This guidance relates to Sponsorship Requirements for UK Skilled Worker Visa for applicants and licensed sponsors. Accordingly, covers the details of Valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), Sponsor License, Immigration Skills Charge (ISC), Genuine Vacancy and Working for Third Parties for scoring 20-points mandatory for UK Skilled Worker Visa Sponsorship Requirements. Moreover, also covers the CoS Checking System and ISC Payment.
UK Skilled Worker Visa Sponsorship Requirements
To get Skilled Worker Visa UK an applicant needs to score 20 points for sponsorship. Accordingly, to secure 20 Points for Sponsorship an applicant needs to satisfy the requirements of Appendix Skilled Worker paragraph SW5.1 to SW5.6 relating to:
- Valid Certificate of Sponsorship
- Licensed Sponsor
- Immigration Skills Charge
- Genuine Vacancy
- Working for Third Parties
Valid Certificate of Sponsorship for Skilled Worker Visa UK
A certificate of sponsorship (CoS) for UK Skilled Worker Visa is only valid if certain requirements are met. Accordingly, the CoS assigned to the applicant must meet all the requirements set out in Appendix Skilled Worker paragraph SW 5.1. The Immigration Officer (Home Office) contacts the sponsor to request any missing details (in particular, the employer PAYE reference number assigned to the applicant).
If the UK Skilled Worker visa application is for entry clearance, then the CoS must be a “Defined CoS”. Accordingly, this means the sponsor has requested it for a specific job and salary and has not assigned it from their general allocation.
SW 5.1. The applicant must have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship for the job they are planning to do
Licensed Sponsor Requirement for Skilled Worker Visa UK
For sponsoring a foreign worker, the sponsor needs to have a valid Skilled Worker sponsor licence. Moreover, the sponsor must also be A-rated unless the applicant is applying for an extension to continue working for the same sponsor.
The Home Office uses Certificate of Sponsorship Checking System to check the sponsor license. If required, the Immigration Officer, may contact the Sponsor Licensing Unit (SLU) to find out more information about the status of a sponsor’s licence.
If the applicant’s sponsor loses its licence while the application is under consideration, the Home Office will inform the applicant- without explaining the reasons- that their sponsor no longer has a licence. However, if the licence was revoked for reasons linked to application, then the Home Office will explain the reasons – for instance, refusing on genuine vacancy grounds, as well as the fact the sponsor is no longer licensed.
SW 5.2. The sponsor must be authorised by the Home Office to sponsor the job in question under the Skilled Worker route.
SW 5.3. The sponsor must be listed as A-rated on the Home Office’s register of licensed sponsors
Immigration Skills Charge (ISC)
The sponsor needs to pay the required Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) for Skilled Worker Visa sponsorship. The Home Office checks the ISC payment is correct and if the sponsor has:
- paid the correct charge or is exempt from making the payment. If so, then will continue to consider the application as normal
- underpaid and there are other grounds for refusal which could not be remedied by writing out for further information, then the Immigration Officer will refuse the application by including the ISC non-payment refusal wording in the rejection letter
- underpaid, then will write out for further information, or the ISC is the only reason to refuse the application, then will:
- give the sponsor an opportunity to pay the charge
- exclude the Skilled Worker Visa application from the service level agreement as a complex case and inform the applicant why a decision cannot be made within the Service Level Agreement
- defer the case for 10 working days
- overpaid, then will make a partial refund to the sponsor
SW 5.4. The sponsor must have paid in full any required Immigration Skills Charge.
Genuine Vacancy for Skilled Worker Visa Sponsorship
The Immigration Officer (Home Office) will not award points for sponsorship if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the job:
- does not exist
- is a sham – for instance, the job exists but the applicant will not be doing it
- has been created mainly so the applicant can apply for UK Skilled Worker Visa
If the sponsor has exaggerated job to make it meet the Skilled Worker requirements, then it is considered separately for job at the appropriate skill level.
Compliance Visit to the Sponsor
Indeed, genuine vacancy concerns may lead the Home Office to a compliance visit to the sponsor. If it is not possible to decide such applications, then the Home Office keep them on hold pending the outcome of a compliance visit. Accordingly, will inform the applicant that their application is on hold due to further checks with their sponsor. However, will not disclose any as-yet-unproven concerns about the sponsor. If the result is the sponsor’s licence is revoked, then the Home Office will explain the genuine vacancy concerns in the decision letter, and not rely solely on the fact the sponsor does not have a licence.
If the Home Office has concerns that the applicant is complicit in being sponsored for a vacancy which is not genuine, then may consider inviting them to attend an interview. Accordingly, will express the concerns to the applicant in plain language and give them the chance to respond (either in an interview or in writing) before deciding. If the Home Office finds applicant complicit, then will include wording relating to false representation in the refusal decision.
SW 5.5. The decision maker must not have reasonable grounds to believe the job the applicant is being sponsored to do:
(a) does not exist; or
(b) is a sham; or
(c) has been created mainly so the applicant can apply for entry clearance or permission to stay.
Working for Third Parties
If one organisation supplies Skilled Worker to another organisation, the sponsor remains full responsibility for the duties, functions and outcomes, or outputs of the job.
Company A has a contract with a client (viz. Company Z) to deliver an IT solution within agreed timescales. An applicant, who is sponsored by company A to work on that project, may be sent to work for the length of the contract at company Z’s premises, but they remain employed by company A throughout the period of the contract. As company A is responsible for their duties, functions, outputs or outcomes, company A must be the applicant’s sponsor.
A sponsor can only assign a CoS if they have full responsibility for deciding the duties, functions and outcomes or outputs of the job. Where the applicant is carrying out work for a third party on their sponsor’s behalf, they must be contracted by their sponsor to provide a time-bound, non-routine service or project on their sponsor’s behalf. This means a service or project which has a specific end date, after which it will have ended, or the service provided will no longer be operated by their sponsor or anyone else. It also means an applicant must not be either:
- hired to a third party who is not the sponsor to fill a position with that party, whether temporary or permanent (for example, an agency worker filling a vacancy with a third-party)
- engaging in contract work to undertake an ongoing routine role or to provide an ongoing routine service for a third party who is not their sponsor, regardless of the nature or length of any arrangement between the sponsor and the third party
SW 5.6. The decision maker must not have reasonable grounds to believe the job the applicant is being sponsored to do amounts to:
(a) the hire of the applicant to a third party who is not the sponsor to fill a position with that party, whether temporary or permanent; or
(b) contract work to undertake an ongoing routine role or to provide an ongoing routine service for a third party who is not the sponsor, regardless of the nature or length of any arrangement between the sponsor and the third party.
CoS Checking System for Skilled Worker Visa UK Sponsorship
The Immigration Officer (Home Office) can search the CoS Checking System using the CoS reference number, Applicant’s details, or Sponsor’s details.
Searching using the applicant’s details
One can search the CoS Checking System for Applicant’s Details by:
- passport or travel document number of the applicant
- family name
- given name
- date of birth
Searching using the sponsor’s details
One can search CoS Checking System for Sponsor details by:
- sponsor licence number
- sponsor name
- sponsor address
CoS Checking System – Status of the Certificate of Sponsorship
|CoS Status||Possible Action|
|Assigned||The Home Office will continue to assess the application|
|Suspended||The Home Office will not decide the case, keep it on hold, and contact the Sponsor Licensing Unit (SLU) to find out if they will be re-instating the sponsor or if it will be suspended indefinitely, and share information with the applicant. If the Sponsor does not get a new CoS, then Home Office will refuse the UK Skilled Worker Visa Application|
|Withdrawn||The Home Office will refuse the application if the sponsor does not assign another CoS because it is no longer valid|
|Used||The Home Office will check if the sponsor has assigned a new CoS. If not, then Home Office will refuse the application because there is no valid certificate of sponsorship for UK Skilled Worker Visa Application|
ISC Payment for Skilled Worker Visa UK Sponsorship
The ISC payment is linked to the assignment of the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) and not to the UK Skilled Worker Visa application for entry clearance or permission to stay. Please note, the payment of ISC is the responsibility of the Sponsor and not that of the UK skilled worker visa applicant.
An application is exempt from the ISC if any of the following apply:
- the applicant is seeking entry clearance for less than 6 months
- the job is a PhD-level occupation under SOC codes 2111, 2112, 2113, 2114, 2119, 2150 or 2311 (note this is different from the list of occupations which are eligible for PhD points)
- the job is in SOC codes 2444 (Clergy), 3441 (Sports Players) or 3442 (Sports coaches, instructors, and officials) – these occupations are not eligible for skilled worker and must apply under the relevant route (either T2 Sportsperson or T2 Minister of Religion)
- applicant currently has permission for the purpose of study (is switching from the Tier 4 (General) route or the Student route)
- the applicant was previously exempt having switched from the Tier 4 (General) route or the Student route and is now applying to extend their permission in the same role with the same sponsor
- the sponsor is the same as on the applicant’s previous application and the period covered by the new certificate of sponsorship overlaps the period covered by the previous certificate of sponsorship (the exemption only covers the overlap; the sponsor must pay the ISC to cover any extra time beyond the overlap)
- applicant initially entered Tier 2 (General) or Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) with a certificate of sponsorship assigned before 6 April 2017 and has held continuous permission ever since under:
- Tier 2 (General)
- Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer)
- Skilled Worker
- Intra-Company Transfer
Applications which do not fall under an exemption attract a fee based on the type of sponsor and the length of the CoS. Accordingly, to establish whether the sponsor has paid the correct charge, the Immigration Officer (Home Office) checks the ISC payment amount (by using the CoS checker) and uses the work start and end dates on the CoS to determine the length of employment.
ISC for Small or Charitable Sponsor
A sponsor is eligible to pay the small or charitable sponsor ISC if it has charitable status, or it is subject to the small companies’ regime as set out in chapter 1, paragraphs 381-384 of the Companies Act 2006, or it has no more than 50 employees. This is consistent with the differential rate that sponsors currently pay for a Skilled Worker sponsor licence. If the sponsor does not pay the charge or does not pay the right amount, the CoS is not valid.
UK Skilled Worker Visa Sponsorship Immigration Skills Charge
|Work Start and End Dates||Small or Charitable Sponsor (Medium or Large Sponsor)|
|12 months or less||£364 (£1,000)|
|More than 12 months, but no more than 18 months||£546 (£1,500)|
|More than 18 months, but no more than 24 months||£728 (£2,000)|
|More than 24 months, but no more than 30 months||£910 (£2,500)|
|More than 30 months, but no more than 36 months||£1,092 (£3,000)|
|More than 36 months, but no more than 42 months||£1,274 (£3,500)|
|More than 42 months, but no more than 48 months||£1,456 (£4,000)|
|More than 48 months, but no more than 54 months||£1,638 (£4,500)|
|More than 54 months, but no more than 60 months||£1,820 (£5,000)|