is the option to use an Unrestricted Certificate of Sponsorship but with one major exception: the dependants of Tier 4 Student Visa holders. For these dependants, they must use a Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship and be included in the monthly cap.
There are some distinct differences between the Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship and the Unrestricted Certificate of Sponsorship. The Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship requires you to make an application for one of the positions available under the monthly cap (there is an annual cap on Tier 2 General Visa Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship of 20,700 which is divided up into 12-month chunks). This normally involves making an application before the 5th of the month to get a place around the 11th. The employer will also need to apply the Resident Labour Market Test to a role that uses the Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship route. This means that they will need to verify there are no domestic workers who can fulfil their requirement.
The Unrestricted Certificate of Sponsorship, however, is much more lenient, due to the applicant either already being based in the UK or earning in excess of £159,600 per year. For this route, the employer will simply allocate their Unrestricted Certificate of Sponsorship to the prospective employee, making the whole process significantly more straightforward.
This depends upon whose point of view you see this from. If you are a prospective employee, there is likely to be little in the way of difference from a time perspective, but for an employer, the time difference is going to be very significant. Firstly, they will need to apply the Resident Labour Market Test to the role. This means the job will need to be advertised on at least 2 separate job boards (1 of which is the government's own) and the employer will need to keep records for why any domestic applicants were unsuitable.
The employer will also need to apply for the Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship (if being used) by the 5th of the month to gain acceptance by the 11th. If there are no more positions available, they will need to wait for the following month to try again. This could mean several months from the creation of the role to the Tier 2 General Visa holder having the position.
No, the Resident Labour Market Test only applies to roles using Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship. The reasoning for this is straightforward: the applicant (for an Unrestricted Certificate of Sponsorship) is either already in the country or will be taking a job paying over £159,600 per year. From the UK Visas and Immigration perspective, it makes complete sense to give these applicants a straightforward route to staying in the UK.
It may seem unfair to have almost a two-class system, but in the case of those already in the UK, it seems pointless to make them enter the same system as those who are coming from the outside. By already being in the country, they have already been somewhat assessed and are contributing to the country. As for those who are earning over £159,600, the funds they will add in the way of tax mean they are extremely sought after by the British government. While this may not seem entirely fair, it is the system we have.
If you need more help with a Tier 2 General Visa query as either an employer, employee or even prospective applicant, then please get in touch. Our experienced Immigration solicitors can help with any and all queries and can help you to stay compliant within the laws.
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