Overseas Certificate of Sponsorship application process

Immigration Skills Charge (ISC)

The government has introduced an Immigration Skills Charge (ISC), with effect from 6 April 2017. The ISC is being levied on employers who sponsor applicants under Tier 2 to take up certain roles, but few University roles are affected.

Please note the ISC does not apply to Research and Lecturer roles, and there are a number of other exemptions. For full details please see our 'Cost and payment of applications' page.

Limit on delayed start dates

A recent change to the Tier 2 guidance states that if a sponsored Tier 2 visa holder's start date is delayed by more than 4 weeks sponsorship would have to be withdrawn. The start date listed on a Tier 2 CoS can be amended before the visa application is submitted by the individual. After this point the 4 week limit on any delayed start would apply. If you have any cases where a start date may be delayed speak to SIT as early as possible.

Before applying to the Staff Immigration Team for a Tier 2 Certificate of Sponsorship for an overseas applicant, departments and colleges must first satisfy themselves that the applicant is able to meet the points criteria for a Tier 2 visa (note that the points criteria for a Tier 2 visa are different to the points criteria used by the Home Office when considering a formal request for a Certificate of Sponsorship).

Departments and colleges should also satisfy themselves that the applicant has not held a valid Tier 2 visa in the past twelve months. Under the Tier 2 ‘Cooling Off Period’ rules, those applying from overseas who have held a Tier 2 visa within the past twelve months will not be eligible to return to the UK on another Tier 2 visa for at least twelve months after either their previous visa expired, or the earliest date from which they can provide evidence that they had left the UK and have not since returned. Similarly, those applying from within the UK who have held a Tier 2 visa within the past twelve months but switched out of Tier 2 into a different immigration category (e.g. Tier 1 or Tier 4) will not be eligible to switch back on to a Tier 2 visa for at least twelve months after they switched out of Tier 2.

Points requirements

Applicants must obtain 70 points in order to be eligible for a Tier 2 visa, as follows:

Requirement Points
Valid Certificate of Sponsorship 30
Salary* meets the 'New Entrant' or 'Experienced Worker' threshold specific to the job type detailed in the appropriate Codes of Practice in Appendix J of the Immigration Rules, and the 'New Entrant' (£20,800 per annum), or 'Experienced Worker' (£30,000 per annum) Tier 2 minimum salary threshold, as appropriate. 20
Maintenance - either (a) the equivalent of £945 of personal savings held for at least 90 days prior to the date of the visa application, plus additional savings (£630) for each accompanying dependant, or, (b) confirmation from the employing department/college that it will if necessary maintain and accommodate the applicant to a minimum value of £945 (and accompanying dependants to a minimum value of £630 each, if required) during the first month of employment. 10
English language: (a) national of an English-speaking country as defined by the Home Office, or (b) has studied for a degree via the medium of English (and this has been certified by UK NARIC if required), or (c) has passed an approved English language test 10

The Home Office defines ‘New Entrant’ applicants as being:

  • graduates switching from Tier 1 (Post-study Work), Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur), or Tier 4 into Tier 2 under the post-study provisions; and
  • anyone aged 25 or under on the date of their Tier 2 visa application.

(However, in all cases, applicants will not be classed as new entrant employees if they are applying to extend their total stay in Tier 2 and/or as a work permit holder beyond 3 years and 1 month.)

‘Experienced Workers’ are defined as:

  • anyone not switching into Tier 2 under the post-study provisions and aged 26 or over on the date of their Tier 2 visa application;
  • anyone wishing to extend their total stay in Tier 2 and/or as a work permit holder beyond 3 years and 1 month.
  • anyone where a Certificate of Sponsorship is being issued for longer than 3 years

* Please note that applicants must be paid their salary into their own personal bank account. Payments in cash are not permitted.

English language requirements

Departments and colleges should satisfy themselves that the English language requirement is met before applying for a Tier 2 COS and should be aware that any delay in verifying the English language requirement (such as the applicant needing to sit an English language test or have qualifications verified by UK NARIC) will delay the visa application.  We have created an English Language Requirement Flow Chart (199kb) to assist departments and colleges in determining how the English language requirement can be met.

Nationals of Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia,  St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and the USA automatically meet the English language requirement, as nationals of English speaking countries.

For those who intend to meet the English language requirement by passing an approved English language test, please see the Home Office's guidance on the 'Knowledge of English' requirements and their list of  Approved English Language Test providers and centres for guidance on acceptable programmes and the grade applicants must reach in order to meet the Tier 2 requirements. Either ‘Academic’ or ‘General’ level English tests are acceptable but they must be approved tests for UKVI applications taken at an approved test centre.

There have been cases where Tier 2 applicants have sat the wrong English language test, or have taken the test at the wrong test centre. Having to book, pay for, and sit another test has led to significant delays to start dates. In order to avoid such delays please ensure applicants consult the Home Office list of Approved English Language Test providers and centres before booking a test.

Applicants who are relying on a qualification taught entirely in English as evidence of meeting the English language requirements should note the following:

  • If the qualification is a Bachelor, Masters or PhD awarded by a UK institution the qualification does not need to be verified by UK NARIC.
  • If the qualification is a Bachelor, Masters or PhD degree (or equivalent) awarded by an institution in Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago or USA, the applicant will need  to have the level of the qualification verified by UK NARIC (see further information on UK NARIC below).
  • If the qualification was awarded by a country not listed above but was taught entirely in English, the applicant will need to have both the level of the qualification and the fact that it was taught in English verified by UK NARIC (see further information on UK NARIC below).

Verification of qualifications by UK NARIC

Those who are required to have their qualification verified by UK NARIC can apply for verification online. A fee of £125+VAT is payable per application for verification. UK NARIC charge a single fee of £125 + VAT whether applicants are submitting one or multiple qualifications for verification and will return decisions by post within ten days.

Applicants who are required to obtain verification of their qualification(s) from UK NARIC are advised to do so as early as possible or consider taking an approved English language test instead which in some cases may be quicker and/or more cost effective.

When applying for verification to UK NARIC, applicants should be aware that they will be required to upload scanned copies of both their original degree certificate and their academic transcript. Those who are also required to have the fact that their qualification was taught in English verified, must also submit a letter form the institution that awarded their qualification confirming that the qualification was taught entirely in English. If any of the original documents are not in English, a certified translation will also need to be provided to UK NARIC.

Applicants should be aware that an application to UK NARIC does not guarantee that they will certify the level of the qualification or that it was taught in English. Where verification is not successful, the applicant will need to take and pass an approved English language test instead.

How to apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship

In order to apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship for an overseas applicant, the employing department or college will need to complete a Tier 2 initial CoS application form (200kb) and return this to the Staff Immigration Team together with the documentation listed at the end of the form.

The Staff Immigration Team will submit all valid requests received by the 29th of each month to the Home Office which will consider the applications on the 11th of the following month. The University should receive notification of the Home Office's decision within five working days, and the Staff Immigration Team will issue approved Certificates of Sponsorship to applicants as soon as possible.

A Tier 2 Certificate of Sponsorship can be issued for either up to three years or up to five years in the first instance and can be extended up to the six year maximum permitted time on a Tier 2 visa. Applicants who wish to remain in the UK to work beyond six years should apply for settlement if they are eligible to do so. Those who are not eligible to apply for settlement will be required to leave the UK after six years.

Please note that those applying for a Tier 2 visa, and their dependants, will have to pay the NHS Surcharge in addition to the relevant visa application fees when submitting their visa applications. As the NHS Surcharge is based on the duration of the visa and can be a significant addition to the visa fees this may affect the decision of the length of visa applied for. You may wish to draw the applicant's attention to this issue.

Overseas Criminal Record certificates

A requirement to provide overseas criminal record certificates when applying for a Tier 2 visa to come to the UK has been introduced for a few jobs codes in the education, health and social care sectors. Of the job codes currently affected the only one which SIT has identified as relevant within the collegiate University is SOC code 2317, which is used (very infrequently) for senior administrative posts such as ‘Course Director’ or ‘Director of studies’.

PLEASE NOTE: the new requirement does not apply to the Researcher (SOC code 2119) and Lecturer (SOC code 2311) roles sponsored most frequently by the University, or any other job types SIT normally encounter, only senior administrative roles which fall under SOC code 2317.

Where the requirement does apply the applicant will have to provide either an original or a scanned copy of a criminal record certificate from the relevant authority in any country in which they have been resident for 12 months or more (whether continuously or in total) in the past 10 years, while aged 18 or over. Any dependants who are over 18 years old must also meet this requirement. The Home Office provides contact details for the relevant authorities in different countries along with details of how to apply.

As this requirement will not affect the vast majority of Tier 2 applicants sponsored by the University please contact SIT as early as possible if you are advertising a role which you think may be affected. SIT will confirm if the requirement does apply and provide further information and links to the information provided by the Home Office. If the chosen candidate requires a Tier 2 visa you will then need to inform them of this requirement as early as possible so that they have time to obtain these documents before they submit their visa application.