New guidance for sponsors
on applying for Defined
Certificates of Sponsorship (DCoS)

The Home Office has updated the guidance for sponsors this week, to provide further clarity on how applications for Defined Certificates of Sponsorship (DCoS) will be considered.

The latest version of the ‘Workers and Temporary Workers: sponsor a skilled worker’ guidance for sponsors was published on 11 March 2024 and contains new information on the DCoS application process and the information sponsors must provide when submitting requests to the Home Office.

Most significantly, it is now mandatory to include the total weekly working hours of the worker when submitting DCoS requests to the Home Office. This information will help the Home Office to confirm the stated salary meets the Skilled Worker salary requirements.

What is a Defined Certificate of Sponsorship (DCoS)?

Before an application for a Skilled Worker visa can be submitted, the sponsor must provide the applicant with a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), containing details of the role they have been offered in the UK.

There are two types of CoS you can assign under the Skilled Worker route, known as ‘Defined’ and ‘Undefined’ CoS.

If the worker you wish to sponsor will be making their application for permission (entry clearance) from outside the UK, you will need to assign them with a Defined CoS (DCoS). You can also apply for a DCoS if you have not yet identified a worker but think you may need to sponsor a worker from overseas in the near future.

The DCoS application process

You cannot apply for an annual allocation of Defined CoS. Instead, you must apply for a DCoS as and when you require one.

You can apply for more than one DCoS in a single application, provided the role details (including start date, occupation code, job description and salary) on each CoS are the same.

Applications must be submitted using the online Sponsorship Management System (SMS). There is no additional fee beyond the standard CoS fee, which is currently £239 for the Skilled Worker route.

If your application is straightforward and does not require any further information, you will usually receive a decision within one working day. If your application is successful, the DCoS will be allocated to your SMS account, ready to be assigned to a worker. Once a DCoS has been allocated to your account, you must assign it to a worker within 3 months, or it will be removed from your account. You should therefore only apply for a Defined CoS if you genuinely intend to assign it within this timeframe.

However, the Home Office may reject your DCoS application for a number of reasons, including if they are not satisfied that the job meets the skill or salary requirements of the route, if you have used an inappropriate occupation code for the role, if they have reasonable grounds to believe the job is not a genuine role, or if you have provided false or misleading information in your application.

For this reason, it is important to be as accurate as possible when inputting the required details on your application.

You can find detailed information on how to complete a DCoS application, and how to assign a DCoS, in SMS Manual 12.

Changes to the guidance for sponsors on DCoS applications

The updated guidance for sponsors published this week has been amended to reflect changes to the DCoS application form from 11 March 2024.

The guidance now states that sponsors applying for a DCoS must include the number of hours the successful candidate, or candidates, will work each week. From 11 March 2024, there will be a dedicated field on the CoS for you to record this (previously, sponsors have been required to enter this information in the ‘Summary of job description’ field).

If the number of weekly hours is subject to negotiation or final agreement, you should enter the number of hours you would normally expect workers in a similar role to work each week and provide an explanation in the ‘Summary of job description’ field. You must confirm the correct number of hours by adding a sponsor note when you assign the CoS to a worker.

The updates guidance also now states that sponsors must provide additional information when applying for a Defined CoS to sponsor a worker under occupation code 6145 (care workers and home carers) or 6146 (senior care workers).

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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