Staff Immigration

Tier 2

When appointing nationals from outside of the EEA, we may be required to provide sponsorship under Tier 2 of the Points-Based System. 

Employing individuals under Tier 2 is a complicated process, with many procedures which must be followed precisely in order to comply with UKVI rules.

If we believe we may attract candidates from outside of the settled workforce, it is important to consider this before an advertisement is placed.

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Standard Occupational Codes

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. SOC Codes list:

  • The skill level for each occupation;
  • The minimum appropriate rates of pay for each occupation; and
  • Example job tasks and titles to help accurately match up a job to the corresponding classification code.

A Certificate of Sponsorship is only valid for posts with an appropriate SOC code and when the requirements set within the SOC code are fully met.

UKVI deem some occupations to be skilled to PhD level. This does not mean that a PhD must be an essential criteria.

The resident labour market test requirements differ for PhD level roles and allow the University to appoint the ‘most suitable candidate’.

It is important that the requirements for SOC code you wish to use are known prior to advertising.

Occupations skilled to PhD level

SOC 2010 Job title
2111 Chemical scientists
2112 Biological scientists and biochemists
2113 Physical scientists
2114 Social and humanities scientists
2119 Natural and social science professionals not elsewhere classified
2150 Research and development managers
2311 Higher education teaching professionals

Resident labour market test

The resident labour market test (RLMT) is there to protect the settled workforce and means that we must advertise the job to give settled workers a chance to apply. We can only recruit a migrant if:

  1. We have completed a resident labour market test and can show that no suitable settled worker is available to fill the job, or
  2. The job is exempt from the resident labour market test.

When does the RLMT not apply?

The RLMT does not apply when:

  • The job is on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL)
  • The individual is continuing in the same occupation for example a contract extension
  • The individual is switching in to Tier 2 having previously held a study or post study work visa
  • The total salary package for the job will be £153,500 or above
  • We were previously sponsoring a migrant who is returning to resume their post following a period of academic leave (cooling off period applies) (link to cooling off period pages)
  • The job is in a supernumerary research position, over and above your normal staffing requirements

In order to meet the RLMT the vacancy must be advertised for 28 calendar days. You can choose to do this in 1 of 2 ways:

  • advertise the vacancy for a single continuous period, with a minimum closing date of 28 calendar days from the date the advertisement first appeared; or
  • advertise the vacancy in two stages, where each stage lasts no less than 7 calendar days and both stages added together total a minimum of 28 calendar days.

The period of advertising starts from the date the advertisement first appears:

  • in the Jobcentre Plus (excluding PhD level roles)
  • using one other method permitted by the relevant code of practice. and the University website are permitted methods of advertising.

The advertisement must include:

  • the job title;
  • the main duties and responsibilities of the job (the job description);
  • the location of the job;
  • an indication of the salary package or salary range or terms on offer;
  • the skills, qualifications and experience needed; and
  • the closing date for applications, unless the job is part of your organisation's rolling recruitment programme.

Evidence of the RLMT

  • Where the vacancy was advertised on the internet, including our own website (where this is permitted), we must keep a screen shot from the website hosting the advertisement, on the day the vacancy is first advertised.  If the website clearly shows the date the vacancy was first advertised, the screen shot can be taken at any point during the period the vacancy is advertised.
  • the name of the website; and
  • the contents of the advert; and
  • the date and the URL; and
  • the closing date for applications.
  • Where the advertisement is not on our own website and does not show our name, a copy of a letter or invoice from the website will be required, to prove that an advertisement was placed
  • Where the vacancy has been advertised in Jobcentre Plus, we must keep a screen shot from the Jobcentre Plus (or DirectGov) website which clearly shows:
  • The Jobcentre Plus logo; and
  • The contents of the advert; and
  • The vacancy reference number; and
  • The date and URL; and
  • The closing date for applications. (This will only show on the advertisement if it has been set to run for any period other than the standard four weeks offered by Jobcentre Plus.)
  • All applications short-listed for final interview, in the medium they were received. For example, emails, CV’s and application form;
  • The names and total number of applicants short-listed for final interview;
  • Notes from the final interviews conducted and for each EEA national who was rejected, showing reasons why they have not been employed.


For all appointments, selection must be made in line with our recruitment processes and documentation must be retained throughout the campaign.

When sponsoring individuals under Tier 2:

  • For posts which are not deemed PhD level, but sponsorship can be sought, there must be no appointable settled workers/resident candidates.  Resident candidates can only be deemed unsuccessful if they do not meet an essential criterion.  If a settled worker applies for the job but does not have the necessary qualifications, experience or skills, we cannot refuse to employ them unless we specifically requested these qualifications, experience or skills in the job advertisement.
  • For posts which have been deemed to be skilled to PhD level by the UKVI (link to the PhD level roles) we can appoint the ‘most suitable candidate’ irrespective of visa requirements.  Evidence of the suitability of the candidate must be retained.


Before making a verbal offer to a candidate, whether internal or external, the Chair of the panel should liaise with the relevant Resourcing Adviser or another member of HR in their absence. It should be noted that a verbal offer is legally binding and it is therefore vital to ensure that any relevant pay or immigration legislation is met before speaking to candidates. 

Offers made to individuals requiring sponsorship must:

  • Be subject to the individual getting entry clearance or leave to remain in the UK to undertake the job.
  • Be in line with the advert.  Offers made above the advertised salary will mean the RLMT is void.
  • Follow the rules as set out in the SOC Codes of Practice.

There are special considerations when setting the salary. The Code of Practice for each job group contains two rates: the ‘new entrant’ rate and a higher ‘experienced’ rate.

A ‘new entrant’ employee is one who is:

  • A graduate switching from Tier 4 to Tier 2 under the UKVI's post-study route
  • Anyone aged 25 or under on the date of their initial Tier 2 application

An experienced worker is:

  • Anyone not meeting the definition of a ‘new entrant’ above or
  • Anyone applying to extend their stay in the UK under Tier 2 beyond 3 years and 1 month will be treated as an experienced worker.

Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)

A Certificate of Sponsorship is required for all individuals sponsored under Tier 2 and Tier 5. This is an electronic record, not a physical document. Each certificate has its own number which a worker will use to apply for their visa.
Certificates must be used within 3 months of application and 3 months from assigning to the migrant worker.

Unrestricted certificates

Can be assigned at any time and are not subject to the annual limited.  These certificates are for:

  • In country switch
  • Contract extensions
  • Change of employment applications
  • High earners
  • Croatian nationals

Restricted certificates

Subject to the annual limit and must be approved by the UKVI.  Applications for a restricted certificate must be made before the 5th of each month and will be confirmed or rejected by the 11th of said month.  These certificates are for new hires applying from outside of the UK.

Certificate costs

Tier 2 Tier 4 Tier 5
£184 £14 £14

Expiry of a Certificate of Sponsorship

A Certificate of Sponsorship must be assigned within six months of the role being advertised (or 12 months if it is in a PhD-level SOC code). If this is not met, a new Resident Labour Market Test (link to RLMT pages) must be carried out.

Certificate of Sponsorship timelines

Advert date -
Advert date + 28 days Earliest closing date for adverts
Advert date + 6 months Latest date for assigning CoS (non-PhD jobs)
Advert date + 12 months Latest date for assigning CoS (PhD-level jobs)
CoS assignment date + 3 months Latest date for visa application

Can we apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship?


UK visas

Tier 1
  • Tier 1 (General) - now closed to applicants outside the UK
  • Investor
  • Entrepreneur
  • Exceptional Talent
  • Post Study Work
Tier 2 (Certificate of Sponsorship)
  • Tier 2 (General)
  • Intra Company Transfers
Tier 5 (May require a Certificate of Sponsorship)
  • Government Authorised Exchange
  • Youth Mobility Scheme
  • Creative and Sporting
Study visa
  • Tier 4 (General)
  • Student Visitor Visa
  • Doctoral Extension Scheme
Family visa
  • Marriage
  • Spouse
  • Fiancé
  • Dependent
  • Unmarried partner
  • Ancestry
Visitor visa
  • Visitor Visa
  • Business Visitor
  • Academic Visitor
  • Permitted Paid Engagement
  • General Visitor
  • Family Visitor
Other immigration categories
  • Indefinite Leave to Remain
  • UK Settlement
  • Right of Abode
  • EEA Residence Permit

Immigration - © University of Kent

The Registry, The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NZ, T: +44 (0)1227 824998

Last Updated: 30/09/2019

Banner Image: Anne Worner