Tier 5 visa: how to apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship

All non-EEA/EU Erasmus+ students, volunteers and apprentices coming to the UK on a traineeship or as a volunteer through European Voluntary Service (EVS) must have a visa under Tier 5, Temporary Worker, Government Authorised Exchange under the UK Visas and Immigration points-based system in order to take up their Erasmus+ placement/opportunity in the UK.

Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) applicants first need a sponsor before they can apply for their visa. The British Council and Ecorys are licensed Category A sponsors. As licensed sponsors, the British Council and Ecorys assign each approved Erasmus+ trainee or EVS volunteer a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). Applicants must have their CoS before they apply for their Tier 5 visa.

Please note that it can take up to four weeks to receive a CoS number from the date that the British Council or Ecorys receive all complete and correct documentation. Incomplete or incorrect documentation may cause delays in issuing a CoS.  

Summary of steps

Erasmus+ HE traineeships 

The British Council requires all incoming higher education (HE) applicants to go through their home university Erasmus+ coordinator to get their CoS. It is the responsibility of Erasmus+ coordinators to:

  • collect the documents from their students;
  • ensure that all documents are completed correctly;
  • email the CoS applications in PDF format to Tier5erasmus@britishcouncil.org.

The British Council will also need scanned copies of the following documents in PDF or Word format (do not send as web links like google, RAR or one drive attachments as these will be refused. Please note due to size constraints within our systems we can only accept one email per CoS Application. If you have trouble with the file size of your email, this link might be useful in advising you how to reduce the size or please consult your IT department for help):

  • a fully completed Tier 5 CoS Application Form (214 KB). Please consult the Tier 5 Guidance document (124 KB) which is to be read and used in conjunction with the Tier 5 CoS Application Form.
  • the confirmation letter from the sending university confirming that the student is an Erasmus+ student, the start and end dates of the placement and the total Erasmus+ grant that the student will receive. The letter must be on university letter headed paper and signed, dated and stamped by the appropriate signatory;
  • the acceptance letter from the host organisation confirming the start and end dates of the work placement and the roles and duties to be carried out by the student. The letter must be on company letter headed paper and signed, dated and stamped by the host;
  • a fully completed Erasmus+ Learning Agreement for Traineeships (156 KB) signed by the trainee, the sending institution and the hosting organisation; read the Tier 5 guidelines (330 KB) on how to complete this document;
  • a transcript of records from the sending institution providing an official academic record of the course studied by the student. This must be translated into English;
  • a copy of the student's passport, including  all ID details e.g. biometric page and leave stamps. Each page must be clear and visible. Please ensure the passport expiry date is still valid for at least six months after the placement end date.
  • criminal record check for overseas students. Read further information on what type of criminal records check is appropriate. The certificate must be translated into English. 

Please check Home Office guidance for further details on certifying a translation.

Erasmus+ EVS placements

The British Council requires all EVS volunteers to go through their receiving Erasmus+ coordinator to get their CoS. It is the responsibility of Erasmus+ coordinators to:

  • collect the documents from their volunteers;
  • ensure that all documents are completed correctly; and
  • email the CoS applications in PDF format to Tier5erasmus@britishcouncil.org.

The British Council will also need scanned copies of the following documents in PDF or Word format (do not send as web links like google, RAR or one drive attachments as these will be refused. Please note due to size constraints within our systems we can only accept one email per CoS Application. If you have trouble with the file size of your email, this link might be useful in advising you how to reduce the size or please consult your IT department for help):

  • a fully completed Info Sheet (58KB);
  • a witness Statement as detailed on the Info Sheet;
  • a copy of  the volunteers  passport, including all ID details e.g. biometric page and leave stamps. Each page must be clear and visible. Please ensure the passport expiry date is still valid for at least six months after the placement end date;
  • criminal record check for overseas volunteers. Read further information on what type of criminal records check is appropriate. The certificate must be translated into English.

Please check Home Office guidance for further details on certifying a translation.

Further Information on Criminal Record Checks

Please note that criminal records checks for overseas participants are only required for certain jobs or voluntary work, eg working with children or in healthcare. We would urge you to read home office guidance and consult with your receiving host organisation to confirm if one is required. Examples of job roles which would require evidence of a police check would be a teacher, unsupervised volunteer.

Criminal record check certificates are usually required from your country of residence. However in some cases a criminal record check certificate may be required from your country of origin. Applications are assessed on a case by case basis.

Further Information on the CoS Application Process

It is the responsibility of organisations to make sure they apply in plenty of time and provide all the necessary documents, completed and in the correct format.  It can take up to four weeks to receive the CoS number from the date all complete and correct documentation has been forwarded to Tier5erasmus@britishcouncil.org.

The dates of the planned placement must allow sufficient time for a CoS to be issued prior to the start of the placement. This is in accordance with Home Office guidance. We recommend that no travel plans are made or costs incurred until you have been advised of the decision regarding your CoS and a Visa has been approved by the Home Office.

Please check all documents carefully before applying.

Download the Tier 5 CoS Application Form for Erasmus+ traineeship students (65 KB)

Download the form for Erasmus+ EVS volunteers (42 KB)

Please note visas may not allow multi-entry to the UK, for example for overseas holidays. It is recommended that students/volunteers travel with documents that show the reason for their stay in the UK and the contact details of their host organisation.

Participants will not need £945 in savings if their fully approved (‘A-rated’) sponsor states on their CoS that they will certify their maintenance and that the participant will not claim benefits during their stay in the UK.

Download the Tier 5 Online Visa Application Guidance (136 KB) for traineeship students and EVS volunteers.

Upon arrival in the UK

Information for Hosting Organisations

Under the UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) Points Based System, the British Council is acting as licensed sponsors for all Erasmus+ participants that come to the UK from non EU countries and must comply with UKVI record keeping duties. 

Please read the information contained within Annex E Host Tier 5 Guidelines and Sponsorship Duties very carefully. It highlights the sponsorship duties that the host company and the British Council must comply with in order to continue to sponsor participants in the Erasmus+ programme. 

Once the participant has arrived in the UK we require you to complete the Tier 5 UKVI Requirement Reporting Form (68KB) which is a compulsory UKVI requirement. Please return this form for each participant to the British Council as soon as they arrive at your organisation.

As sponsors we are also required to inform the UKVI of any changes made to the participant's placement. Please can you inform the British Council immediately, should any of the following occur:

  • if your participant fails to turn up on their first day of work or is absent from work for more than 10 consecutive working days without permission;
  • if a participant travels in and out of the UK for business or holidays, advise the British Council by email of the dates they leave the UK and then by email again on their return;
  • any significant changes to the participant's circumstances e.g. change of job, salary, location etc;
  • any change to the duration of the participant's placement e.g.  requested extensions;
  • if employment is terminated for any other reason;
  • any other information that you think may be of importance.

It is vital for you to inform the British Council when the participant has left your employment.

Please note that failure to comply with UKVI record keeping duties can lead to the revoking of a Tier 5 license which will impact on our ability to sponsor Erasmus+ participants in the future.

Information for Participants

Please read the information contained within Annex E Participant Tier 5 Guidelines and Sponsorship Duties (64 KB) very carefully. It highlights the sponsorship duties that the host company and the British Council must comply with in order to continue to sponsor participants in the Erasmus+ programme.

Safety First 2016-2017- a personal safety guide for workers' (1MB) is a British Council booklet designed to provide useful safety tips and information to help you prepare for your stay and offers practical advice on living and working which you can refer to throughout your placement in the UK. If you would like access to this guide on your mobile phone please download the QR App which will enable you to scan the guide to your phone.

For further information please email the Erasmus+ Tier 5 Team at the British Council Tier5erasmus@britishcouncil.org. For all other queries about EVS, please contact Ecorys UK at erasmusplus@ecorys.com.

Erasmus+ VET learners

Ecorys are able to grant certificates for KA1 VET projects (the project code in your grant agreement will show KA102). To apply for a Tier 5 Certificate of Sponsorship, the project coordinator must submit the following documents:

  • Completed Participant Information Form
  • Photocopy of the participant’s passport pages (including the front and back cover)
  • Completed Letter of Support from the Sending Organisation
  • Completed Letter of Support from Host Organisation
  • Copy of the final contract between the local National Agency and the Sending Organisation including annex 1, showing VET mobilities
  • Evidence of (1) a Criminal Record Check and (2) a DBS check (only for learners undertaking a work placement with regulated activity in relation to children)

Please Note: As of November 2015 the Home Office require us to keep evidence that the appropriate Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks have been conducted where learners are undertaking a work placement with regulated activity in relation to children.

This means that prior to issuing the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) for VET learners undertaking a work placement with regulated activity in relation to children, you will need to:

  • provide evidence of a criminal record check for the VET Learner. Further information on what type of criminal records check is appropriate can be obtained here. The certificate must be translated into English. Please check Home Office guidance for further details on certifying a translation;
  • provide evidence of a DBS check for the VET Learner.

Failure to provide evidence of a criminal record check and a DBS check for a VET learner undertaking a work placement with regulated activity in relation to children will result in the application for Sponsorship being rejected. 

To obtain the Participant Information Form and templates for the host and sending organisation letters of support, or for any other queries regarding KA1 VET Tier 5 sponsorship, please contact the Ecorys Tier 5 team at 0121 212 8863 or email tier5@ecorys.com.

Useful links

Further information can be found on the UK Visas and Immigration website.