Contacting HR

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London WC1E 7HB
Tel: +44 020 7679 1843

Right to Work FAQs

Department FAQs

Overseas Worker FAQs

Student FAQs

Department FAQs

General information about Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS)

Questions

  1. What is the Points Based Immigration System (PBIS) and Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS)?
  2. Which are the EEA countries?
  3. What are the various employment tiers of the PBIS?
    Tier 1
    Tier 2
    Tier 5
  4. Switching Tiers
  5. What do Certificates of Sponsorship look like?
  6. How long after a post is advertised do I have to obtain a CoS for the successful applicant?
  7. I have a current CoS or work permit, can I undertake supplementary work?
  8. What is the maximum amount of time that a CoS can be issued for?

1. What is the Points Based Immigration System (PBIS) and Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS)?

A non EEA or Swiss national will need to pass a points based assessment before being given permission to enter or remain in the UK and, if applying under Tier 2 or 5, will require a sponsor to do so. UCL will issue a CoS to an applicant with a job offer, or a sponsored researcher, when satisfied that there has been strict adherence to the sponsorship duties detailed by the UK Visas & Immigration.

2. Which are the EEA countries?

An up-to-date list of countries in the European Economic Area (EEA) together with details of other citizens who do not need permission to work in the United Kingdom can be found on the UK Visas and Immigration website

3. What are the various employment tiers of the PBIS?

Tier 1- Exceptional Talent or Post Study Worker

The Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa route is available for exceptional people in the natural sciences, medical sciences, engineering, social sciences and humanities and the arts who wish to enter the UK. People may apply to enter the UK through this route if:

There is an annual limit of 1000 places per annum, nationally.

Applicants should apply directly to UK Visas & Immigration. UK Visas & Immigration will send the documentation to one of four designated Competent Bodies (the Royal Society, Arts Council England, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the British Academy) who will advise whether the applicant meets the exceptional talent or exceptional promise criteria.

There will be no single definition of "exceptional talent". The criteria applied by each of the Designated Competent Bodies when deciding whether a particular applicant is “exceptionally talented” are published on the UK Visas & Immigration website. See also UCL HR’s guidance on The role of the Competent Bodies

The Tier 1 Post Study Worker route closed on 6 April 2012. Job applicants with a valid post study worker visa issued before this date may be appointed.

An applicant who is in one of these categories is free to look for a job (with only limited exceptions) without requiring employer sponsorship.

Tier 2- Sponsored skilled worker

This tier is linked to specific employment. An applicant must meet specific requirements about the type of job, salary and qualifications. Individuals will also need to meet English language and financial maintenance requirements.

Tier 5- Sponsored Researchers

This tier is limited to specific sponsorship arrangements. Please see the questions on sponsored researchers for more information. Through this route we can also sponsor a Visiting Academic (as distinct from an Academic Visitor!) who will be paid to give lectures, act as an examiner or work on a supernumerary research collaboration and who is required to be in the country for more than one month.

4. Switching Tiers

If the applicant currently has permission to stay in the UK under any of the following immigration categories, they can apply to Tier 2 (General) from inside the UK:

see UK Visas & Immigration website for 'more information'.

If they are not in any of these categories, they must leave the UK and make their Tier 2 (General) application from abroad.

If they are switching from Tier 4 or the former categories of student, student nurse, student re-sitting an examination, overseas qualified nurse, person writing up a thesis, postgraduate doctor or dentist or student union sabbatical officer, they must have lawfully obtained a UK bachelors or masters degree, postgraduate certificate in education or professional graduate diploma of education during their current or last permission to stay (period of continuous leave). If they are a PhD student, they do not need to have completed their course, but they must have completed at least 12 months' study towards it in the UK.

If they come to the UK under Tier 5 they must leave the UK at the end of their stay. They should not view this as a route for establishing a long-term career in the UK.

5. What do Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) look like?

The CoS is not an actual certificate or paper document but is a virtual document similar to a database record. Each CoS has a unique reference number and contains information about the job for which the CoS is being issued, as well as the migrant’s personal details. When a CoS is issued the applicant will need to take this to their Embassy or Overseas Diplomatic post (out of the UK) or Home Office (in UK) to continue the points based assessment.

6. How long after a post is advertised do I have to obtain a CoS for the successful applicant?

If you want to sponsor a migrant for a PhD level position that you have advertised, a CoS must be issued within 12 months of first advertising the job.  After a CoS is issued a leave to remain application must be made within three months of the CoS being granted, else it will expire.

7. I have a current CoS or work permit, can I undertake supplementary work?

You can undertake additional work but only under certain conditions. The work:

8. What is the maximum amount of time that a CoS can be issued for?

A CoS can last for a maximum of three years. When this is coming to an end an extension must be applied for. The extension can take the total period up to a maximum of six years.

What do you want to do?


(Select a query from the drop down list above or click here to view the whole document)

FAQs from overseas workers

Questions

23. What is the Points Based Immigration System (PBIS) and Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS)?

24. Applying for a CoS

25. After a CoS has been obtained

26. Meeting the maintenance check

27. English language requirement

28. How many points do I need to be issued with a visa?

29. After receiving leave to remain

30. Can I switch tiers?

31. The Youth Mobility Scheme

32. The Ancestry Scheme

33. Identity Cards for Foreign Nationals

23. What is the Points Based Immigration Systems (PBIS) and Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS)?

A non EEA or Swiss national will need to pass a points-based assessment before being given permission to enter or remain in the UK and, if applying under Tier 2 or 5, will require a sponsor to do so. UCL will issue a CoS to an applicant with a job offer, or a sponsored researcher, when satisfied that there has been strict adherence to the sponsorship duties detailed by UK Visas & Immigration.

24. Applying for a CoS

How can I determine if I would be eligible for a CoS?

The Border Agency has a self assessment points based calculator to determine whether a migrant worker would be eligible for a CoS. The calculator is available here.

I have a current CoS with my old employer but have taken a new job with UCL. Can I start work using my old CoS until my new one with UCL is approved?

No, the CoS is job specific and you must wait before a CoS is approved for your new role at UCL and you are granted entry clearance or further leave to remain by UK Visas & Immigration before you start work.

Who will pay for my application for a CoS?

UCL will pay for the application for a CoS. You would need to pay the costs for any dependents who are seeking a visa. See UCL policy on the payment of immigration costs.

25. After a CoS has been obtained

I have been granted my CoS what do I need to do now?

On receipt of the CoS a member of HR Employment Contract Administration Team will be in contact to provide advice on what the next steps are. The action required differs depending upon whether you are already in the UK or in another country. You will need to quote the CoS number as part of the application process to either enter or remain in the UK. As part of this process UKV&I will refer to the information provided when obtaining the CoS.

I have been granted a CoS but I have not received my certificate?

The CoS is not an actual certificate or paper document but is a virtual document similar to a database record.  Each CoS has a unique reference number and contains information about the job for which the CoS is being issued, as well as your personal details.

Once I have received my CoS how long is my leave to remain application likely to take?

Information about current timescales is updated regularly and can be found on the UK Visas & Immigration website.     

Are there any time limits for receiving a CoS and applying for leave to remain?

Yes you must have been granted a CoS within 6 months of the job being first advertised. The only exception to this is PhD level  roles where you must have been granted a CoS within 12 months of the job being advertised. Once you obtain a CoS you must apply for leave to remain within 3 months else it will expire. In addition leave to remain can only be applied for within 3 months of the commencement of your employment, as stated in your CoS.

Who will pay for my leave to remain visa?

It depends on the situation. If you are in country then UCL will normally pay for the further leave to remain postal application for you. Dependents will not be paid for by UCL.  Higher cost 'in person' applications will be paid for by you. If you are applying for a visa from outside the UK you will need to pay the costs of the application yourself. This process will be less costly if you apply for leave to remain for any dependent at the same time as your own application.
See UCL policy on the payment of immigration costs.

26. Maintenance Check

What funds are required for the maintenance check and how long must they be held for?

Evidence needs to be provided that you have £945 of available funds which must have been held for a minimum of three months immediately before the date of application. You will also need evidence of £600 per dependent who is accompanying you which must have been held for the same time period.

What documents are required as proof for the maintenance check?

Only the following specified documents will be accepted as evidence of proof of funds:

i) Personal bank or building society statements covering three full consecutive months. The most recent statement must be dated no earlier than one calendar month before the date of the application.

ii) Building society pass book covering the three month period.

iii) Letter from bank confirming funds and that they have been in the bank for at least three months.

iv) Letter from a financial institution regulated by either the Financial Services Authority or, in the case of overseas accounts, the home regulator (official regulatory body for the country in which the institution operates and the funds are located) confirming funds.

For more information please see pages  81-82 of  the UKVI guidance on immigration rules

I currently live overseas. How can I check I have the required funds to meet the maintenance check?

The UK Visas & Immigration will use the website http://www.oanda.com/ to convert currencies. You should use this website to assess whether you have the required amount to meet the maintenance check in pounds sterling. Alternatively UCL can issue a letter underwriting the maintenance of up to £945 for the first month. UCL will not normally underwrite dependents so you will still need to provide evidence of this separately.

27. English language requirement

How can I prove I have the necessary standard of English?
There are three ways that you can meet the English Language requirement:

If I need to take an English language test where can I take it?

See the UKV&I website for a  list of approved tests.   

Who will pay for the English language test?

You will need to pay for any English language test you need to take; this will not be paid for by UCL.

28. How many points do I need to be issued with a visa?

You must score 50 points for having a Tier 2 (General) certificate of sponsorship, and for being paid an appropriate salary. These are known as your 'attributes'.

Points are available for your attributes as follows:

Attribute

Points available

Assigned a certificate of sponsorship, because:

  • the job offer passes Resident Labour Market Test;
  • a Resident Labour Market Test exemption applies; or
  • you are continuing to work in the same occupation for the
  • same sponsor.
  •  

The Certificate of sponsorship page explains how you can score these points.

30

Appropriate salary and allowances
The Appropriate salary and allowances page explains how you can score these points.

20

Points for your English language ability

You must score 10 points for English language ability.UKV&I website

Points for maintenance (funds)

You must score 10 points for maintenance (funds).UKV&I website

29. After receiving leave to remain

Can I enter the UK before my job starts?

You can enter the United Kingdom up to 14 days before you start your job. The start date of your job is the one given by your sponsor in your CoS.

I currently have leave to remain and am working at UCL, whose responsibility is it that my leave to remain does not expire?

Reminders will be sent when your leave to remain is approaching expiry but it is your responsibility that your leave to remain does not expire. You must act to extend your leave to remain if it is expiring and bring the original document to HR for a copy to be placed on your personnel file confirming the continued right to work in the UK. If your leave to remain expires it will lead to dismissal.

I have a current CoS or work permit, can I undertake supplementary work?

You can undertake additional work but only under certain conditions. The work:

You must continue to work for UCL in the employment that the CoS records that you are being sponsored to do. If you meet these conditions the UK Visas & Immigration do not need to be informed of the supplementary work. Any additional work that you undertake should be discussed with your manager and should not have any detrimental effect on your work/life balance or contravene working time regulations.

30. Switching Tiers

If you currently have permission to stay in the UK under any of the following immigration categories, you can apply to Tier 2 (General) from inside the UK:

see UK Visas & Immigration website under 'switch to this tier' for more information.

If you are not in any of these categories, you must leave the UK and make your Tier 2 (General) application from abroad.

If you are switching from Tier 4 or the former categories of student, student nurse, student re-sitting an examination, overseas qualified nurse, person writing up a thesis, postgraduate doctor or dentist or student union sabbatical officer, you must have lawfully obtained a UK bachelors or masters degree, postgraduate certificate in education or professional graduate diploma of education during your current or last permission to stay (period of continuous leave). If you are a PhD student, you do not need to have completed your course, but you must have completed at least 12 months' study towards it in the UK.

If you come to the UK under Tier 5 you must leave the UK at the end of your stay. You should not view this as a route for establishing a long-term career in the UK.

31. Youth Mobility Scheme

Am I eligible to work under the youth mobility scheme or working holidaymaker scheme?

The working holidaymaker scheme has now been replaced by the youth mobility scheme. The youth mobility scheme is for young people from participating countries who would like to experience life in the United Kingdom. Sponsors under the youth mobility scheme are the national governments of the participating countries. The participating countries are:

As the sponsors of their young nationals, the governments of participating countries will be saying that they:

Successful applicants will be free to do whatever work they like during their stay in the United Kingdom, except for self employment (subject to certain exceptions), working as a professional sportsperson (including as a sports coach) or working as a doctor in training. You may work up to 2 years under the youth mobility scheme.

To find out more about the scheme download the more detailed guidance from the UK Visas & Immigration.

32. Ancestry visas

Am I eligible to work under the UK ancestry visa scheme?

If you are a Commonwealth citizen who can prove that at least one of your grandparents was born in the UK, you can apply for an ancestry visa which allows you to live and work in the UK without restriction for an initial period of 5 years. 
Full details can be found on the UK Visas & Immigration website

33. Identity Cards for Foreign Nationals

Who does this apply to?

The UK Visas & Immigration issues compulsory identity cards to certain categories of non-European foreign nationals when they are granted permission to extend their stay in the UK. This now includes:

If you are a migrant in one of these categories and apply to extend your stay in the UK, you must enrol your biometrics (fingerprints and facial image) before the UK Visas & Immigration decide whether to give you permission to stay. If your application is successful, you will be given an identity card.

How to enrol your biometrics

See the latest information on the UK Visas & Immigration website for information on how and where to enrol your biometrics.

Foreign nationals can book an appointment either through the new online booking service or by telephone. In addition, postal applicants living within certain postcodes are now able to enrol their biometrics at a limited number of Crown Post Offices nationwide.  This is a walk-in service, with no need to book an appointment, but currently this trial only applies to individuals who have been sent an invitation to enrol their biometrics via the walk-in service. 

For more information see UK Visas & Immigration Website.  

Student FAQs

Questions

34.       I am currently a student can I work as well?
35.       I am near the completion of my studies can I apply for a visa?
36.       I have a Tier 1 Post-study visa, can I still work?
37.       I am employed, have a Tier 1 Post-study visa and wish to transfer to a Tier 2 Certificate of Sponsorship. Can I do this?
38.       How can I find out more about student visas?

34.  I am currently a student can I work as well?

Students on a Tier 4 visa sponsored by and studying directly with higher education institutions may work up to 20 hours pw during term time, where taking courses at degree level or above and 10 hours pw for students undertaking courses at below degree level. All students studying directly with higher education institutions will be able to work full time during vacations.

Students on a Tier 4 visa, at a publicly funded further education college may only work 10 hours pw during term time and full time during the university vacation period.

From summer 2011 students not studying at a higher education institution or a publicly funded further education college will not be granted permission to work at any time during their studies.

35. I am near the completion of my studies can I apply for a visa?

You can apply under Tier 2 (General). This sub-route is open to recent graduates from a Higher Education Institute, licensed by UK Visas & Immigration, with a Bachelors, Masters, PhD, PGCE or PGDE qualification. Applicants must have an offer of a skilled job and be paid at least £20,300pa. Unlike other Tier 2 sponsorships the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) does not have to be met.

To qualify for this category you must be in the UK and your Tier 4 student visa must not have expired.

Full information is available on the UK Visas & Immigration  website.

36. I have a Tier 1 Post-study visa, can I still work?

If you already hold a Tier 1 (Post-study work) visa you are free to look for work without having a sponsor.  However the UK Visas & Immigration expects that you will switch into another tier of the points-based system as soon as you are able to.

37. I am employed, have a Tier 1 Post-study visa and wish to transfer to a Tier 2 Certificate of Sponsorship. Can I do this?

You can switch from the Post-study worker category of Tier 1 to Tier 2 without UCL having to advertise the position and meet the Resident Labour Market Test as long as:

The RLMT will not need to be met in these cases and the post will not have to be advertised. To transfer from one of these categories to Tier 2 your department would need to complete the application form for a CoS and return it to the relevant HR Employment Contract Administration contact who will process the application. Upon receiving your CoS you will need to provide evidence that you have worked for UCL for at least six months prior to your application. Only the following list of documents will be valid:

EITHER

i) Payslips

These should be either formal payslips or on UCL headed paper. If payslips are not on headed paper then a print out will need to be signed and stamped by your HR Employment Contract Administration contact.

OR

ii) Personal bank or building society statements covering six full consecutive months

OR

iii) Building society pass book covering the previous six month period immediately before the application

38. How can I find out more about student visas?

Please see the student site for further information about student visas.