Requirements for Skilled Worker sponsorship

Please review information on UKVI and ATAS processing times, HR Staff Compliance team processing times and other updates on our HR Notices webpages here.

If the successful candidate does not have an automatic right to work,  and is not eligible for our preferred route Global Talent Visa or another suitable non-sponsored immigration route, the Skilled Worker Route (SWR) is likely to be the most suitable way for them to obtain permission to work in the UK.

In order to obtain a visa, Skilled Workers must have:

  • a suitable job offer; and
    • be issued with a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from the College; and
    • pass a points-based assessment.

We are only permitted to apply for and issue a CoS if the following requirements have been met and the individual can demonstrate they will score a total of 70 points (50 mandatory and 20 tradeable) across the assessment criteria below:

Mandatory points (50):

  • suitable job offer from an approved sponsor (20 points); and
  • The job meets the appropriate minimum skill level (RQF level 3 (A-level equivalent)), and any specific criteria detailed in the relevant Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code (20 points); and
  • The individual can provide evidence of English Language skills at level B1, by meeting one of the requirements in Appendix English Language (10 points)

Tradeable points (20):

  • The basic salary for the job meets:
  • the general salary threshold (£26,200) and the going rate for the relevant SOC code; or
  • one of the tradeable salary points options (outlined in Standard Occupational Classification and Salary requirements below), if the ‘going rate’ is not met. (20 points)

Please view the following guidance for further information. If the guidance does not answer your question, please contact the Staff Compliance team for specific advice.


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Recruitment & Selection

If the individual was recruited in line with the College’s recruitment guidance and the vacancy has been advertised internally and/or externally, please ensure that you retain the following documentation:

Advert evidence:

  • Screenshot of the archived Imperial vacancies advert, which can be saved retrospectively
  • For adverts placed externally, additional evidence of advert placement e.g. screenshot from Talentlink /other advertising evidence such as email of advert placement/removal from of placement
  • Where the Recruitment Hub team is placing advertisements on your behalf, they will be responsible for providing advert evidence to the Staff Compliance Team, if sponsorship is required.


Although there is no requirement to undertake a Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT), we may need to evidence that the job is a genuine vacancy that:

  • requires the jobholder to perform the specific duties and responsibilities of the job and meets all of the requirements of the relevant route; and
  • does not include dissimilar and/or predominantly lower-skilled duties; and
  • is appropriate to the business in light of its business model, business plan and scale

Evidence of our recruitment and selection process is one of the main ways we can demonstrate that the job is genuine to UKVI.

It is also essential that the individual meets the selection criteria for the job, outlined in the person specification, and holds the appropriate qualifications listed as essential.  

If the individual is named on a research grant award/fellowship, and a genuine recruitment process cannot be undertaken, evidence (i.e. copy of fellowship/grant award letter and evidence of application/award process) should be submitted to HR with the request to hire/contract request. 

Standard Occupational Classification and Salary requirements

The Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) is a common classification of occupational information for the UK. Jobs are classified in terms of their skill level and skill content.

For a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to be issued, a job offer must meet all the following:

  • the appropriate minimum skill level (RQF Level 3 (A-level equivalent)) and any specific criteria detailed in the relevant SOC code within Appendix Skilled Occupations
  • the general salary threshold (£26,200) and the going rate for the relevant SOC code contained in  Appendix Skilled Occupations; or one of the tradeable salary points options (outlined below), if the going rate is not met.
  • Going rates can be pro-rated but the general/minimum salary threshold cannot so part-time staff will need to meet the pro-rated going rate and the general/minimum salary threshold.
  • Salary will be based on guaranteed basic gross pay, excluding allowances.

Transitional arrangements permit guaranteed allowances for those last granted leave in Tier 2 if working for same sponsor until 1 December 2026.

Tradeable criteria

Applicants must score at least 20 points from the following criteria:



Salary equals or exceeds both £26,200 (general salary threshold) and the going rate for the SOC code


PhD qualification in a non-STEM subject relevant to the job


Salary equals or exceeds both £23,580 and 90% of the going rate for the SOC code


PhD qualification in a STEM subject relevant to the job


Salary equals or exceeds both £20,960 (minimum salary threshold) and 80% of the going rate for the SOC code


Job in a shortage occupation


Salary equals or exceeds both £20,960 and 80% of the going rate for the SOC code


Job in a listed health or education occupation


Salary equals or exceeds both £20,960 and 80% of the going rate for the SOC code


Applicant is a New Entrant to the labour market (as designated by the MAC)


Salary equals or exceeds both £20,960 and 70% of the going rate for the SOC code


Other mandatory requirements for sponsorship:

Before a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) can be applied for/assigned, the Individual will need to provide evidence they meet any other Skilled Worker Route requirements, including:

For all sponsored roles:

  • English Language points, which may be satisfied in a number of ways.
  • Evidence that they meet any essential qualification / professional registration as stated on the Person specification

For some roles/individuals: 


Dependent on the evidence required, how long it will take the individual to provide the evidence, this may impact on proposed start date, if there is a delay to a CoS being assigned.  

Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)

A CoS is not an actual certificate or paper document, but a virtual document, similar to database record.  When we assign a CoS the individual will need to quote the CoS number on their application when applying for leave to enter (if outside the UK, using a defined CoS) or leave to remain (if inside the UK, using an undefined CoS).

A CoS is valid for 3 months from the date it was assigned and can only be used once to support an application for leave.  Applications for initial leave cannot be made more than 3 months in advance of the start date quoted on the CoS. If an individual does not use the CoS within the 3-month period to apply for entry clearance or leave to remain, it automatically becomes invalid. 

If the application is refused, the individual would need to be issued with a new CoS in order to make a new application.

Undefined Certificates of Sponsorship – In-country applications for leave to remain

The College has an annual allocation of undefined CoS, which can be issued by the Staff Compliance team, but only to the following individuals:

  • In country applicants:
    • whose College contracts are being extended
    • who are subject to transitional arrangements
    • who are changing employment within the College where the new job is in a different SOC code
    • who are moving from another employer and starting work for the College
    • who are switching from another eligible immigration category into the SWR. Individuals will be able to switch into the SWR from most immigration categories, other than Visitor routes.

Defined Certificate of Sponsorship – Out of country applications for leave to enter

Individuals applying for leave to enter the UK must be issued with a Defined CoS.

The Staff Compliance team is required to apply to UKVI as they need a Defined CoS. These applications will normally be processed by UKVI within 1-2 working days. UKVI may request additional information and/or evidence from the College during this process.

Once the Defined CoS has been granted, the Staff Compliance Team will then assign it to the individual.

CoS fees & Immigration Skills Charge (ISC)

July 2023 Please note that the UK Government have announced that there will be increases to sponsorship, visa application, health surcharge and related fees. We are awaiting confirmation on the exact rates, and when the increases will be effective from, and please check our notices webpage for updates.

CoS fees are payable by the hiring department. £199 is the standard rate.

Except for jobs in PhD level SOC codes and those switching from the Student/Tier 4 route, departments will also need to pay the Immigration Skills Charge (£364 for first 12 months plus £182 for each additional 6 months) in addition to the CoS fee.

One Virtual Credit card should be raised for the total of the CoS and Skills Charge fees.

The relevant HR Staff Hub / Recruitment Hub / Staff Compliance team will advise the total VCC sum that will need to be generated by the hiring department

Submitting an application for leave to enter/remain

Individuals will need to follow the Skilled Worker visa guidance to apply for leave to enter / leave to remain and pay the appropriate application fee and Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) costs.

Assistance with payment of UK immigration application fees for members of staff and/or their dependants is available, as outlined in the College’s expenses policy, which allows either for departments to reimburse UK immigration application fees at their discretion or for a salary advance to support payment of application fees and legal support costs where necessary.

Individuals with a job offer from the NHS or an organisation providing medical services to the NHS in specified health or education SOC codes may be eligible for a fast track Health and Care Visa which attracts reduced application fees and exemption from the IHS for both the applicant and their dependants. However, we advise to check this with the Staff Compliance Team before making an application selecting this option.

Multiple entry CoS

If a job may require regular overseas travel as part of the role, the College can state this requirement on the CoS. However, if a CoS does not have multiple entry indicated, this does not mean that the employee will be unable to travel outside the UK for either business or level reasons.

(Financial) Maintenance

Individuals must meet one of the requirements by:

  • The College, as an A-rated sponsor certifying maintenance on the CoS; or
  • Holding funds for 28 days at date of application of:
  • Main applicant - £1,270.
  • Dependant partner - £285
  • First child - £315
  • Each subsequent child - £200

and submitting evidence within 31 days of the date of application.

Individuals will be exempt from this requirement if they have held permission to stay in the UK for more than 12 months

Criminal record checks

Certain jobs in specified SOC codes require criminal records checks. The Staff Compliance Team will confirm where this applies. 

Where applicable, individuals (and their dependent partners) will need to provide criminal records certificates for each country where they have spent more than 12 months in the past ten years before they apply.

Period of sponsorship / SWR leave

Individuals can apply for and be granted up to 5 years’ skilled work route leave at a time, with unlimited extensions, in line with their contract of employment dates

This may be helpful for those who travel frequently/spend time overseas who may previously have been unable to extend their Tier 2 visa or apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain due to the strict continuous residence requirement.