Certificates of Sponsorship and the skilled worker visa

skilled worker visa

When you are applying for your first Sponsor Licence to sponsor overseas workers the sponsor licence application and management process as well as the allocation of Certificates of Sponsorship can appear a bit complicated. Our sponsor licence solicitors have had an influx of Sponsor Licence and Certificate of Sponsorship enquiries as UK businesses make their first sponsor licence applications and gear up for the end of free movement and the new points based immigration system. Therefore, in this article, we look at Certificates of Sponsorship for the new skilled worker visa


UK Sponsor Licence solicitors

London based OTS Solicitors specialise in business immigration law. For expert advice from the specialist team of work visa and sponsor licence solicitors call 0203 959 9123 or contact us here.  Appointments are available through video conferencing, Skype or by telephone appointment.  


What is a Certificate of Sponsorship? 

UK business owners assume that a Certificate of Sponsorship is an important document as after all the word ‘certificate’ certainly implies that. Whilst the Certificate of Sponsorship isn’t a paper document it is very important in the process of recruitment of overseas workers on skilled worker visas. 


The Certificate of Sponsorship is a reference number issued by the Home Office to the Sponsor Licence holder using the online Home Office sponsor management system. The Sponsor Licence holder then allocates the Certificate of Sponsorship reference number to an overseas job candidate who needs a sponsoring employer to be able to apply to the Home Office for a skilled worker visa.  


In some ways the Certificate of Sponsorship is a bit like a passport for the skilled worker visa applicant as by quoting the Certificate of Sponsorship reference number on the skilled worker visa application it passports them through some of the eligibility criteria for the skilled worker visa, namely it is evidence of an offer of employment by a UK employer who holds a Home Office issued Sponsor Licence to recruit overseas workers on skilled worker visas.


What is the Sponsor Management System?

The Sponsor Management System is the name used by the Home Office and sponsor licence solicitors for the online system to manage the Sponsor Licence. The Sponsor Management System or SMS can either be used by key personnel at the employer’s offices or by a professional Sponsor Licence management service. Many Sponsor Licence solicitors offer a sponsor licence management service to reduce the hassle and red tape for UK employers and because of their experience and expertise in dealing with the Home Office.


The Sponsor Management System has to be used to not only report and record a Sponsor Licence holders actions under the Sponsor Licence but also to obtain and allocate Certificates of Sponsorship to successful overseas job candidates who have been offered a job, subject to securing a skilled worker visa.


Are there different types of Certificate of Sponsorship? 

If you are a HR director or a person appointed as a level one user on your firm’s Sponsor Management System then you may have tried to read up on Certificates of Sponsorship to try to better understand the certificate and visa application process.


The likelihood is that you will read about restricted and unrestricted Certificates of Sponsorship for work visas but the terminology for Certificates of Sponsorship and the system changed on the 1 December 2020. There are now two types of Certificate of Sponsorship, namely:

  • A defined Certificate of Sponsorship and 
  • An undefined Certificates of Sponsorship.


What is a defined Certificate of Sponsorship?

If the successful job applicant needs a skilled worker visa to come to the UK to take up the offer of employment from a UK employer who holds a Sponsor Licence then the employer needs to allocate the visa applicant a defined Certificate of Sponsorship. This type of Certificate of Sponsorship is for a prospective employee who is outside the UK and needs to apply for entry clearance to enter the UK. 


When securing the Certificate of Sponsorship for the prospective employee to use to apply for a skilled worker visa the Sponsor Licence holder has to provide the Home Office, via the Sponsor Management System, with details of the job description and salary. That way the Home Office can check that the job meets the skill level and relevant minimum salary threshold for a skilled worker visa.


What is an undefined Certificate of Sponsorship?

If a visa applicant is applying to the Home Office for a skilled worker visa to remain in the UK, the UK business owner looking to recruit the job candidate will still need a Sponsor Licence to be able to employ the candidate. 


The Sponsor Licence holder will need to sponsor the job applicant even though they are already in the UK and will need to assign them an undefined Certificate of Sponsorship. An undefined Certificate of Sponsorship comes out of a Sponsor Licence holder’s annual allocation. If the business has already used up its annual allocation of certificates then it can apply to the Home Office for an additional undefined Certificate of Sponsorship through use of the Sponsor Management System. The request, via the online tool, should not overly delay the skilled worker visa application process.


Does it matter if you assign the wrong type of Certificate of Sponsorship to a skilled worker visa applicant? 

If a prospective employer of a skilled worker visa applicant assigns a defined Certificate of Sponsorship instead of an undefined Certificate of Sponsorship to a job applicant then this is considered to be a breach of the Sponsor Licence guidelines. It is therefore best if an employer is any doubt about the correct Certificate of Sponsorship allocation process to take some advice from a sponsor licence solicitor.


How long does a Certificate of Sponsorship last for?

If you allocate a Certificate of Sponsorship to a potential employee and they don’t use the Certificate of Sponsorship to apply for a skilled worker visa for three months then their visa application may be refused by the Home Office.


However, a job applicants visa application may also be rejected by the Home Office if it is made more than three months before their employment is due to start with the Sponsor Licence holder.


How can OTS Solicitors help your business with its Sponsor Licence application and management?

The sponsor licence solicitors at London based OTS Solicitors recognise that applying for a sponsor licence and managing reporting and recording duties as well as the allocation of Certificates of Sponsorship isn’t straight forward. The approachable and experienced UK business immigration and sponsor licence specialists can not only assist with the sponsor licence application process but also manage the sponsor licence on your behalf.


UK Sponsor Licence solicitors 

OTS Solicitors specialise in business immigration and employment law and are recommended in the two leading law directories, The Legal 500 and Chambers Guide to the Legal Profession. For UK sponsor licence advice call OTS Solicitorson 0203 959 9123 or contact us here. Appointments are available through video conferencing, Skype or by telephone appointment.  


Relevant People: 

For the best expert legal advice and outcome on your UK immigration application, contact OTS immigration solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.


We are one of the UK’s top firms for immigration solicitors and civil liberties lawyers. We can advise on a broad range of immigration issues including Appeals and Refusals, Judicial Reviews, Spouse Visas, Student Visas, Work Permit Visas, Indefinite Leave to Remain, EEA Applications, asylum and Human Rights, British citizenship, All types of visas, Business Immigration Visas, Entrepreneur Visas and Investor Visas.

Our top immigration solicitors and lawyers are here to assist you.


Disclaimer: The information and comments on this page/site is made available free of charge and for educational and information purposes only. The information and comments do not amount to and are not intended to be adopted as legal advice to any individual or company. The use of this site should not be a substitute for specific legal advice, which we ask you to see our contact page or call our solicitors on 0203 959 9123.

By using this site you understand that there is no solicitor and client relationship between you/your company and the site owners or the firm. We make every effort to keep the published articles up-to-date and accurate, however the law changes very rapidly and the older the articles on this site, the more likely that the views in it have changed with the development of the law.