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Self-issuing a Certificate of Sponsorship

A Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is a mandatory electronic document that must be assigned by the sponsor licence holder when they wish to employ a foreign worker.

There are two types of CoS: defined and undefined.

  • Defined CoS must be issued when the worker/applicant is applying for their visa outside of the country.

  • An undefined CoS is for when such applications are being made in-country.

It is important to note that assigning the wrong CoS carries significant consequences, including revocation of the company’s sponsor licence.


Generally, self-issuing is strictly prohibited. This includes close relatives and partners:

  • a spouse or civil partner

  • an unmarried or a same-sex partner

  • a parent or step-parent

  • a son or step-son

  • a daughter or step-daughter

  • a brother, step-brother or half-brother

  • a sister, step-sister or half-sister

  • a nephew, niece, or cousin

  • an aunt or uncle

  • a father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, son-in-law or

  • a daughter-in-law

There is only one exception to this rule, and that is when applying under the UK Expansion Worker route. This route allows for the holder of the UK Expansion Worker licence to self-issue a certificate of sponsorship to themselves, provided that the person doing so is both the Authorising Officer and Level 1 User. It should be noted that if this process is followed, then at first, the licence rating will be a provisional one with a CoS allocation limit of 1, which must be assigned to the person intending to self-issue for the purposes of acquiring entry clearance as a UK Expansion Worker.

Once they are granted entry clearance, they must update their details on the sponsorship management system (SMS) as soon as possible to include the following details:

  1. the type of permission they have (this will be UK Expansion Worker)

  2. the expiry date of their permission

  3. their Home Office reference number (this can be their Visa Application Form number, their biometric residence permit number, or any other reference number provided by the Home Office to the applicant)

  4. their UK address (when they know this)

One thing that must be noted is that before any other workers can be sponsored, the Authorising Officer must also make a request via the SMS for the organisation's licence rating to be changed from Provisional to an A-rating.

What is not considered self-issuing?

In situations where there are 2 or more Level 1 Users, if one Level 1 User issues a CoS for a close relative or partner of the other Level 1 User, or even for that Level 1 User himself, this would not be considered as self-issuing and is permitted.

How can we help?

By appointing one of our experienced business immigration specialists as an additional Level 1 User, you will be able to solve the issue of self-issuing and do so in a cost effective and stress- free manner.


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