Investor Visa

There are two types of certificates of sponsorship (CoS) that an employer may issue namely restricted and unrestricted CoS.

Restricted CoS

These are for:

 Tier 2 (General) workers currently abroad who’ll be paid less than £153,500 a year; and

 family members (dependents) of Tier 4 migrants; and

 You must apply for restricted certificates for these workers through the sponsorship management system (SMS). You’ll get access to this when you get your licence.

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

Unrestricted CoS

When you apply for your licence you’ll be asked to estimate how many Tier 2 and Tier 5 certificates you’ll need. These are called unrestricted certificates because there’s no limit on how many you can get.


Restricted CoS (Government annual limit – currently 20,700 per year/ 1725 per month)

Unrestricted CoS (Employer has limit but no Government limit)


Applies to all new overseas visa applications if salary = less than £152,100 (£153,500 from 6 April 2014) or applicant = recent T4 dependentApplies to employees in the UK, switching into T2, extending T2, ‘High Earners’ (£152,100 or above salary- £153,500 from 6 April 2014) or Croatian Nationals
Normal recruitment process occurs Resident Labour Market Test carried out/ exemption appliedAnnual request made by employer for CoS-once granted, can issue this type of CoS to eligible employees
Employer applies to Home Office for Restricted CoS. Requests are ‘ranked’ and applications have to score 32+ points to be grantedNormal recruitment process, Resident Labour Market Test carried out or exemption applied
Home Office assess requests each month (so it could take up to a month to receive a Restricted CoS)Pre-CoS checks carried out by employer or us, CoS issued (generally within 6 months of advertising post-sometimes 12 months possible for HE Teaching posts)
If CoS approved, employer then assign it to the employee in the normal wayEmployee liaises with employer or with us for Immigration Advice, makes T2 visa application within 3 months of CoS issue date
Employee makes visa application (normally) outside the UK & is hopefully granted a Tier 2 visaTier 2 Visa issued (usually within 4-8 weeks for postal applications)