“If your license is approved, it will be valid for 4 years. Once your license is granted, the Home Office will provide you with the credentials needed to access their ‘Sponsorship Management System’ (known as ‘SMS’). When logged onto this system, you will be able to generate a specific document that is necessary to hire any non-EEA employee — a Certificate of Sponsorship (known as ‘CoS’)”
Each CoS has a unique number and enables the prospective non-EEA employee to apply for a visa or leave to remain in the UK. A CoS can only be used by the specific individual it has been assigned to and they must do it within three months of the date the CoS is issued.
If your prospective employee is outside the UK when you make them the offer, you will need to generate a ‘restricted CoS’ — so called because the government has placed a cap on the number of such certificates that can be issued in any given year. This is currently capped at 20,700 certificates per year.
If they are already in the UK in an eligible visa category, however, you will need an ‘unrestricted CoS’ — there is no limit on these.
Having a Certificate of Sponsorship is a prerequisite for your prospective employee to be able to apply for a work visa (known correspondingly as ‘Tier 2 Work Visa’).
You can only recruit a non-EEA employee if you have completed a resident labour market test and can show that no suitable settled worker is available to fill the job, or the job is exempt from the resident labour market test.