Certificate of Sponsorship

As a UK employer looking to sponsor an overseas worker, having the correct information about the sponsorship process is crucial. The Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is a key component in recruiting international workers – this accounts for different work visa routes.

information about health and care worker visas

Before the sponsorship process begins, a Certificate of Sponsorship must be assigned. This is used to demonstrate that the specific conditions of the relevant work visa have been met. From here, the sponsored worker uses the Certificate of Sponsorship as supporting evidence in their visa application to the Home Office.

It is important to note that the CoS comes with regimented conditions and timings during the assignment process. This is something employers need to take into consideration in order to comply with its strict regulations. 

During the application process, any errors may result in refusal of the international workers visa application. This can also implicate the employer as action could be taken against them by the home office – this may include a sponsor licence downgrade, suspension and can even escalate to complete revocation.

Here at Borderless, we provide a streamlined platform to help both employers and candidates interpret complex Home office guidelines.

What is a Certificate of Sponsorship?

A Certificate of Sponsorship is a reference number that is assigned to an international worker during their work visa application. Rather than a tangible document, it is an electronic record.

This certificate is mandatory for both applicants in the categories of Worker and Temporary worker. Further examples include:

  • Skilled Worker
  • Scale Up Worker
  • Senior or Specialist Worker

Once the CoS is assigned to an individual, it effectively confirms to the Home Office that the employment conditions are compliant with the requirements within the specific work visa route. 

There are some important rules to take into account:

  • The CoS has to be used to make the workers visa application within 3 months of issue.
  • However, the international worker cannot apply for their visa 3 months prior to the start date of the job that is listed on the CoS.

Defined versus Undefined – Certificates of Sponsorship

In accordance with the changes in Immigration Rules established in December 2020, there are now two types of certificates – ‘defined’ and ‘undefined.’

Defined Certificates of Sponsorships:

  • These were formerly known as ‘restricted certificates.’ 
  • They are issued to Skilled Worker visa applicants applying internationally. 
  • The defined Certificate of Sponsorship will appear in the SMS account once it is approved by UK Visas and Immigration. At this stage, the employer can assign this certificate to the international worker.

Undefined Certificates of Sponsorship:

  • These were formerly known as ‘unrestricted certificates.’
  • They are required in order to sponsor Skilled Worker visa candidates that already reside within the UK.
  • They are also required for all other sponsored visa routes. 

What is the Cost of a Certificate of Sponsorship?

It is a mandatory requirement for sponsors to pay a fee to assign a Certificate of Sponsorship to an overseas worker. The cost is dependent on a number of factors, which include the type of visa being applied for, and how long the certificate is assigned to the worker. The pricing has a significant fluctuation, with a Skilled Worker Visa CoS costing £239 and a CoS for a Temporary Worker Visa costing £25. 

For a pricing reference, the table below contains the latest fees for employers applying for a Certificate of Sponsorship:

Type of SponsorshipCost
Premium Sponsor Service (12 months) Worker sponsor and Temporary worker sponsor – large sponsors£25,000
Premium Sponsor Service (12 months) Worker sponsor and Temporary worker sponsor – small sponsors£8,000
Premium Sponsor Service (12 months) Student sponsors£8,000
The expedited processing of a sponsorship management request made by a Worker sponsor or Temporary worker sponsor£200
Priority service for expedited processing of sponsor licence applications£500
Worker sponsor licence (small sponsor)£536
Worker sponsor licence (large sponsor)£1,476
Student sponsor licence£536
Temporary Worker sponsor licence£536
Worker and Temporary Worker sponsor licence (large sponsor)£1,476
Worker and Student sponsor licence (large sponsor)£1,476
Worker, Temporary Worker and Student sponsor licence (large sponsor)£1,476
Temporary Worker and Student sponsor licence£536
Worker sponsor licence (large sponsor), where sponsor presently holds a Student Sponsor and/or Temporary Worker licence£940
Endorsement fee for a Scale Up sponsor licence under Endorsing Body Pathway, which excludes VA£1,500
Student sponsor basic compliance assessment£536
Sponsor action plan£1,476
Certificate of Sponsorship - Skilled Worker, Global Business Mobility – Senior or Specialist Worker, T2 Minister of Religion£239
Certificate of Sponsorship – Service Supplier and Secondment Worker route, Temporary Worker including Global Business Mobility – Graduate Trainee, UK Expansion Worker, Scale Up route£25
Certificate of Sponsorship for International Sportsperson route – over 12 months£239
Certificate of Sponsorship for International Sportsperson route – up to 12 months or less£25
Confirmation of Acceptance for Study (CAS) for student, child student£25

How to Apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship

As an employer, you must ensure that your company has the right type of sponsor licence before you begin the process of hiring a sponsored worker, and then assigning the relevant CoS.

In order to obtain a sponsorship licence, you must show that your company is practicing legitimately and in adherence with UK laws. You will also have to prove that you are able to carry out visa sponsorship duties, and that you have appropriate and sufficient HR and recruitment systems in place.

When applying for a ‘defined’ certificate, the employer must apply through the Sponsorship Management System (SMS) once they have gained their sponsor licence.

For undefined, you must submit an estimate of how many undefined certificates your business will require within the first year. If the full allocation is used up within 12 months, you can use the Sponsorship Management System to apply for further certificates.

It is worth noting at this point that this is a complex process. Failing to apply correctly may delay the overall progress of acquiring worker visa applications. Here at Borderless, our team of experts are happy to guide you through each stage to ensure a professional and simple application process.

Updates January 2024 

What Has Changed 

  • Over the past few months, we have experienced a shift in the process of applying for both undefined and defined CoS’s:
  • It’s taking longer: The Home Office response time has increased.
  • The Home Office is now requiring additional documentation.


The Home Office is trying to ensure: 

  • The company applying for additional CoS’s is a legitimate care organisation.  
  • The provider has enough work available to sponsor someone full time. 

The Impact  

What does this mean for your organisation?

  • Time and resources are being spent on back and forth communication with the Home Office regarding missing or additional documents required. 
  • The candidates’ sponsorship timeline is ultimately pushed back, occasionally resulting in candidates’ visas expiring before the CoS’s are granted.
  • Employers are left understaffed while waiting for approval. 

Effective Methods and Strategies To Secure CoS:

Request Timeline 

  • Ensure you always have enough CoS’s before committing to sponsoring someone.
  • Set a standard practice of submitting all CoS requests no later than one month prior to your desired candidate start date. 

Document Preparation

  • Ensure that all Home Office documents are updated and completed before you submit your request.

Contact Us
Get in touch with Sponsor Licence for general enquiries, feedback and requests for information.

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