If you hold a sponsor licence, you will need to be aware of the changes that come in to effect on 1 December 2020.
- Existing Licences and Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS)
Existing licences (along with Certificate of Sponsorship annual allocation) will be transferred to the new system from 1 December, in the equivalent route (or routes), and with the same expiry date as the existing licence.
Please note that Tier 2 General will be known as Skilled Worker and Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) will be known as Intra-Company.
Employers do not need to update any USED Certificates of Sponsorship.
Requested or assigned but unused Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS)
- Assigned Tier 2 General CoS
If an employer assigned a Tier 2 (General) Certificate of Sponsorship (restricted or unrestricted) to a worker before 1 December 2020 but it has not been by that date, they can ‘upgrade’ the CoS to a Skilled Worker CoS, as long as the CoS was assigned to the worker no more than 3 months ago.
The employer can add a ‘sponsor note’ to the CoS, ensuring that that the following is included:
- the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) scheme reference number.If not being paid through PAYE, the reason must be explained.
- that the worker’s salary will meet the new salary rules
- option specific criteria depending on which option the applicant is relying on for points.
- Restricted CoS (pending decisions)
If the employer applied for a Tier 2 (General) restricted CoS before 28 November 2020 but a decision has not been made, the Home Office will decide the application on that date and inform the employer of the outcome. If the application is granted in the Tier 2 General (New hires – restricted) category, this will be known as a ‘defined CoS’ and the employer will be able to assign the CoS to a Skilled Worker on or after 1 December 2020.
If the employer was granted a Tier 2 (General) restricted CoS before 1 December 2020 but has not assigned it to a worker by that date, they can ‘upgrade’ the CoS to a Skilled Worker defined CoS and assign it to a worker, provided it was allocated no more than 3 months ago.
- Assigned Tier 2 ICT CoS
If the employer assigned a CoS to a worker before 1 December 2020 under the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) rules but the worker has not used that CoS to make an application, the employer can ‘upgrade’ the CoS to an Intra-Company CoS so the worker can use it when making their application on or after 1 December 2020, providing it was assigned no more than 3 months ago.
The employer can add a ‘sponsor note’ to the CoS, which must include the following:
- the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) scheme reference number under which the worker will be paid. If they are not being paid via PAYE, the reason must be explained.
- confirmation that the worker’s salary meets the general threshold and going rate requirements of the new Intra-Company routes.
- New Certificates of Sponsorship
From 1 December 2020 there will be two types of CoS:
- ‘Defined’ CoS: these are for Skilled Workers applying for entry clearance from outside the UK. Employers must apply for these on a case-by-case basis but note that there is no additional application fee. The Home Office is likely to decide on a defined CoS application within one working day and allocate it to the employer’s SMS account, ready to be assigned to a worker within 3 months. Once assigned the applicant will then have 3 months to use it to support an application for entry clearance.
- ‘Undefined’ CoS: these will come from the employer’s annual allocation and will be used for:
o Skilled Workers applying for permission from within the UK;
o Workers on all other routes, whether applying for entry clearance, permission to enter or permission to stay
- New CoS requirements
The Home Office requires all new CoS to state the PAYE details of the employee on the CoS. If the employee is not paid through PAYE, an explanation must be provided. The Home Office may make regular checks with HMRC to ensure employers are paying their sponsored workers appropriately.
The Home Office SMS system will also be offline from 27 November 2020 until 1 December 2020 so all tasks that require SMS access should be completed before this date.