SPONSORSHIP LICENCE AND THE SKILLED WORKER VISA – WHAT EMPLOYERS NEED TO KNOW!
There continues to be a significant imbalance between labour demand and supply, particularly when it comes to skilled workers. FG Solicitors frequently gets asked by its clients how they can address this problem by bringing in skilled workers from overseas. The following are some of the most frequently asked questions we get asked during these conversations:
1. WE HAVE HEARD OF THE SKILLED WORKER VISA BUT WHAT IS IT?
The Skilled Worker visa replaced the Tier 2 work visa in December 2020. It is a long-term visa, which if granted can allow a non-UK citizen to lawfully work in the UK for up to 5 years.
The route requires an individual to have a job offer for an eligible skilled occupation in the UK with an organisation that has been licenced by the Home Office.
The eligible skilled job will need to meet the annual salary expectations as set by the government. An employer must pay whichever is the higher of the ‘going rate’ or the relevant general minimum salary threshold for the specific job type.
2. HOW CAN MY ORGANISATION RECRUIT SKILLED WORKERS FROM OVERSEAS?
For your organisation to employ an individual from overseas, it will need a sponsorship licence which is issued by the Home Office.
As a prospective sponsor, some of the key requirements your organisation will need to demonstrate to the Home Office are:
it is a UK based company that is trading and operating lawfully in the UK;
it has at least one employee based in the UK that is appointed as the Authorising Officer, Key Contact and Level 1 user. These roles may be filled by different employees or by the same individual. The purpose of these appointments is to ensure compliance with managing the organisation’s licence and the sponsorship process on behalf of the organisation; and
it has appropriate HR systems in place for sponsoring employees. For example, it has a set of policies and procedures in place and systems which monitor employee’s immigration status, right to work checks and tracking and recording attendance.
Once your organisation has been granted a sponsorship licence, it can issue certificates of sponsorship to skilled migrant workers, which are required for their skilled worker visa application.
The sponsorship licence is valid for 4 years, at which point it will need to be renewed, especially if sponsored migrants are currently working; any expiry of the licence can affect the individual's immigration status and their right to lawfully work in the UK.
There are also important compliance and reporting responsibilities, which the licence holder must meet in order to maintain the licence.
3. IS THE PROCESS THE SAME FOR SMES?
The rules for UK employers to hold a sponsorship licence for skilled worker visas are the same regardless of the size of the organisation.
Individual persons are not eligible to be recognised as sponsors, unless they are sole traders that wish to sponsor an overseas skilled individual to work for them.
There is however a difference between SMEs and large multi-national companies when it comes to the sponsor licence application fee which is as follows:
Fee for small sponsors = £536
Fee for medium or large sponsors = £1,476
Your organisation will usually qualify as a small sponsor if at least two of the following apply:
Your annual turnover is £10.2 million or less.
Your total assets are worth £5.1 million or less.
You have 50 employees or fewer.
4. HOW CAN FG SOLICITORS HELP WITH MY CORPORATE IMMIGRATION PROCESS?
FGS provide prospective sponsors and current licence holders with expert advice ranging from the initial application process and relevant supporting documentation to the management, monitoring and reporting requirements for current sponsored migrants.
If you are interested in starting your corporate immigration process today, contact FG Solicitors for a free, no obligation discussion.