How to avoid delays when
applying for a Defined
Certificate of Sponsorship

Before a foreign national can apply for a visa to work in the UK, they must be issued with a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from their employer.

A CoS is not a physical document, but instead takes the form of an electronic record containing a unique number which the worker must use to apply for their visa. Once a CoS has been assigned to a worker, they must use it to apply for their visa within three months.

There are two types of CoS designed for different purposes. If you are sponsoring Skilled Workers, you must ensure you understand the difference and assign the correct type to each worker. The two types of certificate are as follows:

  • A Defined Certificate of Sponsorship is for Skilled Workers applying for entry clearance from outside the UK.
  • An Undefined Certificate of Sponsorship is for Skilled Workers applying for permission from within the UK, or for workers on all other visas.

Using each type of CoS

When you are ready to assign a CoS to a Skilled Worker, the process will be slightly different depending on which type of certificate the worker needs.

If the Skilled Worker is applying for their visa from within the UK and needs an undefined CoS, you can issue this immediately as long as you have a certificate available in your annual CoS allocation.

If the Skilled Worker is applying for their visa from overseas, you must apply for a defined CoS using the online Sponsorship Management System (SMS). You cannot have an annual allocation of defined CoS, and sponsors must submit requests to the Home Office on a case-by-case basis.

When you apply, you will need to provide specific details about the role the migrant worker will fill. Once a request has been approved, the defined CoS will appear in your SMS account and you can assign it to the worker. Applications for defined CoS are usually approved within one working day. However, it may take longer if the Home Office needs to carry out further checks on the information in your application.

Avoid delays when applying for a Defined Certificate of Sponsorship

Smith Stone Walters has noticed a recent increase in the amount of defined CoS requests taking longer than the standard one working day timeframe to be approved. In particular, requests for defined CoS for workers on the Health and Care Worker route are being examined more closely.

Any delays in receiving your approved certificate to your SMS account will have a knock-on effect on how quickly you can assign it to the worker and subsequently, how quickly they can apply for their visa. Below, we set out our top tips to avoid delays when applying for a Defined Certificate of Sponsorship.

  • Carefully check the information provided – It is critical to be as accurate as possible when inputting the required details on your application. Avoid providing misleading information, and double check you have input all details correctly, such as the salary and SOC code for the role. If any of this information is incorrect, your application could be rejected.
  • Be ready to be asked for further information – Once a request has been submitted on the SMS, the Home Office will review it and may request further information about the role described in the application. Sponsors should therefore be prepared to provide more details upon request.
  • Respond within the given timeframe – If the Home Office does request further information, they will tell you when you need to respond by. If you fail to provide the required information by the date requested, the application will be rejected.
  • Check junk mail for correspondence – Following on from the above, ensure you don’t miss any important emails and deadlines from the Home Office by regularly checking your emails, including the junk mail folder.
  • File requests at the earliest opportunity – Ensuring you submit your defined CoS requests in enough time is crucial to ensure you can onboard your new employee within the required timeframe. Although requests are usually decided within a day, delays are possible and further information requests are a regular occurrence. You do not need to have identified a candidate in order to apply for a defined CoS, but you will need to confirm specific job and salary details of the role the migrant worker will fill.

Detailed guidance on applying for a Defined Certificate of Sponsorship using the SMS can be found here.

Sponsorship advice and support

Smith Stone Walters has a dedicated sponsor licence team who are experienced in helping businesses of all sizes to manage the sponsorship and visa application processes.

To find out how we can help your business, please contact us today.

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