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How to sponsor overseas workers

A business will usually consider sponsoring overseas workers when they require a particular skill for their business that cannot be sourced in the UK. The reality is that the UK has a skills and labour shortage and by recruiting workers from abroad businesses are able to access a wider pool of talent. There are particular jobs which are in the shortage such as jobs in the digital technology sector, biological scientists, civil engineers, speech and language therapists and many more. In the year ending September 2019, there was a total of 111,035 Tier 2 visas granted which was in increase of 12% from the year before.[1]

Following the end of the transitional period, businesses will need to sponsor both EEA and non-EEA workers. If a business wants to employ someone through the Tier 2 skilled or Tier 5 temporary worker route, then they would need to hold a valid sponsor licence. A business will need to specify what type of licence they require when applying.

Tier 2

There are four main subcategories of the Tier 2 route:

  1. Tier 2 (General) – Recruiting overseas skilled workers to the UK. The worker must have a job offer to be eligible to apply.
  2. Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) – Recruiting a worker from one overseas entity to another. This is usually common in multi-national organisations.
  3. Tier 2 (Minister of Religion)
  4. Tier 2 (Sportsperson)

Tier 5

This route is for temporary workers and includes:

  • Charity workers
  • Creative and sporting
  • Government Authorised Exchange (GAE)
  • International Agreement
  • Religious Workers

Following the end of the transitional period, businesses will need to sponsor both EEA and non-EEA workers.

Applying for a licence

The process of applying for a licence can be complex and onerous as a number of documents are required to support the application. Further to this, only the Authorising Officer can submit the application, therefore it is important that the online application completed is accurate. If there is an error in the online application or there is incomplete data then it is likely that the application will be refused.

Moreover, the business will need to ensure that it meets the eligibility criteria. Documents will need to be provided to evidence the main criteria:

  1. The business is a genuine organisation operating lawfully in the UK.
  2. The business has a robust HR system in place to monitor sponsored workers and to carry out their sponsor duties.
  3. The business is offering genuine employment that meets the relevant skill level and appropriate rate of pay.

Once the online application is submitted, the business will have 5 working days to submit the supporting documents. There are strict requirements to adhere to and the majority of documents required must be originals. As a result, it is recommended that the online application is not submitted until you have obtained all supporting documents.

The business will also need to check whether the role they are recruiting for is on the list of occupations which require sponsorship. Once this is checked, the business will need to provide evidence that they have advertised the role properly and have provided domestic workers with the opportunity to apply. This process is called the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT). Again, there are strict requirements to follow as simply advertising the vacancy on a company’s website will not satisfy the test. The business will need to keep screenshots of advertising the job as this forms a part of the evidence of conducting the RLMT. The job must be advertised for at least 28 days, and therefore if a business has not conducted this correctly then they will need to advertise the job again for a further 28 days and thus delaying the process of recruiting a worker. Once the supporting documents have been submitted, the application can take up to 8 weeks to be processed.

Following the transitional period, as EEA workers will also need to be sponsored, it is recommended that businesses start preparing by applying for a sponsor licence immediately. Please contact our immigration team who will be able to guide you through the process step by step.


About this article

This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

About this article

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