Is a sponsor obliged to sponsor a person within any timeframe after the sponsor licence is approved?
Must jobs be advertised on the government website if they are already advertised on a company's website?
What pay-as-you-earn reference should be entered when applying for the CoS?
Do sponsors need to keep a hard copy printout of the CoS?
How does maternity leave work for sponsored workers?
How long is it currently taking to process CoS annual allocation renewals?
Can a CoS allocation be increased at any point or is it per year?
Is there a way to pull a report of the CoS that have been assigned in the SMS?
Is there a limit on the number of CoS that can be requested in advance?
Should sponsors ask graduates residing in the United Kingdom on student visas to obtain graduate visas?
Can sponsors ask employees to pay half the immigration skills charge via salary deduction?
Once a person's sponsored visa expires, does the company need to get another CoS for them?
Are sponsors legally able to send sponsored employees on secondment?
Once a CoS is allocated, whose responsibility is it to apply for a visa and fund the cost?


Is a sponsor obliged to sponsor a person within any timeframe after the sponsor licence is approved?

No. However, if a sponsor does not use any of its certificate of sponsorship (CoS) allocation, it is possible that the Home Office may set this to zero at the next annual renewal.

Needing to request a CoS allocation (or a defined CoS) may result in a delay in the processing of an application for a sponsored worker. The sponsor must also comply with sponsor duties throughout the validity of the licence irrespective of whether it has any workers sponsored under it.

Must jobs be advertised on the government website if they are already advertised on a company's website?

No. The resident labour market test that applied to tier two (general) does not apply to the skilled worker route. Skilled worker sponsors must still retain evidence of any recruitment activity undertaken, but this no longer requires advertising to be carried out using JobCentre Plus.

What pay-as-you-earn reference should be entered when applying for the CoS?

This is the employer's pay-as-you-earn reference number for the payroll the worker will be paid from.

Do sponsors need to keep a hard copy printout of the CoS?

A soft copy of the CoS is acceptable.

How does maternity leave work for sponsored workers?

A sponsored worker is not allowed to be absent from work without pay or at reduced pay for more than four weeks in any calendar year unless the reason for their absence is for:

  • statutory maternity leave, paternity leave, parental leave or shared parental leave;
  • statutory adoption leave;
  • sick leave;
  • assisting with a national or international humanitarian or environmental crisis, where the sponsor has agreed to the absence for that purpose; or
  • taking part in legally organised industrial action.

A sponsor must also comply with applicable UK laws, so provided the payment of statutory maternity pay is carried out in line with the relevant legislation, a reduction of salary for a person on maternity leave would be allowed. All changes in salary and reasoning should be reported on the sponsor management system (SMS).

How long is it currently taking to process CoS annual allocation renewals?

The Home Office's service standard is 18 weeks; however, there is a five-working day priority processing option with availability of 60 slots per weekday. This costs £200 per priority request.

Can a CoS allocation be increased at any point or is it per year?

An allocation can be increased at any point during the year if a sponsor has justification for it.

Is there a way to pull a report of the CoS that have been assigned in the SMS?

There is no official way to do so. However, in the "View CoS" screen of the SMS, it is possible to select "Search for CoS", which will bring up the first 100 results alphabetically by family name if "%" is entered in the fields for family name and given name(s). The Home Office is expected to replace the SMS with a new system as part of its sponsorship roadmap, and this is anticipated to have improved functionality.

Is there a limit on the number of CoS that can be requested in advance?

There is no limit. However, the Home Office may request information regarding a proposed allocation, including the details of any identified workers to be sponsored or other justification for why the allocation is considered by the sponsor to be necessary for their business. The Home Office may refuse a request if not satisfied it is justified.

Should sponsors ask graduates residing in the United Kingdom on student visas to obtain graduate visas?

While sponsors are not required to sponsor a person who has an alternative immigration route open to them, the graduate route does not accrue time towards settlement in the United Kingdom. If an individual wishes to settle in the United Kingdom, they may be motivated to take up a position with a business that is prepared to sponsor them under the skilled worker route from the outset.

Can sponsors ask employees to pay half of the immigration skills charge via salary deduction?

If a sponsor passes the cost of the immigration skills charge onto a worker, the sponsor licence may be revoked. If this has happened, the sponsor should refund the worker as soon as possible to bring the licence back into compliance.

Once a person's sponsored visa expires, does the company need to get another CoS for them?

If the business wishes to continue to sponsor the individual beyond the expiry of their existing immigration permission, a new CoS and immigration application will be required.

Are sponsors legally able to send sponsored employees on secondment?

There is no absolute prohibition on this. However, sponsors are recommended to obtain advice on a case-by-case basis as there are restrictions on working for third parties. Also, it would be important to understand the impact of any absences from the United Kingdom on settlement eligibility if the secondment is outside the United Kingdom.

Once a CoS is allocated, whose responsibility is it to apply for a visa and fund the cost?

The visa application is the individual's responsibility; however, how much assistance the sponsor provides and who funds the cost of this is a matter for agreement. Some sponsors will put in place a clawback agreement for visa costs. The sponsor must, however, pay for the immigration skills charge in all cases.

For further information on this topic please contact Supinder Singh Sian or Naomi Hanrahan-Soar at Lewis Silkin by telephone (+44 20 7074 8000‚Äč) or email ([email protected] or [email protected]). The Lewis Silkin website can be accessed at www.lewissilkin.com.