Certificates of Sponsorship

Sponsor Visa


As an employer, you must assign a certificate of sponsorship to each foreign worker you employ. This is an electronic record, not a physical document. Each certificate has its own number which a worker can use to apply for a visa.

When you assign the certificate to a worker, they must use it to apply for their visa within 3 months. They must not apply for their visa more than 3 months before the start date of the job listed on the certificate.

You may need to check if your worker needs an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate before you assign a certificate of sponsorship.

The sponsor licence is valid for 10 years and you must perform your responsibilities as a sponsor, else you will lose your licence.

Responsibilities include:

  • (a) monitoring your employees’ immigration status.
  • (b) keeping copies of relevant documents for each employee, including passport and right to work information.
  • (c) tracking and recording employees’ attendance.
  • (d) keeping employee contact details up to date.
  • (e) reporting to UKVI if there is a problem, for example if your employee stops coming to work.



How much you pay for the licence depends on if you are a small or large company.

If you are a small sponsor if at least 2 of the below apply:

  • (a) You have an annual turnover is £10.2 million or less.
  • (b) Your total assets are worth £5.1 million or less.
  • (c) You have 50 employees or fewer.

Sponsor licence fee for small or charitable sponsors – £536

Sponsor licence fee for medium or large sponsors – £1,476

There is the Immigration Skills Charge paid when issuing as CoS to certain categories of Skilled Workers. The amount paid depends on the type of sponsor you are.

For small or charitable sponsors:

First 12 months of sponsorship – £364

Each additional 6 months – £182

For medium or large sponsors:

First 12 months of sponsorship- £1,000

Each additional 6 months – £500


Types of businesses eligible to apply for a licence

Any type of organisation can apply for a sponsorship licence you are trading and have a presence in the UK.


How long must you be in operation?

It does not matter how long you have been in operation and trading in the UK. If you are a new company and  trading for less than 18 months, you can also apply for a licence.


Processing time

It can take up to 8 weeks for a decision on your application for a sponsorship licence to be made. 

You will also have the option, for an extra fee to get a decision within 10 working days. This service is limited to a small daily number on a first come, first served basis.


Defined certificates

These are for people applying on a Skilled Worker visa from outside the UK.

You must apply for defined certificates for these workers through the sponsorship management system (SMS). You’ll get access to the SMS when you get your licence.


When you get the certificate

Applications are usually approved within one working day. It may take longer if UKVI need to carry out further checks on the information in your application.

Defined certificates will appear in your SMS account once they have been approved. You can then assign them to a worker.


Undefined certificates

These are for Skilled Workers applying from inside the UK, and applicants on all other visas.

When you apply for your licence you’ll be asked to estimate how many undefined certificates you’ll need for Workers and Temporary Workers in the first year.


If you’re sponsoring a UK Expansion Worker

You’ll only be able to assign one certificate of sponsorship, which must be assigned to the authorising officer so they can enter the UK.

Once they’ve got their visa, you can upgrade your licence to an A-rating and request additional certificates of sponsorship using the sponsorship management system (SMS).


Certificate costs

You’ll need to pay a fee when you assign a certificate to a worker. How much a certificate will cost depends on the type of sponsor licence you have.

Type of licence                                                                                                   Cost per Certificate

Worker (except workers on the International Sportsperson visa) £239
Temporary Worker £25
International Sportsperson – where the certificate of sponsorship is assigned for more than 12 months £239
International Sportsperson – where the certificate of sponsorship is assigned for 12 months or less £25

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