Issuing a certificate of sponsorship for those entering the UK before 31 December 2020

You can issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) through the online Sponsor Management System. A CoS can only be assigned by a Level 1 or Level 2 user.


A CoS is a virtual document and not a physical certificate. To assign the CoS your Level 1 or 2 user must create a unique reference number. You should give this to the overseas (migrant) worker because they will need to use it in their application for a visa.

They may also need other information from you for their application. The CoS does not guarantee a visa or the right to work in the UK and each CoS can only be used once.

Types of Certificates of Sponsorship

There are two types of CoS - 'unrestricted' and 'restricted' - and they must be used within three months of being assigned. 

1. An unrestricted CoS is for an overseas (migrant) worker who:

  • Currently works for you and requires sponsorship from you
  • Will earn £159,600 or more per annum
  • Currently is in the UK in another immigration category and is allowed to switch into Tier 2 (General), with the exception of dependent family members of students.

You can request an annual allocation of unrestricted Certificates of Sponsorship and additional certificates can be requested through the SMS at any time. These certificates are available to you when required, however the allocation will expire on 5 April. You can apply to renew your annual allocation from 5 January onwards using the Sponsorship Management System. To ensure you have Certificates available from 6 April onwards and to avoid delays to recruitment, it is recommended that you apply in advance.

2. A restricted CoS is required if a migrant:

  • is outside the UK and will earn less than £159,600 per annum, or 
  • is currently in the UK as the dependant of a Tier 4 migrant (a student), then they require a restricted CoS.

There is an annual limit set by the government on the number of restricted CoS that can be issued, currently set at 20,700. Restricted CoS applications must also be made online for through the Sponsor Management System and this can only be applied for by your Level 1 user.

Applications are considered on the 11th of each month and in order to be considered it is recommended that your application is made to the Home Office before the 5th of each month.