New Sponsor Guidance on Defined Certificate of Sponsorship (DCoS) Applications

Business Immigration, 12 March 2024

UK Visas and Immigration guidance on applications for Defined Certificates of Sponsorship (DCoS) under the points-based system (PBS) has been updated on 12 March 2024.

A sponsor must request a DCoS before they assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to an overseas worker applying for entry clearance to the UK in the Skilled Worker visa route.

The key change is that a DCoS application must now include weekly working hours – an average figure is acceptable if this varies.  From 11 March 2024, there is now a dedicated field on the DCoS application for this information to be detailed.  This information will help the Home Office to confirm whether the stated salary meets the Skilled Worker salary requirements. 

The updated guidance additionally clarifies that if the number of weekly hours is subject to negotiation or final agreement, you should enter the number of hours you would normally expect workers in a similar role to work each week and provide an explanation in the ‘Summary of job description’ field. You must subsequently, confirm the correct number of hours by adding a sponsor note when you assign the CoS to a worker.

Additional guidance has also been published about genuine vacancies and how genuine employment checks may be made in relation to a DCoS application when it is placed ‘Under Review’.

What is a Defined Certificate of Sponsorship (DCoS)?

There are 2 types of CoS you can assign on the Skilled Worker UK visa route: ‘Defined’ and ‘Undefined’ CoS.

If the person you wish to sponsor will be applying for entry clearance from outside of the UK, you must first apply for a ‘Defined’ CoS for them. You must wait until this application has been approved before you can assign the CoS to the worker. You can also apply for a Defined CoS if you have not yet identified a worker but think you may need to sponsor a worker from overseas for a specific role.

If the person you wish to sponsor will be applying for permission to stay from within the UK, you must assign them an ‘Undefined’ CoS from your annual CoS allocation. If you do not have enough CoS left in your allocation to sponsor the worker, you can apply to increase your allocation.

It is very important that you understand the difference between the 2 types of CoS to avoid the application being rejected.

How can I apply for a Defined Certificate of Sponsorship (DCoS)?

In accordance with the new guidance, all of the following information must now be submitted on the Sponsorship Management System (SMS) when making a DCoS application:

  • the number of DCoS required
  • the job title and standard occupational classification code (SOC): for SOC’s 6145 and 6146 (care workers), the location of the role is also required
  • the salary
  • weekly working hours – an average figure is acceptable if this varies
  • 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
  • the work start and end dates

What happens if all of the above information is not included in the DCoS application?

The Executive Officer (EO) must make a pre-assessment to determine the risk of non-compliance with the guidance and Immigration Rules, for example, the job description details are incomplete or suggest non-compliance or a non-genuine vacancy, or there is a marker on the licence that requires further action.

Only cases that seem to meet the skill and salary criteria in the initial sift and that do not have a marker that requires further action do not need further information or review. These can be put forward for panel consideration. If further information is required, the application will be marked for further scrutiny and placed ‘Under Review’.

If an application is placed ‘Under Review’, additional guidance has also been added about genuine vacancies.  Genuine employment checks could be made in relation to the role for which the DCoS application has been made which could include, but which is not limited to:

  • salary confirmation (including hours per week)
  • clarification of occupation code and skill level requesting references to confirm the worker’s experience if appropriate and job descriptions (to compare to Appendix Skilled Occupations)
  • hierarchy chart showing current employees and any vacancies that need to be filled
  • service contracts (if appropriate) to ensure the sponsor is providing a non-routine service or project
  • previous CoS usage and DCoS requests

If such additional information is requested, you are normally given 5 working days to provide the response and if you do not respond by the deadline date, the application will be rejected.

How can we help?

We are experienced in helping businesses of all sizes manage the sponsorship and Skilled Worker UK visa application processes.

We can provide comprehensive advice to employers and their HR teams sponsoring foreign nationals as regards the considerations which must be taken into account when applying for a Defined Certificate of Sponsorship (DCoS).  This will ensure that the application meets all criteria in the initial sift and does not have a marker attached that requires further information or review.

If you wish to apply for a Sponsor Licence to hire foreign nationals in the UK, we can also assist.

For more detailed UK immigration advice and for any other questions on this and other UK immigration developments, please contact us at