UK Employment Visa Sponsorship: Everything You Need to Know

If you’re looking to work in the UK, you might want to consider applying for an employment visa sponsorship, or Tier 2 Visa Sponsorship. This type of visa allows you to legally work within the country, and it can be especially helpful if you’re looking to work in a highly sought-after job that has many applicants but limited positions available. Before getting your hopes up about this exciting opportunity, however, there are several things you should know about UK Employment Visa Sponsorship and what it entails.

UK Employment Visa Sponsorship: Everything You Need to Know

If you’re considering moving to the UK and are looking to work there, you may be wondering if your employer can sponsor your visa. The UK Employment Visa Sponsorship allows you to live and work in the UK if you can find an employer to support your application. In order to apply, you’ll need your prospective employer to provide evidence that they have advertised your position before hiring you, that they are paying at least the going rate for the job, and that you meet any other stipulations by the Department of Labor.

Applying for an employment visa in the UK will seem daunting and complicated if you don’t know what you’re doing, but it doesn’t have to be. However, if you do meet these requirements, then your chances of receiving sponsorship will be much higher than if you didn’t. This guide to UK employment visa sponsorship will walk you through all the steps necessary to get yourself and your family on the path to permanent residency in the UK, from finding the right employer to completing all the paperwork correctly. Read on for everything you need to know about UK employment visa sponsorship and start making your life-changing move today!

What is a UK Employment Visa Sponsorship for Employers?

A UK Employment Visa Sponsorship is an authorization that allows UK employers the right to assign a Certificate of Sponsorship for foreign nationals that come to the UK under a work visa. Those seeking to get a sponsor employer must have the needed qualification, experience, and skills for the position which should be suitable for sponsorship.

If you are looking for an experienced employee from overseas, but your new hire cannot get a visa if you do not have a sponsor, a UK visa sponsorship for employers may be your solution. When it comes to hiring individuals from another country, there are certain rules and regulations in place that must be followed. If you are looking to hire someone from outside of Europe, you will need to know about EU Visas or other types of visas that apply within these areas.

A UK employer that wants to hire foreign workers in their organization will be asked to sponsor them in their visa application, by granting them with a certificate of sponsorship for work. The longest an employer can sponsor a foreign worker is five years. The purpose of a Certificate of Sponsorship is, primarily, to support foreign workers’ visa applications but, equally, is to assure the UK authorities that the UK employer will take the needed responsibilities and obligations for the activities of the sponsored employee during their employment in their company.

What is a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)?

A Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is not a regular paper document, is an electronic record with a unique number reserved for each foreign employee. This number is to be used by the employee during their application for the work visa (amongst a list of other application documents), and it cannot be put in use later than three months from the issuance day.

It certifies that you’re eligible for a Tier 2 visa and allows you to begin your UK employment. It’s essential if you want an employment visa in the UK. A CoS is issued by an employer, who must sponsor you before applying for your visa. The process can take up to six months but is often much quicker. Once approved, it will be sent to you or your representative as part of the visa application package. You will need it when completing your application form at the UK Border Agency.

Who Can Get a Certificate of Sponsorship to Work in the UK?

Any foreign national who has the required skills, qualifications, and experience to do a job in either Tier 2 or Tier 5 of the points-based system, is eligible to get a sponsor employer in the UK.

Tier 2 skilled workers:

  • Tier 2 General – persons that have a job offer in a  skilled job position or a position ranked in the shortage list that cannot be taken by the settled or EEA workers
  • Tier 2 Intra-company transfer – foreigners working in a multinational company willing to either get a job position that cannot be taken by the settled or EEA workers or to follow a training program within the UK branch of the same company.
  • Tier 2 Sportsperson – foreigners with a job offer as an elite sportsperson or coach in the UK who are internationally recognized and whose contribution would be of benefit for further development of the UK sports field
  • Tier 2 Minister of religion – foreigners with a job offer for a position in a faith community as a minister of religion, engage in preaching and pastoral activities, missionaries or are members of religious orders.

Tier 5 temporary workers:

  • Creative and sporting: foreigners with a job offer for a position that lasts up to 1 year as a sportsperson, or lasting up to 2 years for a job as an entertainer or artist
  • Charity worker: foreigners with a job offer for a voluntary position lasting up to 1 year
  • Religious worker: foreigners with a job offer lasting up to 2 years as a preacher, pastor or non-pastor
  • Government-authorized exchange: foreigners with a job offer lasting up to 1 year for work experience purposes, or lasting up to 2 years for attending training or research projects for exchange purposes
  • International agreement: foreigners have a short-term position covered by international law – i.e. a position as foreign government staff, or as a private servant in a diplomatic household

Certificate of Sponsorship Application Process

To begin with, your prospective UK employer confirms on the CoS that you have a job offer that meets the following conditions:

  • Your Skilled Worker visa or Intra-Company Transfer visa application must be made no more than 3 months after the CoS is issued, and you will have a start date no more than 3 months after your visa application is made.  
  • The job in question meets the minimum skill level requirement. This means for Skilled Worker visa applicants it must be Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) level 3 or above. For Intra-Company transfer visa applicants, it must be at RQF Level 6 or above. 

Once you have been assigned a CoS by your sponsor, you have 3 months to make your visa application, after which time the certificate will expire. If required, the CoS start and end date can be changed by the employer by making changes via a sponsor note in the Sponsor Management System. You cannot apply for your UK visa more than three months before the start date of the CoS.

Certificate Costs for UK Employment Visa Sponsorship

You’ll need to pay a fee when you assign a certificate to a worker. How much a certificate will cost depends on the type of sponsor license you have.

Type of license Cost per certificate

  • Worker (except workers on the International Sportsperson visa):  £199
  • Temporary Worker:  £21
  • International Sportsperson - where the certificate of sponsorship is assigned for more than 12 months: £199
  • International Sportsperson - where the certificate of sponsorship is assigned for 12 months or less: £21

Final Thoughts

To be honest, whether or not you need a visa sponsorship in order to work depends on a few factors. If you’re taking up employment through an agency (the case with most entry-level jobs), then you probably won’t need visa sponsorship. If, however, you’re applying for an advertised job directly (as many foreign nationals do) then that position may require sponsorship from your future employer. It's worth checking the company's website before submitting any applications. It should also be noted that employers are required to provide accommodation and food for their sponsored employees if it is outside of London, but this will depend on the type of contract and salary offered by the company. Proceed with the link below for more information on UK employment visa sponsorship.