Start typing and hit "Enter" to search.

Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) UK

A Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is an electronic document that proves that a licenced UK employer or educational establishment has offered a job or place of study to a suitable and genuine migrant.

Contact us today on 020 3744 2797 for assistance on business immigration and sponsorship.

Get In Touch


Some of our Happy Clients
  • immigration solicitors near me
  • immigration solicitors near me
  • immigration solicitors near me
  • immigration solicitors near me

What is a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)?

A Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is an electronic document that proves that a licenced UK employer or educational establishment has offered a job or place of study to a suitable and genuine migrant. It contains the details of the person it is granted to, the details of the sponsoring organisation, a start and expiry date, and a unique reference number. Candidates must have a CoS before they can apply for a work or study visa. The CoS number is used by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to check that visa applicants have a valid and suitable CoS for the type of visa requested.

You will need a CoS if you are applying for any of the following types of visa:

By issuing a CoS, the sponsor is confirming that the candidate meets the conditions of the visa they will require. In the case of employment, by providing a CoS to an overseas worker, the employer is confirming that the person has the skills necessary, the job being offered meets the required skill level, and the salary on offer meets the minimum requirement. In the case of schools, colleges, and universities, a CoS is only granted to a suitable candidate for a genuine place on a course of study.

As the UK’s leading immigration and global mobility specialists, Reiss Edwards’ immigration lawyers provide tailored solutions to UK sponsoring organisations. We can advise on your:

  • Global mobility strategy – ensuring you can move staff from anywhere in the world to where they need to be as quickly as possible
  • Sponsor licence application
  • Sponsor licence systems and processes
  • Sponsor licence compliance
  • Sponsorship Management System (SMS) needs (including assigning of CoS)
  • Mock UKVI compliance audits
  • Licence downgrades and revocations

Speak to one of our specialist business immigration solicitors today on 020 3744 2797.

Types of Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS)

In December 2020, the Home Office changed the immigration rules to remove the use of “restricted” and “unrestricted” CoS. These were replaced with “defined’ and “undefined” CoS.

Defined CoS

Defined certificates are specifically for Skilled Worker visa candidates who are applying from outside the UK. If you wish to issue a defined CoS, you will need to apply through the online Sponsorship Management System (SMS) once you have your sponsor licence. If the application is approved by UKVI, it can then be provided to the overseas worker, allowing them to apply for a visa. Applications for defined CoSs are typically processed within one working day.

Undefined CoS

Undefined certificates are for Skilled Worker visa candidates who are applying from inside the UK and all other sponsored visa applications. When applying for your sponsor licence as a sponsoring organisation, you will be asked to estimate how many undefined certificates you will need in the first year of sponsorship. It is possible to increase this number by submitting a request through your SMS.

How to get a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)?

Before a company or educational establishment can grant a CoS, they must have a valid sponsor licence and access to the sponsor management system (SMS). In addition, you must be an A-rated sponsor licence holder. B-rated sponsors cannot issue new CoSs.

All requests for Certificates of Sponsorship are processed through the Sponsorship Management System (SMS). As explained above, you will only be given access to this system once you have been granted your sponsor licence.

Only level 1 or level 2 users can request and issue Certificates of Sponsorship through the Sponsorship Management System (SMS). The process differs depending on if you need a defined or undefined CoS.

Apply for a defined CoS

To apply for a defined CoS, you will need to:

  1. Login to your SMS as a level 1 or level 2 user
  2. Once in the SMS, from the “Workers” screen, select “Defined CoS”
  3. From the “Apply for defined CoS” screen, click “Apply for defined CoS”
  4. Enter the number of defined CoS you require
  5. Enter the details of the employment
  6. Check the details you have entered are correct
  7. Tick the box to agree to the terms and click submit
  8. Your application will normally be processed within one working day

Creating and assigning a CoS

Sponsoring organisations need to create and assign CoSs within the Sponsorship Management System (SMS). To create a CoS, users need to (please note this is the process to create a single CoS; there is a separate process to create a batch of CoSs):

  1. Login to your SMS as a level 1 or level 2 user
  2. Once in the SMS, from the “Workers” screen, select “Create and Assign”
  3. Select from the list “create new single certificate”
  4. Enter details of the candidate and then “save”
  5. Click “Assign”
  6. Check the details you have entered are correct
  7. Click “Assign CoS”
  8. Pay the CoS fee and immigration skills charge
  9. The CoS will then be issued – you will see the unique reference number on the screen

Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) allocation

CoS allocation means that you will have a maximum number of certificates that you can issue in one year. When you first apply for your sponsor licence, the Home Office (UKVI) will ask you to estimate how many Undefined CoS you will need in your first year (in each route you have a licence for). As part of this process, you will be asked to justify the number you think you will require. If your request is approved, this will be your CoS allocation for your first year. You will have 12 months to use your allocation. This can then be renewed each year.

It is highly advantageous to seek guidance from an immigration Solicitor when justifying your initial requirement, as UKVI may reduce your allocation if you do not provide sufficient details. Some of the factors they will bear in mind include:

  • How many workers you employ
  • The type of business
  • The extent of the business you conduct
  • How long you have been trading

Your CoS year will depend on your circumstances as follows:

  • from 6th April - only if you had a Tier 2 (General) or Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) licence on 30th November 2020, which was switched to a Skilled Worker or Intra-Company route licence on 1st December 2020 and your allocation renewal is automated, or
  • 1 year from the date your allocation renewal request was granted in 2021 and, in subsequent years – only if you had a Tier 2 (General) or Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) licence on 30th November 2020 and you switched to a Skilled Worker or Intra-Company licence on 1st December 2020, and your allocation renewal is not automated, or
  • 1 year from the date your licence was granted and, in subsequent years, 1 year from the date an allocation renewal request is granted – in all other cases.

Any CoSs that are not used will be removed from allocation.

At the end of each CoS (within 3 months of the expiry), you can apply for a ‘follow-on’ allocation for the number of CoS you will need for the next year. Alternatively, you may be set up on the SMS to receive an automatic annual allocation.

Can you request to increase the CoS allocation as an employer?

Yes, if necessary, you can apply to increase your CoS allocation by using the SMS system. Again, you will need to justify the reasons for the increase, and you may be asked for additional proof.

To request an increase in your CoS allocation, you will need to:

  1. Login to your SMS as a level 1 or level 2 user
  2. From the “Licence summary, applications and services” screen, select “Request CoS/CAS allocation increase”
  3. On the “Request additional CoS or CAS” screen, choose “Add a request” next to the route you wish to increase the allocation for
  4. Enter the number requested and explain why you need them.
  5. Select “Submit”

Certificate of Sponsorship Costs

Each time you issue a new CoS, you will need to pay a CoS fee. This depends on the type of CoS being issued, as follows:

Sponsor licence type

Cost for each CoS issued

Worker

£199

Temporary Worker

£21

International Sportsperson: CoS > 12 months

£199

International Sportsperson: CoS 12 months or less

£21

You may also need to pay the immigration skills charge if sponsoring through the Skilled Worker or Intra-Company Transfer visa routes, as follows:

Visa duration

Small or charitable sponsors

Medium or large sponsors

First-year

£364

£1,000

Each additional 6 months

£182

£500

How long does it take to get a defined Certificate of Sponsorship?

Applicants usually get a defined CoS within 1 working day of submitting a request. As UKVI states, this may take longer if they need to carry out further checks or request additional information before they can make a final decision.

Making Changes to a Certificate of Sponsorship once assigned

If you have noticed a mistake on an assigned CoS, you can make a minor correction by adding a ‘sponsor note’. If the mistake is more significant, you will need to cancel the assigned CoS and create a new one. For more details, see our article, Can I Make Amends to a Certificate of Sponsorship Once Assigned?

Cancelling an issued Certificate of Sponsorship

If an employee leaves, changes job (to a job outside the current SOC code) or moves to a new employer, you will need to cancel their Certificate of Sponsorship. This must be done within five days of being notified of the change in circumstances.

Due to the structure of the visa system, an employee can only have one live certificate at a time, which means their original certificate must be cancelled before a fresh one can be issued.

Reiss Edwards Awards

O.L

Andy Tieu is absolutely amazing.

As a lawyer myself I can categorically say that he knows his stuff, gentle, responsive, cares about you and not just about the money, very professional.
I mean I can go on and on!

Andy and the entire team at Reiss Edwards are amazing!

Thanks again Andy.

Kiran Sardar


I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this professional as there are lots of emotions always involved in each and every case.

The way they dealt with my case during COVID19 Situation is highly appreciable. I would definitely recommend Joe D. and Anna F. Anna is an amazing lady, her patience is beyond my words.

Her hard work and professionalism have no boundaries. She is the right person for all type of cases.

Thanks to Anna and Joe for all your support and guidance which helped me fulfill my dream.

I would say Reiss Edwards is lucky to have Joe D. and Anna F. Great job Reiss Edwards.

thanks once again. Anna you’re a Gem and a Star.

Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was outstanding. Handling the case with constant correspondence over a lengthy, lockdown delayed 7-month application process. Her expert advice guided us successfully through some difficult times as a result of COVID-19. Some of the best service I have received for any service ever! Often replying to emails late at night, offering to send additional correspondence to the home office and going above and beyond in handling our case! Well done and thank you Reiss Edwards and thank you Anna!!".

Isaac .T

"Professional service. I was very impressed with the fact that my ILR application was successful 6 weeks after the submission amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. I also think the portfolio put together by the team at Reiss Edwards has played a big part in the quick turnaround of my application".

Reiss Edwards Reviews

O.L

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

Read More

Kiran Sardar

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

Read More

Cheyam Shaked

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

Read More

Isaac .T

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

Read More
Back to Top