What to do once you receive your sponsor licence


Know about your licence:

  1. It is valid for 4 years, subject to compliance of your duties. It can be revoked, re-rated (downgraded from an A rating to a B rating for lack non-compliance).
  1. Your sponsor licence is not the same as a certificate of sponsorship. The Sponsor Licence belongs to the employer, the certificate of sponsorship is for the individual employee. 
  1. You use your sponsor licence to obtain certificates of sponsorship that are tailored to each employee’s job plus terms and conditions.
  1. Your sponsor licence start-and-end date is on the licence summary on your SMS (Sponsorship Management System).
  1. If your Sponsor licence application does not give the full details of the migrant worker you propose to employ i.e., (specific post/role, Standard Occupational Classification code, duties, skills, experience, qualifications and salary required), you can still receive your licence, but with zero certificates. 
  1. Having zero certificates of sponsorships (COS) allocated is not a problem, this can be rectified by logging to your online SMS page once you receive your licence and entering the missing details. For this process, the Home Office promises a decision is usually 24hrs, however, this may be longer.
  1. There are 2 types of Certificates of Sponsorship i.e., defined and undefined
  • Defined COS: applied for by workers outside the UK (entry clearance).
  • Undefined COS: applied for by UK-based workers, or workers under any other route.

(NB: A COS is not a physical document; it is an electronic record with a unique reference number relating to the individual employee’s job/conditions etc.).

  1. If you assign the wrong type of COS to a migrant (e.g., defined instead of undefined to a migrant who is in the UK), your licence may be revoked. 
  1. When an immigrant application is applying for their work visa, they need to quote both, your (the Employer’s) Sponsor Licence Number and their generated reference number for their (individual) certificate of sponsorship.
  1. You can always increase the number of certificates of sponsorships by applying on the Sponsorship Management System.
  1. Once your sponsor licence is successful, Level 1 User receives their own user ID and password in the email provided in the application. If you decide to change the Level 1 user, please notify the Home Office through the SMS and ensure you always add a new level 1 user one before removing old one “(add before you remove).”
  1. A  worker must apply for their visa within 3 months of being issued the COS. The worker cannot, however, apply for their visa more than 3 months before the start date of the job listed on the COS. 
  1. So, it is better to obtain the COS when you know you have vacancies, and the potential worker is able to come within 3 months.
  1. The certificate of Sponsorship is free; however, it costs £199 to assign to each worker. Both those awarded certificates of sponsorship and no certificates of sponsorship still have to pay £199.00 to assign each certificate to the named worker. Having zero certificates on your sponsor licence does not make you incur any additional costs; it simply means you did not provide full details in your application. Therefore, you have the additional task of entering the missing details on the Sponsorship Management System before receiving certificates to allocate. 
  1. Whenever you apply to change the level 1 user etc.., you can monitor the progress of all applications on the SMS system as it shows you “pending”, “progress”, “accepted” or “rejected.” You simply log on to SMS account and select “Licence Summary Applications and Services” followed by “view user list.”
  1. We (TANN LAW SOLICITORS), your legal representative can only be appointed as level 1 or level 2 users after the Sponsor Licence has been issued, not before the licence has been issued. You have to first add us on your SMS system. (Contact us on 02477632323 or info@tannlaw.co.uk to request to add us).
  1. We (TANN LAW SOLICITORS) cannot communicate on your behalf without you appointing us as key contacts on your SMS page (contact us on 02477632323 or info@tannlaw.co.uk to request to add us).
  1. When you take-over employers from a different company under a business transfer (TUPE), you must provide a letter from the Authorising Officer with full details of employees whom you are taking full responsibility for. These changes must be reported within 20 days or else the workers may have their leave to remain curtailed or reduced.
  1. Where employees are transferred but the employer has not changed, the Authorising officer (or appointed legal representatives (TANN LAW SOLICITORS)) must provide full details of the employees and confirm acceptance of responsibility of the employees within 20 days. 
  1. A-rated sponsors are eligible to apply for PREMIUM CUSTOMER SERVICE which comes with some benefits e.g., fast-track customer services etc.
  1. Sponsorship Duties
  1. Record keeping duties: Keep the following documents / records and make them available to the Home Office upon request:
  • Copies of migrant passports and BRPs as evidence of entitlement to work during the period of leave to remain.
  • each sponsored migrant’s up to date contact details – address, tele and mobile number
  • documents relating to your sponsored migrants or the running of your organisation which they consider relevant to assessing your compliance with your duties as a sponsor (e.g., HR system flow processes, recruitment practices etc).
  1. Reporting duties

Report certain information or events to the Home Office using the Sponsor Management System (SMS) within certain set time limits:

Within 10 working days:

  • if a sponsored migrant does not turn up for their first day of work
  • if a sponsored migrant’s contract of employment ends earlier than shown on their Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) (e.g., resignation or dismissal)
  • if a sponsored migrant moves into an immigration route that does not need a sponsor
  • if a sponsored migrant is absent from work without pay for 4 weeks or more where this is not covered by the exceptions permitted in the sponsor guidance
  • if there are any significant changes in the sponsored migrant’s circumstances, for example:
  • promotion, change in job title or core duties
  • change of salary above that stated on CoS (due to maternity, paternity, shared parental or adoption leave, or a period of long-term sick leave lasting one month or longer)
  • location of employment changes.
  • if the size of your business changes from small to large or vice versa (as defined under Part 15 of the Companies Act 2006)
  • if a sponsored migrant’s employment is affected by TUPE or similar provisions (e.g. if involved in a merger / demerger).

Within 20 working days:

  • If a sponsored migrant is absent for more than 10 consecutive working days without permission
  • If there are any significant changes in your own circumstances (e.g., if you sell all or part of the business, stop trading, substantially change the nature of your business or change key personnel responsible for the Licence).

When requested:

  • You must report details of any third party who has assisted you in recruiting migrant employees.

When arises:

  • You must report any information to the Police, which suggests sponsored migrants may be engaged in terrorism or criminal activity.

3. Genuine vacancies

You must only assign a where there is a genuine vacancy or role which meets the Tier 2 criteria. A genuine vacancy is one which requires the jobholder to perform specific duties and responsibilities for the job and meets all the requirements of the tier and category. It should not include dissimilar or lower-skilled duties.

If you assign a CoS and the Home Office do not consider that it is for a genuine vacancy, they have the right to suspend and/or revoke your licence.

4. Co-operating with the Home Office

You must:

  • allow Home Office staff full access to any premises or site under your control or demand (even when visits are unannounced)
  • adhere to any action plan set out by the Home Office
  • minimise the risk of immigration abuse by complying with any good practice guidance for sponsors issues by the Home Office.

5. Restricted / unrestricted Certificates of Sponsorship

You must know the difference between assigning a ‘restricted’ and ‘unrestricted’ CoS. 

(Unrestricted: earning a m

You must not assign:

  • a restricted CoS to a migrant for any job other than the one you described in your application for that restricted CoS
  • a restricted CoS where an unrestricted CoS is needed 
  • an unrestricted CoS where a restricted CoS is needed.

When you assign a CoS under Tier 2 (General) you guarantee that:

  • you carried out a genuine resident labour market test in accordance with the rules in force
  • the job appeared on the shortage occupation list published by the Home Office on the date you assigned the CoS (if relevant)
  • where it was a requirement to carry out a resident labour market test, the migrant will be paid in line with the rate you stated when you advertised the job
  • the migrant will be paid at or above the appropriate rate including specific permitted allowances for that job
  • the job is a genuine vacancy.

If you want to assign a CoS to a migrant who will be employed as a nurse or midwife, there may be a number of additional duties for you to comply with. If you require further details of these then please let us know.

6. Complying with the law

In order to ensure that you are complying with immigration laws, further to the obligations set out so far, you must also:

  • only employ migrants who will be appropriately qualified, registered or experienced to do the job by the time they begin the job, and with the relevant permission to do the job. You should stop employing any migrants who are no longer entitled to do the job for any reason
  • keep a copy of any registration document, certificate or reference that confirms that the migrants meet the requirements for the job and give this to the Home Office on request
  • disclose if you assign a CoS to a family member of anyone else within your organisation
  • only assign a CoS to migrants where there is a genuine vacancy, you believe they will meet the requirements of the tier or category and they are likely to comply with the conditions of leave or worker authorisation
  • only employ migrants on the shortage occupation list if you qualify to sponsor the migrants, where there are restrictions on who can sponsor them
  • only assign a CoS to a migrant if you are satisfied that they intend and are able to fill the role
  • where applicable, only assign a CoS for a role which is at or above the minimum skill level as set out in this guidance
  • comply with UK employment law (e.g., National Minimum Wage and holiday pay entitlement)
  • hold the appropriate planning permission or Local Planning Authority consent to run your type / class of business at your trading address
  • comply with all associated conditions of any Work Permit (e.g., pay them at the rate on the Work Permit)
  • if you are a food business, ensure you are registered or approved by the relevant food authority

Home Office Link to the Guide on the step-by-step SMS guide:  Manual 12 of 12: defined CoS (publishing.service.gov.uk)

At Tann Law Solicitors we can help you manage the compliance relating to your sponsor licence application for a fee. If you have further queries regarding how we can assist you with managing your Sponsor Licence or certificates of sponsorships, kindly contact us on the details above.

We can also assist you in your Tier 2 VISA Applications.