Tier 2 and Certificates of Sponsorships

The Tier 2 immigration route is one of the most popular ways for non-EU citizens to live and work in the UK. Despite its popularity, there is a lot of confustion amongst clients on how the Tier 2 system and the sponsorship licences are operated.

Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence

The UK Points Based Immigration System, requires all UK employers, who employ non-EU nationals under the Tier 2 immigration route, to obtain a Sponsorship Licence. This Tier 2 licence then enable the UK employer to employ non-EU nationals under the Tier 2 route and retain those employees whose pre-existing Tier 2 permits are due for renewal.

Certificate of Sponsorship

The Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is an electronic document which must be obtained by sponsoring companies for each Tier 2 migrant they wish to employ prior to the Tier 2 migrant being able to lodge their own application, for entry clearance as a Tier 2 migrant.

Licensed UK employers have to apply to the UK Government for a Certificate of Sponsorship to employ the non-EU worker under certain specific circumstances. This Certificate of Sponsorship does not guarantee that entry clearance or Further Leave to remain, whichever is applicable, will be issued to the applicant.

Unrestricted and Restricted Certificates of Sponsorships

Unrestricted CoS can be applied for as part of a Sponsor Licence application (or at any time after the licence is approved), whilst restricted CoS can only be applied for after a Sponsor Licence has been granted. Applications for restricted CoS are only then processed once a month.
Restricted CoS are also subject to an annual cap on how many the Home Office will issue (which is subdivided into a monthly cap), meaning that there is always a risk that one may not be available in the first month it is applied for, meaning an applicant have to wait again for another month until the next set of applications are considered.

As such, it is usually much quicker, and generally easier, to obtain an unrestricted CoS rather than a restricted CoS.

Once the CoS is in place, it can then be assigned to an employee, after which the employee and his/her family can lodge their applications for Entry Clearance to the UK.

Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants have a dedicated Tier 2 Department, able to assist both employers and employees with any Tier 2 matter. Please feel free to contact them for more information.

This article was first published in The South African Newspaper online.