Certificates of sponsorship

You must assign a certificate of sponsorship to each foreign worker you employ. This is an electronic record, not a physical document. Each certificate has its own number which a worker can use to apply for a visa.

When you assign the certificate to a worker, they must use it to apply for their visa within 3 months. They must not apply for their visa more than 3 months before the start date of the job listed on the certificate.

You may need to check if your worker needs an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate before you assign a certificate of sponsorship.

Defined certificates

These are for people applying on a Skilled Worker visa from outside the UK.

You must apply for defined certificates for these workers through the sponsorship management system (SMS). You’ll get access to the SMS when you get your licence.

When you get the certificate

Applications are usually approved within one working day. It may take longer if UKVI need to carry out further checks on the information in your application.

Defined certificates will appear in your SMS account once they have been approved. You can then assign them to a worker.

Undefined certificates

These are for Skilled Workers applying from inside the UK, and applicants on all other visas.

When you apply for your licence you’ll be asked to estimate how many undefined certificates you’ll need for Workers and Temporary Workers in the first year.

If you’re sponsoring a UK Expansion Worker

If your licence has a provisional rating, you’ll only be able to assign one certificate of sponsorship. This must be assigned to the authorising officer so they can enter the UK.

Once they’ve got their visa, you can upgrade your licence to an A-rating and request up to 4 additional certificates of sponsorship using the sponsorship management system (SMS).

Certificate costs

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 licence you have.

Type of licence Cost per certificate
Worker (except workers on the International Sportsperson visa)  £239
Temporary Worker £25
International Sportsperson - where the certificate of sponsorship is assigned for more than 12 months £239
International Sportsperson - where the certificate of sponsorship is assigned for 12 months or less £25

If you assign a certificate of sponsorship to a worker on a Skilled Worker or Senior or Specialist Worker visa, you might also need to pay the immigration skills charge.