Certificate of Sponsorship

A Certificate of Sponsorship is not a paper certificate it is a virtual document with a unique reference number which we issue a migrant so they can then apply for permission to enter the UK if they are overseas (known as entry clearance - and requiring a “restricted” Certificate of Sponsorship) or permission to stay in the UK if they are already in the UK (known as leave to remain - requiring an “unrestricted” Certificate of Sponsorship).

Please note:  The university issuing a Certificate of Sponsorship does not guarantee the applicant being granted a working visa.  It is the applicant’s responsibility to apply for a working visa via the UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) application process.

Please note: Under no circumstance will it be possible for the individual to take up employment before the Certificate of Sponsorship and resultant visa are obtained and verified.  If a working visa is not granted the applicant’s employment will terminate with immediate effect.

Employment under Tier 2

All migrants wanting to come to the UK under Tier 2 must obtain prior entry clearance.  However they can only do this with a valid Certificate of Sponsorship.  The Certificate of Sponsorship acts as confirmation that the university wants to bring a migrant to the UK and that to the best of our knowledge that person meets the rules for the assignment of the Certificate of Sponsorship.  It is the UKVI who make the final decision as to who is allowed to travel to or remain in the UK.  This decision will be based on the immigration rules, including whether the migrant has scored enough points.

Skill Level

The UKVI stipulate that all migrants applying for leave to enter the UK from overseas must be coming to fill a vacancy that is at or above graduate level.  The same applies for migrants who are already in the UK under another immigration category who are eligible to switch into Tier 2 (General).

Where a migrant is already working in the UK under Tier 2 (General) where their leave was granted before 6 April 2011 the job must be at or above S/NVQ level 3.

Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes

The UKVI has a Code of Practice for Skilled Workers that the university must adhere to.  The Code of Practice classifies jobs in terms of skill level and skill content, as mentioned above.  These classifications are listed as SOC codes.

When applying for a Certificate of Sponorship the university has to provide evidence to the UKVI that the role the migrant is filling meets the required skill level and appropriate rate of pay as specified in the Code of Practice and subsequent SOC code.    

The following PhD level SOC codes are particularly relevant to the university:

  • 2111 Chemical scientists
  • 2112 Biological scientists and biochemists
  • 2113 Physical scientists
  • 2114 Social and humanities scientists
  • 2119 Natural and social science professionals not elsewhere classified
  • 2150 Research and development managers
  • 2311 Higher education teaching professionals

Resident labour market test

The university also needs to ensure the post being recruited to meets the resident labour market test.  The university can only recruit a non EEA migrant to an advertised post by showing that no suitably qualified settled worker can fill it. 

In order to meet the resident labour market test all jobs must be -

  • advertised to settled workers for a minimum of 28 calendar days
  • advertised in Jobcentre Plus
  • advertised using one other method permitted in the relevant code of practice.  Currently the method the university uses is to advertise all jobs on jobs.ac.uk

It is best practice to contact your link HR Team at the recruitment stage of any post that you think may potentially lead to the university having to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship in case the relevant Code of Practice for that post specifies a particular advertising medium.

All Certificates of Sponsorship, either restricted or unrestricted, must be assigned within 6 months of the date the vacancy is first advertised.

Please Note: If the above conditions have not been met fully you will only be able to recruit non EEA migrants who hold proof of their eligibility to work in the UK.

Annual limit

There is an annual limit on the total number of Certificates of Sponsorship available under Tier 2 (General).  The limit applies to:

  • new employees earning under £150,000 per annum that are coming to start work in the UK from overseas
  • the dependant of a migrant who was last granted leave under Tier 4, or as a Student, where that dependant wishes to switch into Tier 2 (General)

The above are referred to as “restricted” jobs, for which a “restricted” Certificate of Sponsorship is required.  Before the University can issue these, permission must be granted using the monthly allocation process. 

The following are exempt from the above limit and are referred to as ‘unrestricted’ jobs, for which an ‘unrestricted’ Certificate of Sponsorship is required:

  • New employees who will be coming from overseas but the annual salary for the job is £150,000 or more.
  • Extensions - where you need to extend leave for a migrant who is already in the UK working for you and has or was last granted leave under Tier 2 (General) or as a Work Permit holder.
  • Changes of employment - where a migrant is already in the UK and has, or was last granted leave under Tier 2 (General) or as a Work Permit holder and who wants to:
    • Change jobs with the same sponsor and the new job is in a different SOC code; or
    • Start work for a new sponsor.
  • Those switching Immigration category - where a migrant who is already in the UK under another immigration category is eligible to switch into Tier 2 (General).  Please note: the only exception to this is where the migrant switching into Tier 2 (General) is in the UK as the dependant of another migrant who was last granted leave under Tier 4 or as a Student.  These dependants do count towards the limit which means that we must apply for a restricted Certificate of Sponsorship for them.

These above examples are the only exemptions and all other Tier 2 (General) Certificates of Sponsorship will count towards the annual limit.