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Applying for a Defined Certificate of Sponsorship

Applying for a Defined Certificate of Sponsorship (DCoS)

Sep 21, 2022
Last Updated on May 21, 2024

What is a Defined Certificate of Sponsorship?

A Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is an electronic document with a unique reference number, that is issued by the sponsor, to a visa applicant.

Defined Certificates of Sponsorship, are used specifically for Skilled Workers applying from outside the UK and you must hold an A-rated licence to sponsor someone under this route.

Since December 2020, there have been two types of CoS – defined and undefined. Here we are talking about Defined Certificates of Sponsorship, which were formerly known as Restricted Certificates. 

How do we apply for a Defined Certificate of Sponsorship?

Before you can sponsor a migrant worker, you must first assign the Certificate of Sponsorship using the Sponsorship Management System (SMS). 

Defined Certificates of Sponsorship are used to sponsor Skilled Workers and your Sponsor Licence and you must hold an A-rated Worker Sponsor Licence to assign a Defined Certificate of Sponsorship. 

Assigning a Defined CoS is a two-step process. First you must request a Defined Certificate, then, once granted by the Home Office, the Certificate can be assigned to a candidate.

You will first need access to the Sponsor Management System (SMS). Then, your company’s Level 1, will need to complete a form on the system. They will need to provide the following information:

  • number of DCoS required
  • job title, standard occupation classification code (SOC) and a brief job summary
  • salary
  • whether the post meets the shortage occupation criteria
  • whether the worker has a PhD and if so, it should state why the qualification is relevant to the job and whether the PhD is in a Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) subject) and if so, how
  • work start and end date

Do you have a way to calculate the sponsor licence UK cost?

Yes! Use our calculator below to calculate your sponsor licence visa cost.

Please answer the questions and you will be able to calculate the approx cost for The sponsor licence –

Once the required information is entered onto SMS, the information will be considered by the Home Office. A decision on a Defined CoS request is usually given within one working day. If further information is required from the sponsor, it could take 10 – 15 days (or more) to process.

There is no cost to apply for Defined Certificates of Sponsorship, and no priority service for Defined Certificate of Sponsorship applications.

Once the Defined CoS has been granted, the sponsor must then “assign” the CoS to the worker. The Defined CoS will be valid to assign for 3 months, from the day it is granted.

The worker then uses their assigned CoS (reference number) to complete their Skilled Worker visa application. 

They will need to make their visa application within three months of being assigned the CoS. 

Please note, once assigned, CoS are not transferable to other candidates.

When requesting and assigning a CoS, any errors on the Defined CoS form could result in a rejection of the Defined CoS request or later, a refusal of the Skilled Worker visa.

How much does the Defined Certificate of Sponsorship cost?

The cost to assign a CoS to a Skilled Worker is £199. This does not include the Immigration Skills Charge which is currently £364 (per year the CoS is assigned) for a small sponsor and £1000 per year for a large sponsor.


Defined Certificates of Sponsorship are an important part of the Skilled Worker’s visa application. Without a validly assigned Defined CoS, the candidate cannot make a successful entry clearance application as a Skilled Worker. It is important to understand the requirements for the Certificates fully, since any mistakes can have a significant effect on a worker’s visa application; even to the extent of it being denied. 

A Y & J Solicitors is a specialist immigration law firm, with extensive experience. We have an in-depth understanding of immigration law and are professional and results focused. For assistance with your Defined Certificate of Sponsorship application or any other UK immigration law concerns, please contact us on +44 20 7404 7933 or at Contact US today. We’re here to help! 

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A Y & J Solicitors

A Y & J Solicitors is a multi-award winning, 14+ years experienced, recommended by Legal 500, boutique UK immigration law firm based in Central London. Having assisted 5000+ clients, we are well equipped to help you with our ‘In It To Win It’ approach. For your assurance and confidence, we are pleased to share our trust rating of 4.9/5 based on 1000+ reviews on Trustpilot & Google.

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