UK visa sponsorship for employers

Certificates of UK visa sponsorship

Guide

You must assign a certificate of sponsorship to each foreign worker you employ. This is an electronic record, not a physical document. Each certificate has its own number which a worker can use to apply for a visa.

When you assign the certificate to a worker, they must use it to apply for their visa within 3 months. They must not apply for their visa more than 3 months before the start date of the job listed on the certificate.

Defined certificates

These are for people applying on a Skilled Worker visa from outside the UK.

You must apply for defined certificates for these workers through the sponsorship management system (SMS). You’ll get access to this when you get your licence.

When you get the certificate

Applications are usually approved within one working day. It may take longer if UKVI need to carry out further checks on the information in your application.

Defined certificates will appear in your SMS account once they have been approved. You can then assign them to a worker.

Undefined certificates

These are for Skilled Workers applying from inside the UK, and applicants on all other visas.

When you apply for your licence you’ll be asked to estimate how many undefined certificates you’ll need for Workers and Temporary Workers in the first year.

Certificate costs

Certificates are free for citizens of the following countries:

Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden or Turkey.

For other citizens, you need to pay for each certificate.

Type of certificate Cost per certificate
Worker £199
Temporary Worker £21


If you assign a certificate of sponsorship to a worker on a Skilled Worker or Intra-company Transfer visa, you might also need to pay the immigration skills charge.