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02 December 2020
Structure of new guidance
Skilled workers – defined and undefined CoS
Transitional arrangements for requested or unused Tier 2 (General) CoS
Online submission of new sponsor licence application documents as standard
The Home Office has issued new guidance for sponsors which replaces the Tier 2 and Tier 5 sponsor guidance. It covers the skilled worker, intra-company transfer and temporary worker routes and aims to provide information on sponsorship when these routes are launched from 1 December 2020.
Existing Tier 2 and Tier 5 sponsors will be automatically approved as sponsors in the equivalent new route, with their sponsor licence expiry and certificate of sponsorship (CoS) allocation remaining as currently.
As there will be no uplift to CoS allocations, many sponsors may wish to make an in-year request for an additional CoS allocation. This may be needed to cover any EEA nationals, EEA national family members and any workers who may wish to switch to one of the new routes in-country before the end of the financial year (eg, Tier 2 intra-company transfer or Tier 5 youth mobility scheme migrants who wish to switch to the skilled worker route).
The guidance has initially been expanded from one main document into a series of five documents as follows:
This does not include detailed guidance on each of the temporary work routes, so further documents are expected soon.
For the skilled worker category, rather than there being unrestricted and restricted CoS categories, there will now be undefined and defined CoS. Undefined CoS are for in-country applications and defined CoS are for applicants who will be making an entry clearance application from abroad.
Undefined CoS may be assigned by a sponsor immediately provided that they have an available CoS allocation. Defined CoS must be requested and allocated by the Home Office on a case-by-case basis after a checking process, which should be within one working day unless the request is flagged for further checks.
Although there will be no hard numerical cap on defined CoS, the vetting process aims to allow the Home Office to closely monitor the profile of jobs and salary levels being used to enable skilled workers from abroad to access the UK labour market and to intervene prior to the visa application stage if it identifies any concerning trends.
These are set out in Annex SK1, towards the end of the "sponsor a skilled worker" guidance. In general terms, the guidance confirms the following:
The required sponsor note must include:
Appendix A to the sponsor guidance, which covers the documentation requirements for making a sponsor application, has also been updated. This now refers to the new routes as well as confirming that sponsor licence applications and supporting documentation can be submitted electronically, with the Home Office reserving the right to request originals or certified copies. This amounts to no operational change as electronic submission has been acceptable throughout the COVID-19 pandemic; however, the implementation of this on a permanent basis is a welcome development.
For further information on this topic please contact Andrew Osborne, Naomi Hanrahan-Soar, Stephen O'Flaherty or Joanna Hunt at Lewis Silkin by telephone (+44 20 7074 8000) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com). The Lewis Silkin website can be accessed at www.lewissilkin.com.
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