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Tier 2 Certificate of Sponsorship from an employer does not guarantee you a working visa | Immigration Matters

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An increasing number of migrant workers are being refused visa extensions because of bungled employer applications, often leading to the worker being deported.  

Last year, the Government scrapped the old Work Permit Scheme, administered in by Work Permit UK caseworkers in Sheffield, at the same time handing over responsibility for the migrant worker to employers or ‘sponsors’. 

One of the responsibilities given to employers was the granting of a ‘Certificates of Sponsorship’ to migrant workers prior to checks been carried out by a caseworker. 

Whilst many companies are reporting that the new scheme is working well, immigration advisers are seeing a number of workers refused visas by the UK Border Agency further down the line. 

Tier 2 Process for in country applicants 

In order to apply for a working visa under Tier 2, which replaced the Work Permit scheme, applicants obtain a ‘sponsorship certificate’ from a licensed sponsor or sponsoring employer. 

If you are a Work Permit holder and your employer is not licensed, you will not be able to renew your working visa, although you may be able to apply for indefinite leave or residency. 

Thousands of migrant workers, including Nurses and Senior Carers, have been caught out by successive immigration rule changes over the last couple of years and still need to extend their visas (linked to their Work Permits) for another year or two before they can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). 

In some cases the worker is just months sort of the five year (changed from four) qualifying period for permanent residency status in the UK.

Senior Carers and other workers such as Chefs have had to also cope with additional changes such as Government imposed pay rates, which has discouraged some employers from renewing their visas. 

Sponsoring overseas workers under Tier 2 

Previously employers did not need to register as sponsors in order to apply for and renew a Work Permit, but this has now changed under the new Tier 2 rules introduced last November as part of the points-based system. 

Employers must have a licence to sponsor skilled workers, temporary workers under the new system, which the Home Office say is part of the biggest shake up in immigration for 50 years. This does not apply to employing overseas students who have their own permission to work under their student visa. 

Employers can register on line as sponsors by going to the ‘Sponsoring workers under the points-based system‘ section of the UK Border Agency website. The process can take several months so plan ahead if you have Work Permits expiring which need renewing. 

Once accepted as sponsors employer can issue ‘Certificates of Sponsorship’ to the migrant worker they wish to employ. The sponsorship ‘certificate’ is actually a reference number needed by the applicant when they make their ‘application for a grant of leave’ or ‘leave to remain’.  

The in country migrant worker then applies to extend their leave or permission to stay by completing the ‘Tier 2 (General/ICT)’ form, and sending this to the UK Border Agency and paying the £465 fee. 

The 57 page Tier 2 (General/ICT) document replaces the much shorter, and easier to complete, FLR form. Dependants must apply on a separate 48 page form – so much for saving the planet. 

The process should be straightforward, but many employers are making fatal errors and giving their migrant workers incorrect certificates. 

Had the worker sent their Tier 2 (General/ICT) form to with this certificate, their application to extend their leave to remain would have almost certainly been refused and the application fee wasted. 

“Employers not up to date with rules” Evelie Padadac, Immigration Adviser 

Immigration Adviser and Work Permit specialist, Evelie Padadac, who has handled thousands of visa and further leave applications, said that employers are making mistakes: 

“Employers are not always fully up to date with rules or aware of the new requirements and as a consequence we have seen a number of sponsorship certificates issued in error. 

“In some cases we only see the client when their application for further leave has been refused and their visa has expired which causes great distress. 

“Candidate wrongly assume that because they have been given ‘sponsorship certificate’ by their employer they’re guaranteed to get the leave to remain extended.” 

Evelie added that common mistakes include not advertising the post and assuming the job is still on the ‘National Shortage Occupations’ list or issuing a certificate when application clearly falls short of the required points. 

The message is clear. Employers should take greater care before issuing certificates and migrant workers must ensure their application meets the rules and requirements before submitting it to the UK Border Agency. 

Employing migrant workers illegally could cost you a £10,000 civil penalty as well as leading to the removal of the worker from the UK.

The UK Border Agency’s website contains useful information on Sponsoring workers under the points-based system, which includes a section on HR systems and compliance.

If you are still unsure of the steps you need to take when employing overseas (non EU/EEA Workers) workers, including Bulgarian and Romanian Citizens, visit or call the UKBA employers’ helpline on 0845 010 6677.

Immigration advisers like Bison UK provides a file audit or vetting service for employers unsure about whether or not their staff are legally employed. 

If you need any immigration advice or help with Studying in the UK, Settlement, Citizenship, Sponsorship, extending Work Permits, Visa or an appeal against a refusal please email: or visit

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139 Responses to “Tier 2 Certificate of Sponsorship from an employer does not guarantee you a working visa”
Read them below or add one

  1. Hi, i’ve already studied in Uk before for 4years and came back to my country and now i come to uk as a visitor and i am thinking to apply for a new visa have you got some options what should i do to get a new visa to stay in uk? Thanks.

  2. Hi

    I am a work permit holder. I am due to apply ILR in next 4 months (on which my visa expires). My Employer is informed by Govt that that company sponsorship license is cancelled. What will happen to my current visa? Can I apply for ILR even though I have stayed only for 4.4 years only? I am still under contract and generating revenue to my Employer.

    Please advice

  3. Hi I am staying in UK since December 2006; initially came on Work permit scheme and worked for 28 moths then travelled back home for 4 months and came back to UK in 2009 to pursue masters degree. After an year of MBA I got a job and worked in Post study tier 1 till end of 2012 and as the post study tier 1 to general tier 1 switching was closed in April 2011, I had to switch to Tier 2 ( general) with a. COS. Now I am getting an opportunity to work for an different employer in that case can switch my tier 2 general? The other question is as I worked leaglly in the UK for 5 years or so and always paid the 40% tax, can I apply for a ILR though I know as I stayed in Post study tier 1 that tenure is going to be get considered but is there a way out to submit my case because though I stayed in Post study tier 1 but paid the taxes.

  4. Try Cynthia Barker who can find an employer for your and sort out your visa – 02089051822

  5. Hi I m working as a senior carer ..n I want to change my employer … Bt I don’t know where I hv to apply for that ..

  6. sajida Khan says :

    I am a qualifiedand experienced science teacher, I have My M.Phil degree from Uk as well. I worked as a cover supervisor when I was in UK. Now i am teaching in a university but want to come back to Uk. Please I need your guidance.

  7. sajida Khan says :

    I spent about four years as a student dependent and two years with residential permit. I came back to pakistan in 2010 and want to know can I apply for residential permit

  8. Vaness says :

    Let me explain well.The family is living/working in usa but they will go back to uk the next summer.One of them,the wife have her job office in london so they are planning to live together with their kids in uk.They ask me if I would like to go with them and still working for them and taking care or the kids .(I am current nanny of their kids in usa).I would like to go because it is a great opportunity to meet another country and the second reason it is because I am not legal worker in usa.I can’t travel or go to college.So maybe I will need to go to honduras and apply to a visa for uk in my country.I have 6 years living here in usa and I can’t get my papers so that’s why i would like to take this opportunity.I don’t want to go to uk just for 1 year or less.I read about the visa for domestic worker but I am not interesting because that type of visa don’t let you stay more than 6 months,is that’s true?Also,I read about sponsorship a foreign worker,could a nanny apply for that and how long that will take?I just want to know if the Family can sponsor me for more than 1 year to live and work for them in uk and what tyoe of visa i will need to apply and how long it will take.Thank you so much for the time that you take for responds to my answers.God bless you.

  9. Depends on where? Difficult in UK.
    Why do you want to leave USA?

  10. Vanessa says :

    Hi-I am undocomented Nanny living/working in usa,I just was hired for a family from europe,they will be here until next summer so they would like to sponsor me or help to get a visa or wotk permit.we don’t know what do we need to do or how.It is possible get my visa to work in uk like nanny?I am 24 years old never married and I am from Honduras but now I am working in usa.please tell me what to do.

  11. Hi

    I am Tier 4 visa completed my course in June this year. As there is no PSW, and none of the big companies have yet agreed to sponsor me, what are any other way to legally obtain work permit. My current Tier 4 is till 2013. I have 5 years of work exp from India before coming to UK in 2009. Thanks

  12. Hi, I am currently on a tier 2 visa and working in a nursing home. I just finished my overseas nursing programme course and am currently waiting for my nmc pin. i have applied and got accepted in a hospital and they have provided me with a new certificate of sponsorship. i was wondering how to apply for a change of employment visa and what are the required documents that i need? many thanks!

  13. Your sponsor is either making you redundant or firing you? You need advice on immigration and employment issues.
    Call Bison UK on (0044) (0)208 905 1822 for a consultation, which can be arranged at their office, online, on the telephone or by SKYPE.

  14. Cheau Ning, Lim says :

    Currently I am holding Tier 2 visa. But now my sponsor asked me to leave the company and back to my own country for goods. My sponsor said it is not redundancy but asked me to leave. My question is, how is the compensation to me? How is the calculation? Am I compensated as a contract worker?

  15. Hi I have a Visa stamped for Intra company transfer and valid till 19/10/2012. But i havent travelled yet on this Visa to UK. My organisation now plans to apply for a long term Visa to UK , hence would like to know if this is possible or will i have to wait for this visa period to be over or also does the cooling period concept apply though i havent traveled on this visa

  16. I am holding tire 2 visa until 2013 but I have lost the job am I allowed to find different employer in time I came to uk 2004 and switched in 2009 in tire 2 thanks I ll be great full


  18. Wishal Dhakan says :


    I need to change to tier 2 general category and I meet most of the requirements except for the COS (certificate of sponserhsip). The company I currently work for doesn’t hold a sponsership license, however the parent company based in London holds a AA rating license. My question is, would a sponsership from the parent company work in this case. Anyone encountered a similar situation..?

    Please reply asap.


  19. Hi I am here in the uk under a diplomatic dependent visa which will end this june. I have tried applying for a permanent post as a Clinical Assistant Practitioner in a hospital and was succesful. My job will start in july and my employer does not know yet of my visa status. Is it possible that they can give me a certificate of sponsorship? Will I be elegible for a tier 2 visa? thanks

  20. shilpa says :


    I got a tier 2 general visa in march 2010 for 3 years ending 2013. I now want to change my employers and get a new tier 2:

    I have the following questions
    -will there be a time lapse between my first tier 2 ending and the beginning of the new tier 2
    -if there is a lapse will that affect my ILR, which I should be eligible for in 2015
    -what can i do to make sure i complete the 5 years to my ILR

    Many thanks for your advice in advance


  21. im looking for a work as a housekeeper or a nanny in uk. i started looking for jobs where the employer is willing to sponsor. what else do i need to make sure to be able to find a job in uk?

    please help..
    thank you.

  22. Sreeja says :

    What are the documents that need to be submitted along with the application form to get the Tier 2 (General) UK visa extension? I am working with the same employer and have a certificate of sponsorship.

  23. Get the employer to register or find one that is.

  24. hi i’m a senior care worker under tier 2, my visa will expire this june 2012, but at the moment my employer dont have permit for sponsorship, is there any way i can renew my visa??? thanks

  25. marianne says :

    hi im holding a student visa,but my employer wants to sponsor me as a carer to his mom .what should be the process and what are the requirements?thank you

  26. Rajesh Anmolsingh says :

    I am holding a Tier 2 general visa.On my Cos form it states that my work end date is April 2012 but the expiry date for my visa is April 2014. Do I have to resubmit my passport to change the visa?

  27. SenthilKumar says :

    I am holding tier2 ICT visa and the visa got extended one time in 2010 .Now the Visa is going to expire in couple of months can i extend 2nd time with the same visa?Could you please answer mu question

  28. You must get your FLR form off before your visa expires, if this is not possible due to the delays in issuing the CoS, you can go home and apply for your visa from there. The important thing is not to overstay your visa.

  29. Akbar Jamshidi says :

    I am currently working as an engineer in a company under my PSW visa permit which is valid till 12 Feb 2012. My company applied for Sponsorship licence and after UKBA representative viewed the company site verbally said the company is rated A and paper works for “certificate of sponsorship” would be send to the company by post.
    We are still waiting for certificate of sponsorship. My question is how long does the process of issuing a “COS” (Certificate of Sponsorship) No takes. Also I would like to know what is my deadline to post my document?
    You know due to time shortage I might need to send it in one or two days before my visa expiry! Do you think would it cause a problem for me?
    Thanks for your advise.
    Akbar Jamshidi

  30. You should take proper advice before jumping ship or changing your visa.

  31. reeba cheriyan says :

    hii..i am rn working in nursing home..recently i was offeres a shortage listed job in nhs..i got sponsorship and applied for visa .my sponsorship denotes the start of employment date as april i allowed to work before that..i am currently on tier 2 visa with a different employer..awaitng your rsponse…thanks

  32. Hi, I am currently on a Tier 2 work permit, valid till Dec 2012. I got married three months ago and now my wife is here with me in the UK as my dependant. We applied from India as she is from there.

    My question is, do I (as the main applicant) need to fill our a ‘Change in Circumstance’ form to inform the Border agency that I have a dependant now? I mean, the form says that we must fill one out if a marriage breaks down & I can see why, cause of the dependant not being able to stay in the UK legally. But does it also apply for getting married? After all, I did mention my sponsorship number and all my details when we applied for her dependant visa.

    Thanks in advance.

  33. Talk to a qualified immigration adviser. Too many DIY ‘penny pinching’ employers do not know what they are doing and mess up migrants lives while they botch up applications. They think it’s so easy and have a go themselves, but more often than not cock it up leaving the migrant worker in deep trouble. Bison UK have been arranging work permits for over 12 years. Try calling them for advice during the week on 0208 905 1822.

  34. I have to totally agree to this author. My wife’s work permit is rejected because of the delay in issuing license to her company and wrong skill code filled in by her employer on cert. of sponsorship.

    We need some legel help. Any suggestions?

  35. Is Graff Diamonds Plc located at at uk flagship store no.8 new bond street London w1s 3sj UK is really hiring for an office staff, I already holding Sponsorship Certificate how will i know if my employer is already registered in sponsoring working visa?could you give me the information where can i find the list of the homes or employer who are already registered in your office.thank you so much.

  36. Hi I am on a tier 2 work permit and have recently lost my job but my visa is valid till 2012 aug. Am I allowed to stay to look for a job while my permit is still valid? I have been in the uk since 2005 July on a student visa and have been working since 2008 June.
    What are my options

  37. You can go home and apply for the working visa.

  38. Touqeer Muhammad says :


    I am holding Post Study Work Permit and working in private firm. My employer recently has applied of Sponsorship License for me. I have left 2 months to expire my Visa. My concerned is, if Home office take a decision to give Sponsorship Licence late (after my Visa Expire), can I apply for work permit from my country on the same license?

    Second, can you advise me how long Home office take to process CoS application.

    Thanks for your advise in advance

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