What is the change? In August, the U.K. Home Office introduced automatic renewal of Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) allocations for the top 200 largest employers. However, smaller employers must continue to apply annually for a renewal of their CoS allocation and should watch for Home Office reminders.

What does the change mean? Large employers do not need to make an annual application to renew their CoS allocation, while others must continue to make an annual application to request that Tier 2 CoS be allocated to the Sponsor Management System account.

  • Implementation timeframe: Automatic renewals for the largest employers took effect Aug. 6,
  • Visas/permits affected: CoS for Tier 2 skilled workers and Tier 5 temporary workers.
  • Who is affected:Employers issuing unrestricted CoS for foreign nationals in the above categories.
  • Impact on processing times: The automatic renewals willpotentially reduce processing times and eliminate delays in the annual allocation renewal process for the largest employers.
  • Next steps: Employers should be contacted by the Home Office regarding the renewal, and if not included in the automatic renewal, employers can work with their BAL attorney on the manual application.

Background: We reported the introduction of automatic Certificate of Sponsorship allocation renewal in March 2014, and it took effect for the 200 or so largest employers in August. Those companies should now be automatically granted a new allocation equal to the number of CoS that have been assigned to migrants in that category during the previous allocation year. This process has been introduced to prevent instances where sponsors urgently need to assign a CoS but are unable to do so because their allocation has expired.

For the largest employers, ‘Automatic renewal’ will be displayed next to the categories in question on the ‘Request renewal of annual allocations’ screen in the Sponsor Management System three months before an allocation is due to expire. Those identified as the largest employers may have already been allocated their CoS automatically for this year.

However, the majority of employers are not considered in the largest 200, and must continue to apply for their CoS allocation to be renewed annually and provide business reasons for the number of CoS requested. These employers should refer to the ‘Licence summary’ screen in the Sponsor Management System to determine the expiry date of their CoS allocations or work with BAL to establish this information.

Please note that the renewal of allocations of CoS, which occurs annually, is not connected to the renewal of sponsor licenses, which occurs every four years.

Updated versions of the SMS user guides, including details of the automation rules and processes, have been published here.

Guidance for sponsors on CoS is contained in Section 4 of the most recent Sponsor Guidance.

BAL Analysis: For the largest companies who have been offered automatic renewals, this is a positive change that removes an administrative burden. However, large employers subject to automatic CoS renewal should beware of the assumption that they will only require the same number of CoS as in the previous year – automatic renewal does not account for spikes in the number of CoS an employer may need based on legitimate business reasons such as expansion, economic growth or project work. In addition, employers who are not included in the automatic renewal should notify BAL for further support when they are contacted by the Home Office three months before the allocation renewal deadline.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please contact

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