Employment and Immigration Update - Assigning CoS in the new immigration system

27 November 2020

In our last update we provided a summary of the new Immigration Rules, which are coming into force on 1 December 2020, including information about the new Skilled Worker visa.

On 19 November 2020 the Home Office released new sponsor guidance which provides more information about how the new system will work.

Instead of “restricted” and “unrestricted” Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) for Tier 2 General visas, there will be “defined” and “undefined” CoS for Skilled Worker visas.

Undefined CoS will be used for migrants who are already in the UK. Any current allocation you have of unrestricted CoS, will be converted into undefined CoS. This allocation sits in your sponsor management system and can be used as and when required.

Defined CoS will be required for anyone applying for a Skilled Worker visa from outside the UK. Sponsors will need to go through a process of requesting a defined CoS every time one is required. The guidance suggests this will just be a case of supplying all the CoS information. If the Home Office considers it to be straightforward, the request should be granted in around 24 hours. However, they reserve the right to seek more information and of course then it could take longer. The guidance does not specify what more may be required, but we expect it may include scrutiny of whether the role is a genuine vacancy.

Under the new system, sponsors will be required to supply more information when assigning a CoS. In future, you must include your PAYE scheme reference number, unless for some reason this does not apply. It seems to us this would only be the case if it is an intra-company transfer and the migrant is being paid into their bank account abroad, by the employer who is seconding them to the UK.

If the migrant is claiming tradeable points, because their salary does not meet the standard requirement of £25,600 and the going rate, you must also explain on the CoS how those points are claimed. For example if it is a shortage occupation, the migrant is a new entrant, or is relying on a PhD relevant to the job.

We note that although the resident labour market test (RLMT) has been scrapped for Skilled Workers and T2 Ministers of Religion, it is still required under the new rules for T5 Religious Workers. Therefore for this type of CoS for temporary workers, you must also explain how the RLMT requirement has been met.

There are transitional arrangements, which mean that if you assign a Tier 2 General CoS before 1 December 2020, but the migrant does not use this to make their visa application until after that date, you will be expected to add a sponsor note with the additional information, to turn it into a Skilled Worker CoS.

Similarly, if you apply for a restricted CoS before 28 November 2020, any CoS granted after that date will instead be a defined CoS. You will also need to add a sponsor note as above, before assigning the defined CoS.

We expect to start running training sessions on the new system from January 2021. If you would like us to deliver a webinar for your team, to bring HR, recruitment and talent acquisition colleagues up to speed and provide a forum to discuss how your particular organisation will deal with the new system, then please contact our Head of Immigration, Clare Hedges.

This article is from the November 2020 issue of Employment and Immigration Law Update, our monthly newsletter for HR professionals. To download the latest issue, please visit the newsletter section of our website. For more details regarding any of the matters covered in this update, please contact Clare Hedges or Janice Leggett in our Immigration Team.

The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at November 2020.