Before you can apply for a Tier 2 (General) visa to work in the UK, you need a job offer and a certificate of sponsorship (CoS) from a licensed sponsor. Find out more.
What is a certificate of sponsorship?
A certificate of sponsorship (CoS) is a reference number which holds information about the job and your personal details. It is not a certificate or paper document.
Before you can apply for a Tier 2 (General) visa to work in the UK, you need a job offer and a certificate of sponsorship (CoS) from a licensed sponsor.
Your sponsor will either be your employer or deanery, or LETB (Local Education and Training Board) and if you are offered a job, the CoS has to be issued within six months of the job being advertised.
Your sponsor will give you your CoS reference number and you can use the number to apply for your Tier 2 (General) visa, at which point you will be assessed regarding your attributes or points, to see if you are eligible for the visa.
Points criteria, also known as attributes, relate to the need to have certain qualifications, be earning at least a set amount in the job you have been offered, have enough money to support yourself along with any dependants, and prove you can speak, understand and write English to a certain level.
Your sponsor must also give you some other information to help you to apply, such as how much you will be paid.
You will need to add your CoS reference number to your Tier 2 (General) visa application form but be aware you can only use it once.
There is a three month time limit from the time that the certificate of sponsorship was assigned to you by your sponsor, during which you must apply for your Tier 2 (General) visa. However, you cannot apply for the Tier 2 (General) visa more than three months in advance of the start date put on the CoS.
Check the list of licensed sponsors
What if I leave my job?
Don't leave your job until you have discussed your options with someone because it could cause major problems. If you are a BMA member you can get advice from our Immigration advice service.
Why would leaving my job cause problems?
Broadly speaking, permission for you to enter or stay in the UK is linked to your employment offer. If you leave your job and stop working, you may lose permission to stay in the UK.
If you move to another job, you may need a new certificate of sponsorship as the change may count as moving to a new employer.
You may also need to meet the Resident Labour Market Test each time you change employer, unless you are exempt.
Who is likely to be most affected by this issue?
Those likely to be most affected are doctors moving from core training (CT2) to specialty training (ST3), and doctors who are rotating through different types of training and are sponsored by an individual hospital or trust each time they change, rather than having an overall sponsorship given by the deanery or LETB.
What is the Resident Labour Market Test? What are the relevant points criteria?
Where do I find out more about Tier 2 visas?