Deadline For Renewing COS Allocations Looming

Deadline For Renewing COS Allocations Looming

The deadline for renewing unrestricted Certificate of Sponsorship (COS) allocations is 6th April 2018 – don’t delay on meeting this important deadline.

The time between Christmas and Easter seems to fly by for most businesses, who are busy implementing new year plans and ensuring the first quarter finishes off strongly.  Many HR directors and heads of department are in the process of hiring new talent and are in the thick of staff training.  Therefore, it is easy to let matters relating to Tier 2 Sponsor Licences and migrant Employees slip through the cracks.

However, it is vital you renew your unrestricted COS allocations prior to the 6th April deadline.  Failure to do so could result in the expiry of current allocations and any unused certificates being withdrawn from use.

To ensure you protect your unrestricted COS allocations, speak to an experienced immigration solicitor who can provide you with the best advice.

OTS Solicitors is highly recommended in the Legal 500 for immigration and Human Rights law.  We have also been selected by the 2017 Global Excellence Awards as the Most Trusted in immigration law: UK.  As a dynamic, commercially astute team, we provide the best legal advice to businesses and individuals throughout the UK, Europe, South East Asia, Russia and the Middle East.

What is a COS?

A COS is an electronic document which is issued to a prospective Tier 2 migrant by their sponsoring company.  Without a COS, a Tier 2 migrant cannot obtain entry-clearance into the UK.

COS are applied for through the Sponsor Management System (SMS).  A unique number will be generated, which you in turn provide to the Tier 2 migrant.

There are two types of COS – restricted and unrestricted.

As the name would suggest, there is no limit to the amount of unrestricted COS a Sponsor Licence holder can obtain; however, they are only applicable where:

  • the employee is paid over £159,600
  • the employee is already in the UK, working for you, and needs to extend their visa
  • the employee is already in the UK, working for you, and is switching to a new position that has a different standard occupational classification
  • the Tier 2 (General) worker is already in the UK and wants to start work for a new sponsor (ie your organisation)
  • the migrant is already in the UK under another immigration category and qualifies to switch to a Tier 2 (General) Visa (this doesn’t include those who are in the UK as a Tier 4 dependant)

If the COS is for an employee who is not a high earner, it will fall under the restricted category.  Applications for a restricted COS can only be made by a Level 1 user.

A restricted COS must be assigned to a migrant employee within three months of the allocation date.  In addition, a compliant Residential Labour Market Test (RLMT) must have been carried out before making an application for the COS.

There are a limited number of restricted certificates available every month.  All applications for COS are considered on the first working day after the 10th of the month, known as the “allocation date”.  Applications made after the 5th day of the month will be held over until the following month for consideration.  You will know your COS has been approved as it will appear on your SMS account on the allocation date.  This will allow you to assign the COS to the migrant worker.

Why do I need to renew my organisation’s unrestricted COS allowance?

Although some Sponsor Licence holders receive an automatic renewal of their COS allowance after the 6th April based on the previous year’s allocation, many don’t.  The Home Office, has, in the past, reset many allocations back to naught.  If this happens to your business, you will be unable to recruit any migrant Employees until you organise a renewal request, submit it to UK Visas and immigration, and they have a chance to review it.  Note – the latter stage of the process may not happen in a hurry.

How do I know if I need to renew my unrestricted COS allocation?

For HR directors, heads of department or owner-operators of organisations who hold a Tier 2 or 5 Sponsor Licence, you will need to renew your unrestricted COS allocation if:

  • You wish to hire a high-earning migrant worker who currently does not work for your company.  For example, you may wish to headhunt an IT specialist from another organisation or employ a highly-skilled person for a job which features on the Shortage Occupation List.
  • Your organisation frequently engages in inter-company transfers and you plan on bringing staff from offices outside the EEA to the UK.
  • You currently have non-EEA nationals on your staff who will need to extend their Leave to Remain in the UK in the next 12 months.

The best course of immediate action for HR directors, heads of departments or owner-operators who hold a Sponsor Licence is to work out the number of COS you will require over the course of the year, and send in your application well before the 6th April deadline.

How OTS Solicitors can help

Our London-based immigration solicitors can provide the best legal advice and representation to Sponsor Licence holders.  Not only can we help you meet April’s deadline for renewing your unrestricted COS allocation, we can manage every aspect of your Sponsor Licence duties and responsibilities and ensure you are fully compliant at all times.

We understand how busy HR directors and senior managers are, and the devastating impact non-compliance can have on a Sponsor Licence holder.  Home Office officials frequently turn up unannounced to premises to check Sponsor Licence holders are keeping accurate records and do not have any illegal migrants working for them.

If Home Office officials find your organisation is failing in some of its compliance responsibilities, they can downgrade, suspend or revoke your Sponsor Licence.  This can drastically affect your company’s ability to meet existing consumer and other contractual obligations, as you will be unable to issue any further COS until the situation is rectified.

To ensure your business is fully compliant at all times, it is imperative to invest in professional immigration law advice throughout the life of your Sponsor Licence.

OTS Solicitors is one of the most respected immigration law firms in London and is a Legal 500 leading firm.  By making an appointment with one of our business immigration solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available in the UK today.  Contact us on 0207 936 9960 to speak to one of our immigration consultants.

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