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Sponsor Licensing: an overview

At White Rose Visas we make it our business to ensure that our corporate clients have the best possible opportunity to successfully employ the staff that they need, no matter what nationality, while meeting all legal and regulatory requirements. See our dedicated Employers page for more detail on the service that we provide.

In order for companies to employ non EU migrants, and for Universities to enroll non EU students, the organisation must have a Sponsor Licence, and then issue an official Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) or Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) for each applicable employee/ student.

What follows is a brief guide to the main aspects of the Home Office rules governing the Sponsor Licence system.

  • Employers must be registered as a sponsor with the Home Office in order to issue Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS). Registered employers can issue a CoS, which is then required for the migrant to make their immigration application.
  • The immigration cap brought in by the UK Government in April 2011 limits the number of Certificates of Sponsorship within Tier 2 (General). There are now two types of Certificates: Restricted (covered by the cap) and Unrestricted (not covered by the cap).
  • Because this cap only applies to Tier 2 (General) applications, Intra Company Transfers (ICT), Minister of Religion and Sportsperson routes are not affected
  • Unrestricted Certificates can be issued to those migrants resident within the UK who are eligible to switch into/ remain within Tier 2; and to those migrants with salaries of over 155,300
  • Restricted Certificates have an annual limit imposed. That limit (or Cap) is currently 20,700. Applications for Restricted Certificates are considered by a monthly panel. Applications must be submitted by the 5th of the month, in order to be considered on the 11th of the month. For the latest figures on Restricted Certificates, see the gov.uk site.
  • Restricted Certificates are needed for all Tier 2 (General) migrants applying from outside the UK, with the exception of those with salaries of over 155,300. As previously mentioned, Intra Company Transfer (ICT), Minister of Religion, and Sportsperson fall outside Tier 2 (General), so are not affected by the restriction.
  • Employers must ensure that an appropriate salary for the post is paid, so as to match the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code. We continue to see many refusals caused by employers not meeting this requirement, and it is therefore vital that this information is checked carefully before submitting a Tier 2 application.
  • The Resident Labour Market Test must usually be fulfilled. There are six main exceptions: where the post attracts a salary of over 155,300, is on the shortage occupation list, is an ICT, is an extension of the same employment with the same employer, is switching from Tier 1 (PSW), Tier 4 and certain other similar categories, and - finally - where post-graduate doctors or dentists in Speciality Training are applying for further leave under Tier 2 (General) to complete/ return to their training.
  • This is one of the most complex areas of Immigration Law. For this reason, a competent and pro-active Representative is a necessity for many employers who employ migrants, or who intend to do so. Please do contact White Rose Visas if you feel that you may require any advice or assistance with this process.

White Rose Visas are authorised by The Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner: Registration Number F201200452

White Rose Visas is a trading name of White Rose Visas Ltd, Registered in England & Wales, Company Number 7680391, Registered Office White Rose Visas Ltd, Wharf House, Victoria Quays, Wharf Street, Sheffield S2 5SY, United Kingdom