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Immigration Corner | Sponsorship for a charity worker

Published:Tuesday | April 9, 2019 | 12:11 AM
John Bassie
John Bassie

Dear Mr Bassie,

I am being asked by a British organisation to go and work with them as a charity worker. I have been advised that the United Kingdom will still require for me to obtain visa sponsorship from the organisation. Please let me know if this is so.


Dear MS,

An organisation may need a sponsor licence to employ someone from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland to work in the United Kingdom and this includes unpaid work, like running a charity. Sponsoring someone does not guarantee that he/she will be allowed to go to or stay in the United Kingdom.

Organisations must assign a certificate of sponsorship to each foreign worker employed which is an electronic record, not a physical document. Each certificate has its own number which a worker can use to apply for a visa and certificates must be used within three months from when they are assigned.

When an organisation applies for the licence, it will be asked to estimate how many Tier 2 and Tier 5 certificates will be needed.

These are called unrestricted certificates because they can get as many as their business needs. They will need to show, by evidence, that they need the amount of certificates that have been requested. Restricted certificates are for Tier 2 (General) workers who currently will be paid less than £159,600 a year and family members (dependents) of Tier 4 migrants who are switching to a Tier 2 visa.

It should be noted that the organisation must apply for restricted certificates for these workers through the sponsorship management system (SMS).

There is a limited number of restricted certificates available each month and each application is assessed using a points system.

Applications are considered on the first working day after the 10th day of the month. This is called the ‘allocation date’. If the application is made after the 5th day of the month, then the application will be held until the next month’s allocation date. Please note that an application may also be held until the following month’s allocation date so that the details of the application can be checked.

The organisation’s restricted certificate form will appear in the SMS account on the allocation date if the application has been approved at which point a certificate can be assigned to a worker. Please note that persons can apply again if their application is not approved.

A restricted certificate can be issued before the next allocation date in exceptional circumstances. This does not include applications which have been delayed for reasons which could have avoided. The organisation should use their SMS account to make the application and then email: explaining the urgency.

The organisation will need to pay for each certificate of sponsorship. Tier 2 and Tier 5 cost per certificate is £199 and £21 respectively.

If a certificate of sponsorship is assigned to a worker with a Tier 2 (General) or Tier 2 (Intra-company transfer) visa, the organisation might also need to pay the immigration skills charge. This might have to be paid for each foreign worker employed and must be paid if applying for a visa to work in the United Kingdom for six months or more under either a Tier 2 (General) visa or Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) visa.

If the worker has applied for their visa from within the United Kingdom, the organisation must pay the charge, even if they are applying for less than six months. Organisations will not need to pay the immigration skills charge if the worker they are sponsoring:

• Has a Tier 4 (Student) visa and is switching to a Tier 2 (General) visa

• Has a Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Graduate Trainee visa

• Will do a job with a PhD-level standard occupational classification (SOC) code

Please note that the organisation will not need to pay the charge for any of the worker’s dependents, for example, their partner or child.

I hope this helps.

John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email: