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UK based Employers

Certificate of sponsorship

As a UK-based employer holding a sponsorship licence, you can sponsor a non-EU national (they obtain a Tier 2 work permit) using a certificate of sponsorship.

Issuing the certificate of sponsorship

Once an employer has a sponsorship licence, they can issue Tier 2 certificates of sponsorship. These are divided into two different types: Unrestricted and restricted.

The unrestricted category

If the candidate falls into the unrestricted category, an employer will not need to seek permission from the Home Office to issue a certificate of sponsorship.

The unrestricted category is for an employee:

  • With a salary of £153,500 or above
  • Seeking to extend their employment with their existing employer
  • With an existing certificate of sponsorship with other employers
  • Already in the UK with a current visa type which allows switching to a Tier 2 from within the UK (including the Tier 1 post-study work visa or the Tier 4 student visa)
  • Being transferred from an overseas branch of the UK sponsoring company

The restricted category

This category is generally for candidates who are unable to switch to a Tier 2 visa from within the UK. These candidates need to apply for their visa from overseas, like the Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa, or for those who are already overseas.

If you require a restricted certificate, you should note that there is a cap on the number of potential employees permitted through this scheme. This is currently set at 20,700 for the year and only those who pass a new points-based system will qualify.

Points are earned from the salary amount, whether the job is on the current shortage list and whether the position is at PhD level. An employer must also conduct the resident labour market test. This test is to protect the resident work force and means you must advertise the post to give resident workers the opportunity to apply.

The Home Office has categorised, rated and coded every occupation and specified a minimum salary requirement for each code. Whatever type of certificate is required, you will need to decide upon the appropriate code and offer at least the minimum salary stated. Apart from a few occupations in the creative sector, jobs will need to be classed at degree level (NQF level 6) as a minimum.

There is no government fee for apply for a sponsorship licence. However, there is a new skills charge when taking on new non-EU employees on the Tier 2 Work Permit scheme.

Click here for more information on a sponsorship licence.

Contact our work permits team


Phone: +44 (0) 20 7759 7584

South Africa

Cape Town

Regent Square
Doncaster Road
Kenilworth 7708 +27 (0) 21 657 2120


201 The Annex
Ridgeside Office Park
Umhlanga +27 (0) 31 536 8843

United Kingdom


Castlewood House
77/91 New Oxford Street
WC1A 1DG +44 (0) 20 7759 7514


5-7 Selsdon Road
South Croydon
CR2 6PU +44 (0) 20 7759 7581



9 Yarra Street
South Yarra
VIC 3141 +613 (0) 8651 4500

Sable International is a trading name of 1st Contact Money Limited (company number 07070528), registered in England and Wales. We are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK (FCA no. 517570), the Financial Services Conduct Authority in South Africa (1st Contact Money [PTY] Ltd - FSP no. 41900) and hold an Australian Financial Services License issued by ASIC to deal in foreign exchange (1st Contact Group - AFS License number 335 126).

Please note: Sable International is a trading name of Philip Gamble and Co. Ltd. Philip Gamble and Co. Ltd is registered in the UK with the Office of the Immigration Service Commissioner (OISC) under no. F2001-00004. Our staff based outside of the UK are not regulated by the OISC and may be involved in some client casework. However, they work to the same high standards as our UK staff and clients receive the same service regardless of which office they engage with.

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