Tier 2 Requesting CoS and prepare visa application

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In order to sponsor a Tier 2 visa holder, the University must issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). This is an electronic document which lists the sponsored individual`s personal details, information about the role and the advertisement process. The CoS also includes a reference number which must be included in the Tier 2 visa application. 

The employing college or department should download and complete the CoS form which corresponds to the appointed candidate's current circumstances. The CoS form, supporting documents should be secured with 7-zip and emailed to their contact person within SIT. The SIT Immigration Adviser will review the application, check that the skill level, the salary threshold and advertising requirements have been met. 



 Prospective employee applying from overseas
Current UK visa holder applying under Tier 2
Tier 4 visa holder switching to Tier 2





A current University of Oxford employee
extending their Tier 2 visa







The deadline to submit Tier 2 Initial CoS applications to SIT for overseas applications is the 29th of each month (or before if this date falls on a weekend or bank holiday). This does not apply, however, to Tier 2 CoS applications for those taking up research or lecturer roles as these applications can be submitted as soon as they are ready.



Maintenance required as a part of the Tier 2 visa application

Meeting the maintenance requirement is mandatory in this cases (among others):

- applicant is applying for a Tier 2 visa from overseas

- a Tier 4 student visa holder is switching into a Tier 2 visa

- a Tier 2 visa holder is changing to a Tier 2 visa sponsored by University of Oxford

- a dependant of a Tier 4 visa holder is switching in to a Tier 2 visa


Maintenance not required as a part of the Tier 2 visa application

It is not necessary to certify maintenance for Tier 2 extension applications. 


Default positions is the employing department or college certifies this requirement if required during first month of employment.

If the employing department or college does not agree to certify the maintenance of the applicant, the applicant has to evidence £945 of personal savings held for a 90 days, plus additional savings (£630) for each dependant, prior to the date of the visa application.

The Home Office provides more guidance on what the personal savings documents will need to include on page 43 of their Tier 2 Policy Guidance document.



Departments and colleges should satisfy themselves that the English language requirement is met before applying for a Tier 2 CoS. This can be met by meeting one of the options below. Proof of meeting the English language requirement must be included in a Tier 2 visa application. Any delay in verifying the English language requirement (such as the applicant needing to sit an English language test or have qualifications verified by UK NARIC) will delay the visa application. 


1. Nationals from the following English speaking countries automatically meet the English language requirement: 

Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia,  St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and the USA


2. English language test

For those who intend to meet the English language requirement by passing an approved English language test, please see the Home Office's guidance on the 'Knowledge of English' requirements and their list of  Approved English Language Test providers and centres. This provides guidance on acceptable programmes and the grade applicants must reach in order to meet the Tier 2 requirements.

Either ‘Academic’ or ‘General’ level English tests are acceptable but they must be approved tests for UKVI applications taken at an approved test centre.


There have been cases where Tier 2 applicants have sat the wrong English language test, or have taken the test at the wrong test centre. Having to book, pay for, and sit another test has led to significant delays to start dates. In order to avoid such delays please ensure applicants consult the Home Office list of Approved English Language Test providers and centres before booking a test.


3. Applicant was awarded a degree from a higher education institution where the course was entirely taught in English


  • If the qualification is a Bachelor, Masters or PhD awarded by a UK institution the qualification does not need to be verified by UK NARIC. The Tier 2 visa applicant should include their degree certificate to demonstrate they have met the English language requirement.


  • If the qualification is a Bachelor, Masters or PhD degree (or equivalent) awarded by an institution in Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago or USA, the applicant will need to have the level of the qualification verified by UK NARIC (see further information on UK NARIC below). The degree certificate and the UK NARIC certificate (confirming their degree is equivalent to a UK degree) should be included in the Tier 2 visa application.

  • If the qualification was awarded by a country not listed above but was taught entirely in English, the applicant will need to apply for two UK NARIC certificates: 
    - UK NARIC certificate confirming the level of English at which the degree was taught; and 
    - UK NARIC certificate confirming the degree is equivalent to a UK degree

Applying for a UK NARIC certificate

Those who are required to have their qualification verified by UK NARIC can apply for verification online. A fee of £125+VAT is payable per application for verification. UK NARIC charge a single fee of £125 + VAT whether applicants are submitting one or multiple qualifications for verification and will return decisions by post within ten days.

Applicants who are required to obtain verification of their qualification(s) from UK NARIC are advised to do so as early as possible or consider taking an approved English language test instead which in some cases may be quicker and/or more cost effective.

When applying for verification to UK NARIC, applicants should be aware that they will be required to upload scanned copies of both their original degree certificate and their academic transcript. Those who are also required to have the fact that their qualification was taught in English verified, must also submit a letter form the institution that awarded their qualification confirming that the qualification was taught entirely in English. If any of the original documents are not in English, a certified translation will also need to be provided to UK NARIC.

Applicants should be aware that an application to UK NARIC does not guarantee that they will certify the level of the qualification or that it was taught in English. Where verification is not successful, the applicant will need to take and pass an approved English language test instead.

Tier 2 visa applicants must meet the following salary thresholds (whichever is higher):


1. The general salary threshold which is £20,800 p.a. for 'New Entrants' and £30,000 p.a. for 'Experienced Workers'

New Entrant: Minimum of £20,800 p.a.

  • Switching from Tier 4 under the post-study provisions
  • Aged 26 or under on the date of their Tier 2 visa application Not classed as new entrant if applying to extend total stay in Tier 2 and/or as a work permit holder beyond 3 years and 1 month

Experienced Workers: Minimum of £30,000 p.a.

  • anyone not falling under the criteria for new entrant; or
  • if sponsorship is being provided initially for longer than 3 years; or
  • anyone who is extending their total stay in Tier 2 beyond 3 years and 1 month

2. The salary thresholds specific to a Researcher role, for example, are £21,600 per annum for a 'New Entrant', and £28,000 per annum for an 'Experienced Worker'.

This will be found on the Home Office Codes of Practice, and provides a minimum salary threshold for both 'New Entrants' and 'Experienced workers'. 



Each occupation will also have a specified minimum salary – check with SIT



Part-Time Appointments

It can be more difficult for sponsorship to be provided for part-time roles.  The part-time salary must be at or above the absolute minimum salary of £20,800 for 'New Entrant' or £30,000 for 'Experienced Workers' with the full time equivalent salary needing to meet the occupation threshold.



Guaranteed allowances, for example for accommodation, as long as they are detailed in the contract of employment and will be paid for the duration of the sponsorship, will be included in the salary calculation.

Adhoc allowances, or those relating to the individual performing the duties of their role (for example a book, research, entertainment or relocation allowance) cannot be included in the salary calculation and are not disclosed to the Home Office.

Eligibility requirements to switch from Tier 4 into Tier 2


A Tier 4 student visa holder is eligible to apply for a Tier 2 visa when they have either: 

  • Completed over 12 months of a PhD course in the UK; or
  • Completed a undergraduate or graduate degree at a UK academic institution 


In addition, the Tier 4 student visa must also have met the required qualifications specified in the job description before a Tier 2 Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) can be issued.

Where a job description specifies that a PhD is required (and gives no provision for those who are close to completion or have relevant experience), a Tier 2 CoS cannot be issued unless the individual actually has been awarded a doctorate. Unless there are specific reasons why it is not possible, therefore, it is better to quote “PhD or close to completion” or “PhD or relevant experience”.

Please see the SIT Guidance for recommend qualification wording.


As a part of the Tier 2 CoS application, one of the documentation below must be provided:  

1. Original certificate of award which clearly shows:

  • Student's full name;
  • Title of the qualification/award;
  • Name of the awarding body


2. Original academic reference, on headed paper, from their academic institution which contains the following information:

  • Student's full name;
  • Course title/award;
  • Course duration;
  • Date of completion of the course (unless the applicant is a DPhil/PhD student, in which case the letter must confirm that the applicant has been studying for more than one academic year);
  • Name of the awarding body;
  • The reason why an original certificate of award cannot be provided (where studies have been completed);
  • That the certificate will be issued (where studies have been completed).


Tier 4 visa holders working before obtaining a Tier 2 visa 

A Tier 4 student visa holder awaiting the outcome of an application to switch into Tier 2 (General) which was submitted before their Tier 4 visa expired can fill a full-time permanent vacancy as long as they have successfully completed a course at degree level or above and they are employed in the role for which they are applying under Tier 2, otherwise a temporary contract of employment should be issued to the student worker until their work visa has been granted.



Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES)

PhD/DPhil students who are nearing completion of their studies and hold a Tier 4 student visa can apply for a 12 month extension of their visa under the Doctorate Extension Scheme. A Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) visa is, therefore, an extension under Tier 4 rather than a different type of visa. A Tier 4 DES visa permits the holder to look for and undertake work, however, please note that they will need to have completed their studies (been granted leave to supplicate) before they can work full time as the same Tier 4 conditions apply limiting work to a maximum of 20 hours per week while studying.

In some circumstances, particularly if a role shorter than 12 months is being offered, it may be worth suggesting that the applicant considers applying under Tier 4 DES instead of applying to switch into Tier 2. As a new CAS must be issued by the Tier 4 sponsor in order to apply under Tier 4 DES you should refer Oxford students to the Student Immigration team. Students from other universities will need to seek advice from their university.

If a Tier 2 application is being pursued, the same exemption from the Tier 2 advertising rules apply whether an applicant is switching from a Tier 4 or a Tier 4 DES visa into Tier 2.

A visa applicant will need to include a Tuberculosis screening test results with their visa application if: 

  •  they are coming to the UK for more than 6 months; and 
  • they are resident in any of these listed countries.

Please refer to our TB screening test webpages for more information.

A requirement to provide overseas criminal record certificates when applying for a Tier 2 visa to come to the UK has been introduced for a few jobs codes in the education, health and social care sectors. Of the job codes currently affected the only one which SIT has identified as relevant within the collegiate University is SOC code 2317, which is used (very infrequently) for senior administrative posts such as ‘Course Director’ or ‘Director of studies’. 

PLEASE NOTE: the new requirement does not apply to the Researcher (SOC code 2119) and Lecturer (SOC code 2311) roles sponsored most frequently by the University, or any other job types SIT normally encounter, only senior administrative roles which fall under SOC code 2317.

Where the requirement does apply the applicant will have to provide either an original or a scanned copy of a criminal record certificate from the relevant authority in any country in which they have been resident for 12 months or more (whether continuously or in total) in the past 10 years, while aged 18 or over. Any dependants who are over 18 years old must also meet this requirement. The Home Office provides contact details for the relevant authorities in different countries along with details of how to apply.

As this requirement will not affect the vast majority of Tier 2 applicants sponsored by the University please contact SIT as early as possible if you are advertising a role which you think may be affected. SIT will confirm if the requirement does apply and provide further information and links to the information provided by the Home Office. If the chosen candidate requires a Tier 2 visa you will then need to inform them of this requirement as early as possible so that they have time to obtain these documents before they submit their visa application.


Once the Staff Immigration Team are satisfied all the Home Office requirements have been met, a Tier 2 Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is issued. The Tier 2 CoS can be issued for either up to three years or up to five years in the first instance and can be extended up to the six year maximum permitted time on a Tier 2 visa. Applicants who wish to remain in the UK to work beyond six years should apply for settlement if they are eligible to do so. Those who are not eligible to apply for settlement will be required to leave the UK after six years.

Please note that those applying for a Tier 2 visa, and their dependants, will have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (NHS Surcharge) in addition to the relevant visa application fees when submitting their visa applications. As the NHS Surcharge is based on the duration of the visa and can be a significant addition to the visa fees this may affect the decision of the length of visa applied for. You may wish to draw the applicant's attention to this issue.


Contact us

Medical Sciences / Humanities / GLAM / UAS / Continuing Education / Colleges

Angelina Pelova Tel: 01865 289904 Email: angelina.pelova@admin.ox.ac.uk 

James Galloway Tel: 01865 289927 Email: james.galloway@admin.ox.ac.uk


MPLS / Social Sciences

Nina Song Tel: 01865 289926 Email: nina.song@admin.ox.ac.uk

Solveig Alsaker Tel: 01865 289912 Email: solveig.alsaker@admin.ox.ac.uk




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