To sponsor a migrant worker under the Skilled Worker Visa category, companies must hold a valid Sponsor Licence in the Skilled Worker category. The company must issue a Certificate of Sponsorship to the worker in question for use in their Skilled Worker visa application.
Types of Certificates of Sponsorship
Under the Skilled Worker scheme, there are two different kinds of Certificate of Sponsorship – Undefined Certificates of Sponsorship (UCoS) and Defined Certificates of Sponsorship (DCoS). It is very important for sponsoring companies to ensure that the correct kind of Certificate of Sponsorship is obtained for each worker they wish to sponsor, as usage of the incorrect kind of Certificate can lead to the associated visa application being refused.
There are no limits on how many Certificates of Sponsorship a company may obtain, provided each Certificate meets with Home Office requirements (such as minimum salary requirements), and the sponsoring company can justify its need to sponsor a worker for the employment specified.
Undefined Certificates of Sponsorship (UCoS)
UCoS are used where an organisation wishes to sponsor a migrant worker who is already resident in the UK and is eligible to apply for a Skilled Worker visa from inside the UK. For example, perhaps they are already working for another company on a Skilled Worker visa, or they have recently completed studies in the UK holding a Student visa.
It is possible to apply for any required UCoS as part of a Sponsor Licence application. Once a Licence is in place, it is possible to apply for any UCoS needed on an ad hoc basis via the Sponsor Management System (SMS).
The Home Office also permits companies to have an annual allocation of UCoS, if the company believes (and the Home Office is satisfied) they are likely to have need of UCoS during the upcoming year. To this end, once a year, the Home Office will write to sponsoring organisations annually to enquire if they require an UCoS allocation for the year. Regardless of whether a company responds to this enquiry, any requisite UCoS can be applied for when the need arises.
It can take the Home Office up to 18 weeks to issue an UCoS allocation. However, a Priority Service is available for a fee of £200, which usually results in the UCoS being issued in around one week.
Once issued the UCoS will be available for use for a 12-month period, after which it will be removed from the system. Once the UCoS has been issued, the sponsoring company must then assign it to the worker they wish to sponsor, after which the worker will have up to 3 months to apply, from within the UK, for a Skilled Worker visa.
The Home Office charges a £199 fee for an UCoS to be assigned. The Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) is also charged at this stage unless an exemption applies.
Defined Certificates of Sponsorship (DCoS)
DCoS are used when an organisation wishes to sponsor a migrant worker who will be lodging their Skilled Worker visa application from overseas. Usually, this will be because the migrant in question lacks permission to reside in the UK.
It is not possible to apply for a DCoS as part of a Sponsor Licence application and no annual allocation is available. DCoS can only be applied for on an ad hoc basis, after a Licence is issued and whenever the sponsoring company can demonstrate they have a genuine need to sponsor a migrant worker from overseas.
The DCoS applications are lodged via the Sponsor Management System (SMS) and, in the first instance the Home Office only requires information about the work on offer to be indicated in the application. During the processing of the application, however, the Home Office can request documents and/or further information to be provided in support of the application. If no further information is required DCoS are usually issued within a few working days, otherwise they are usually issued within a few weeks.
Once a DCoS is issued it must be assigned to the worker in question within 3 months. Once it has been assigned it will be valid for a further 3 months, during which time the migrant must lodge their application for Entry Clearance to the UK as a Skilled Worker.
The Home Office charges a £199 fee for a DCoS to be assigned, and the Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) is also charged at this stage, unless an exemption applies.
How Breytenbachs can help you
Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants have a team of highly qualified and experienced consultants dealing with Business and Corporate Immigration. Please contact us for more information or to proceed with your Sponsorship Licence application.