Employers desirous of employing a non-EEA national in the UK are faced with the onerous task of complying with all UKVI requirements. The first task is to ensure that an employer is included in the UK official Tier 2 Sponsor list (Tiers 2 and 5 Register of Sponsors). Thus employers need to obtain a Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence which avails non-EEA nationals the opportunity to work in the UK with a Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa.
UKVI has increased scrutiny checks by visiting companies more often to check that they continuously comply with the requirements for a Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence to remain on the Tier 2 sponsor list. Subsequently some employers’ licences have been revoked due to non-compliance with the Tier 2 visa requirements either by the company or their employees. Moreover, it has become more difficult to obtain a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence as prospective employers are subjected to the provision of additional documentation.
To be included in the Tier 2 sponsor list, employers must provide a number of documents, which may mean VAT registration certificates, annual company accounts, office lease agreements, salary details and other related documents.
After obtaining a Sponsorship Licence an employer is normally given an allocation of so called “unrestricted” Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS). It means that they can only employ migrants already working in the company, high earners (annual salary of £155,300 or more) or any migrants already in the UK eligible to switch to Tier 2.
The employer has 12 months to assign CoS to eligible candidates from the date the licence started. The number of CoS can be reduced and all unused ones are removed after 12 months.
Once an organisation employs some migrant workers from within the UK, they can apply for “restricted” CoS which will allow them to employ workers from outside the EU. The UKVI set an annual limit of 20,700 restricted CoS from 6 April 2015 to 5 April 2016.
For these migrants a Resident Labour Market Test must be carried out (with a few exceptions) to prove that the employer could not find a suitable candidate from local settled workers. The job is advertised in local newspapers and online, with all results of the campaign recorded.
The sponsor can employ migrants for positions in Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes where they can find a detailed job specification and minimum salary requirements for the prospective Tier 2 employees.
Employers can also recruit talented students graduated from British Universities. It is important to note the recognised academic qualifications that permit a switch from Tier 4 (Student) visa to Tier 2 (General) visa:
- a UK bachelor’s degree
- a UK master’s degree
- a postgraduate certificate in education
- a professional graduate diploma of education.
PhD students must complete a minimum of 12 months study on their current degree which gives them a leave to remain in the UK. All Tier 2 visa applicants must also satisfy the UK English Language eligibility requirement.
Commercial Sense Of Being on the Tier 2 Sponsor List
It makes clear business sense to be on the Tier 2 sponsor list. It allows you to attract talent from all over the world. IAM will work with you, your HR team and your staff to ensure that you comply with the obligations and responsibilities of Registered Sponsors.
This starts from an audit of your current operations (in line with the UK immigration requirements) through to the submission of your application to join the Register of Sponsors and finally renewing of your licence on an annual basis.
Contact our IAM team in Canary Wharf for help with obtaining your Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence, complying with your Sponsor obligations, carrying out a Labour Market Test, issuing an appropriate Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), etc. Our legal team will be happy to guide you through the process to improve and expand your business.