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Processing Times For Restricted And Unrestricted COS

For those looking to work in the UK, the Tier 2 General Visa offers a convenient option for migrants who are looking for employment in the UK. To apply for a Tier 2 General Visa, you will first need to gain a Certificate of Sponsorship from your future employer. The job role and the rate of pay will determine the certificate that you need to process your visa application.

There are two types of Certificate of Sponsorship:

  • The restricted COS and
  • The unrestricted COS.

Each of these certificates has its unique characteristics. In this article, we will take a look at the two options to see which of the certificates most likely applies to you. We will also aim to give you an idea of how long the processing time for your visa will be taking the current conditions into account. Please remember, all waiting times are estimates, based on the best information available. If your application is complex, you may likely wait longer.

Learn more about the Difference Between Restricted and Unrestricted Certificate of Sponsorship

How Long Does It Take For A Restricted COS Application To Be Processed?

The restricted Certificate of Sponsorship is the main option for the vast majority of Tier 2 General Visa applications. The certificate is restricted in nature due to the number of certificates that are issued each month. As there is a huge number of applications (and the number of officers that there are to process them), applications are capped at 20,700 per year, shared equally over the 12 months of the year. As well as the application cap, there is also a requirement for employers to apply by the 5th day of the month to be allocated a certificate by the 11th. If an intended employer misses this deadline, the application will process in the following month.

As far as your Tier 2 General Visa application is concerned, processing should take around three weeks. If you are in a hurry and already have a Certificate of Sponsorship, there is the option of either the Priority Service (5-day processing for £500) or the Super Priority Service (which processes as early as the next working day for £800).

How Long Does It Take For An Unrestricted COS Application To Be Processed?

The unrestricted Certificate of Sponsorship is for either those who are already in the UK or those who are taking a job with a wage of £159,600 or higher. If the applicant is either someone already in the UK or a high earner, there is no monthly restriction on the number of certificates that can be issued monthly. Due to recent changes, Tier 4 Student Visa holders who have studied in the UK can use the unrestricted COS route to apply for a Tier 2 General Visa. This is a stark U-turn by the government and means that the UK can gain from keeping graduates in the UK for the long-term.

When it comes to your Tier 2 visa application, the processing time should take about three weeks, the same time as those using a restricted COS. If you wish to speed up the processing time of your Tier two visa and you already have a Certificate of Sponsorship, you can always pay for enhanced services. There is the option of either the Priority Service (5-day processing for £500) or the Super Priority Service (which processes as early as the next working day for £800).

What Happens If I Change My Mind And Wish To Work For Someone Else?

You can decide to switch to a different employer during your stay in the UK on a Tier 2 visa. To do this, you will need to apply for a job role with a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence holder. Once you are issued a Certificate of Sponsorship by your new employer you can then apply for a new Tier 2 General Visa based on your recently acquired certificate. This is because your Certificate of Sponsorship is given to you by a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence holder (your employer), which means you will only be able to use it to work for them.

When you change jobs to a different employer, you will need to ask your Tier 2 sponsor to cancel your Certificate of Sponsorship. Within the next five days, when your current sponsor cancels the certificate, your potential employer can then apply for a new certificate. If your current sponsor refuses or does not cancel the original certificate, you will need to contact the Sponsor Licensing Unit to make your complaint.

Due to the structure of the visa system, you can only have one live certificate at a time, which means your original certificate must be cancelled before a fresh one can be issued. You will need to plan properly so you do not infringe on the visa rules, so ensure that you give your current employer sufficient notice and move to your new employer. If you do not plan properly you may end up needing to leave the country. If you need any help with the Tier 2 General Visa route, feel free to get in touch with our immigration solicitors so we can help.

Related Article: When to hand in your Notice if you decide to leave your current employer for a new one

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O.L

"Andy Tieu is absolutely amazing, as a lawyer myself I can categorically say tha...

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Kiran Sardar

"I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this profes...

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Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was ou...

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Isaac .T

"Professional service. I was very impressed with the fact that my ILR applicatio...

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