Tier 2 sponsors:
renew your unrestricted
CoS allocation now!

The annual renewal of unrestricted CoS allocations is fast approaching – don’t get caught out!

If you are a sponsor of skilled foreign workers, now is the time to renew your allocation of unrestricted Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS). Current CoS allocations will expire on 6 April this year and any unused certificates currently allocated to sponsors will be withdrawn from use.

A Certificate of Sponsorship is an electronic document necessary to the recruitment of all Tier 2 migrant employees, with two types of CoS being made available to employers each year. A limited number of ‘restricted’ CoS are up for grabs by Tier 2 migrants and their employers on a monthly basis, whilst there is no limit to the number of ‘unrestricted’ CoS which are available for allocation to Tier 2 sponsors each year in April.

In order to receive a new allocation of unrestricted CoS for 2016 – 2017, a renewal request should be filed without further delay. As a sponsor you should renew your annual CoS allocation if:

  • Over the coming year, you intend to sponsor migrants from inside the UK who are new to your organisation;
  • You maintain a sponsor licence covering the Tier 2 Intra-company Transfer (ICT) visa route and intend to temporarily transfer existing staff to a UK office from overseas; and/or
  • You currently employ migrant staff who will be required to extend their sponsored permission to work in the UK within the next 12 months in order to continue in their employment with you.

Although sponsors are able to submit their renewal beyond April’s deadline, UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) will not guarantee a processing time for considering new allocation requests after this date. A delayed renewal request is likely to cause much disruption to both the sponsor and assignee.

How can we renew our CoS allocation?

The renewal of your CoS allocation must be made using the Sponsorship Management System (SMS). Sponsors may log into SMS here. After logging in, users should go to ‘Request renewal for annual CoS/CAS allocations’ to register their request.

How many CoS should we request?

Sponsors can use the ‘Licence summary’ tab in SMS to find out how many CoS were assigned to its organisation over the previous allocation year. This information can be used to guide the sponsor as to the allocation they should request for the coming year. When considering the number of certificates required, it is advisable to factor in any business aims and projections which may impact staff recruitment over the next 12 months.

The justification provided in support of the renewal request will then be considered by the authorities before a decision is made as to whether or not the full number of certificates required will be allocated.

Sponsors should be aware that the more specific information which can be provided in support of the CoS allocation request, such as project details and candidates’ names, the more likely it is that the full allocation request will be granted.

What does the automatic renewal of CoS allocations mean for us?

This year will see many sponsors receiving an automatic renewal of their CoS allocation for the second year running. Equal to the number of CoS that were assigned to migrants in that category over the previous allocation year, an automatic renewal will emulate a sponsor’s previous Tier 2 immigration activity.

For example, if, during the previous allocation year a sponsor assigned only 100 Tier 2 ICT CoS to migrant employees out of its annual 250 Tier 2 ICT CoS allocation, this sponsor will only receive 100 Tier 2 ICT CoS for the following year.

Unfortunately, UKVI has not provided a list of which sponsors will receive automatic renewals and it is therefore all the more important to ensure you seek to renew your allocation manually.

How can I find out if our allocation has been automatically renewed?

If your sponsor licence account has been adjusted to receive an automatic CoS allocation renewal for 2016/2017, you should receive correspondence confirming this adjustment.

It is possible to find out whether or not your allocation renewal has been automatically processed by referring to the ‘Request renewal of annual CoS/CAS allocations’ tab under the ‘Licence summary, applications and services’ page in SMS. If the words ‘automatically renewed’ are displayed, then a sponsor may be confident that their CoS allocation for the next allocation year has been renewed automatically.

If the words ‘add a request’ are displayed, your CoS allocation for the coming year is not subject to automatic renewal and your request must be made manually.

It is worth remembering that additional ‘in-year’ requests can be filed if an initial CoS allocation is too low for a sponsor’s HR needs. This is of particular importance for sponsors operating within industries which experience peaks and troughs in their recruitment flow.

Smith Stone Walters recommends…

…that all sponsors consider the potential number of CoS required over the forthcoming year and file a request for a new allocation ahead of the April deadline. If this matter is not settled ahead of April’s deadline, companies could find themselves with a zero allocation of CoS. The sponsor would consequently be unable to sponsor migrant employees until such time as an in-year renewal request had been filed and subsequently considered by the authorities.

We understand, manage and support corporate immigration strategies, advising our clients on all aspects of nationality and UK work permit law.

Contact us for support and advice on how to best manage your migrant recruitment needs over the coming year.

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