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Sponsorship licences - what you need to know

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Employers are currently struggling to recruit, unemployment rates are low, and in certain industries and sectors the ‘battle for talent’ is a real problem. Employers need to recruit to fill skills gaps in their organisations and some are struggling. Sometimes it is just not possible to find the skilled workers required from within the UK and some employers are starting (and will need) to look overseas including outside the European Economic Area (“EEA”).

However, overseas workers must have the right to work in the UK. They can obtain the right to work if they apply for the correct visa and are sponsored by an employer with a sponsorship licence.

There are many rules surrounding sponsorship licences, visas and right to work so we have picked out a few top tips to help employers to sponsor the skilled individual they seek. The most common way for an employer to sponsor an individual is under the tier 2 route (but be aware that other tiers could be used too and have different requirements).

1. Only use the tier 2 sponsorship route for highly skilled vacancies

As a general rule, individuals from outside the EEA can only be sponsored if the job vacancy they are filling is sufficiently skilled. The rules state that they need to be RQF (Regulated Qualifications Framework) level 6 and above, which roughly equates to graduate level or above.

Therefore if you try to use the route for less skilled vacancies (for example jobs that could be obtained with just A-levels or a HNC) your application will not be successful and could jeopardise future correct applications that you make.

2. Check the salary

Before you take any significant steps towards sponsoring an individual, check that you are willing to pay the minimum salary required. These can range from a minimum salary of £25,000 to a minimum of over £78,000, depending on the job title, and you must ensure that you are willing to pay this amount throughout the period of the individual’s employment. If you do not pay the minimum salary, you will be illegally employing the individual.

3. Check if you need to do a Resident Labour Market Test

Unless a vacancy is on the shortage occupation list or another specific exemption applies, you will need to carry out a Resident Labour Market Test before proceeding with sponsorship. This is a test to check that there really is no suitably-qualified or skilled settled worker in the UK ready to take the vacancy. There are rules for carrying out this test which include advertising the role, assessing the candidates and retaining specified relevant documents.

4. Get documents ready in advance for a sponsorship licence application

If you are applying for a sponsorship licence, check what documents you need in advance of making the application. Ensure that you can either send the original documents or certified copies (for example copies signed by a solicitor containing the correct wording as per UKVI guidance) to UKVI.  If correctly certified copies of documents (or originals) are not sent, your application could be rejected even if everything else in the application is correct.

5. Attend our webinar on 16 January 2018

Join our webinar on the 16th January to learn more about the overall process of sponsorship and Tier 2 Sponsorship Licences It’s free and you can sign up here.