What is a Defined
Certificate of

On 19 November, the Home Office published a series of new guidance documents which set out further details for employers on the new skilled worker immigration routes opening from 1 December 2020.

The ‘Workers and Temporary Workers: Guidance for Sponsors’ collection includes guides for employers on applying for a sponsor licence, sponsoring a worker and how to comply with your sponsor duties.

The guidance contains key changes to the sponsorship process that existing sponsors and those applying for a sponsor licence for the first time should take note of.

Changes to the sponsorship process

To co-incide with the launch of the new work routes in December, employers who are already approved by the Home Office to sponsor migrant workers will see their existing sponsor licence automatically converted to a new Skilled Worker licence or Intra-Company Transfer licence.

The new licence will come complete with an expiry date consistent with the previous licence, and an appropriate allocation of Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS).

Due to the suspension of the cap that previously applied to Tier 2 visas, employers no longer need to pass through the monthly panel system to apply for CoS under the Skilled Worker route. Previously, the monthly panel system was in place to allow the Home Office to prioritise certain occupations for sponsorship within the monthly limit.

However, there will still be a need for sponsors to apply for what will now be known as a Defined Certificate of Sponsorship before sponsoring a skilled worker for entry clearance cases only.

The new Defined Certificate of Sponsorship

Under the new rules, there will be two types of CoS:

  • Defined CoS – For Skilled Workers applying for entry clearance from outside the UK
  • Undefined CoS – For Skilled Workers applying for permission from within the UK, or for workers on all other routes such as the Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) route.

Sponsors must submit requests for defined CoS to the Home Office on a case-by-case basis. Employers will not need to have identified a candidate in order to apply for a defined CoS, but will need to confirm specific job and salary details of the role the migrant worker will fill.

As a result of time savings from the removal of the panel, the Home Office anticipates that requests for defined CoS should be turned around within one working day.

For in-country applications, sponsors will need to continue to request CoS allocations from the Home Office and justify the need for this, as was required previously.

Let us answer your sponsorship questions

Whether your business has already gained sponsor approval and you are seeking clarity on the new rules, or you intend to apply for a sponsor licence for the first time, Smith Stone Walters is here to help.

For up-to-date, practical advice and support on what your business needs to do to prepare, speak to one of our immigration experts today.

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