With new immigration rules coming into force in just a few months, People Management magazine spoke to Migrate’s immigration manager Karen Kaur about the process for accessing skilled migrant workers from now on. Karen outlined how to apply for a sponsor licence.
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Karen Kaur and her team are well versed in the requirements of the new points-based immigration system. Migrate UK represents many businesses sponsoring workers from all around the world – in industries such as science and technology, equine, IT as well as manufacturing and sport. Migrate UK’s clients have been properly prepared for the imminent changes and we can help to prepare your business as well..
Employers looking to hire foreign nationals from both inside and outside of Europe require a Tier 2 sponsor licence. But what is this? How do you apply for one? And what alternative routes can employers take to recruit skilled migrant workers?
What is a sponsor licence?
A sponsor licence allows employers to hire skilled nationals from non-EEA countries – from January 2021 this will be needed to hire EEA nationals as well. The main point to remember is that UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) has time and again reiterated that holding a sponsor licence is a privilege and not a right, so there is always going to be an eligibility criteria that employers will have to satisfy with UKVI and this is always kept under strict review.
The sponsor license, if approved, is valid for four years and can then be renewed.
How do you apply?
The application process is online. There is a form to complete and you need to send evidence along with this application. Usually you would send evidence via post that is certified by a solicitor and, in some instances, an accountant. But during the pandemic, UKVI has allowed employers to email the evidence across with the application. It must reach UKVI within five working days of the submission – if not you have to start the entire process again. The evidence required depends on the type of organisation, but generally it will need to show a genuine organisation with the ability to employ overseas nationals.
Do you have any tips on applying?
Ensuring you have the correct documents and an idea of the vacancies you want to fill in the UK is important. You should make sure you have the correct key personnel in place. These need to be individuals who are ready and prepared to take responsibility for their role within the sponsor management system. They need to be up to date with the terms and the rules, so seek professional assistance from experts. Key personnel must ensure record keeping, reporting and right-to-work checks are up to date. This includes notifying UKVI of any changes within the organisation or to a migrant’s employment within a specified timeframe. The rules surrounding the maintenance of a sponsor licence are quite strict. In severe cases if you are found in breach of them, UKVI can issue a fine of up to £10,000 and you could also face prosecution.
How long does it take to apply?
The sponsor licence application typically takes eight to 10 weeks to be reviewed by UKVI, but with the pandemic there will be delays. A risk of not applying soon is that candidates may back out of jobs if the licence hasn’t been approved but a competitor has had theirs approved.
You can also expect a pre-licence visit from a compliance officer from UKVI. Migrate UK can help you prepare for the compliance visit.
What alternatives are there if you don’t apply?
There aren’t really any alternatives. But there will be other immigration routes available to individuals without the constraints of skills or salary levels. For example, EU nationals already working in the UK before 11pm on 31 December who will be on either settled or pre-settled status. There are also sponsored workers on Tier 1 and Tier 2 categories and their dependants could possibly work for your organisation without the need for sponsorship. There are also long-term students on a Tier 4 general student category or individuals that hold a graduate scheme visa who can work. People on settled status, indefinite leave to remain and the UK ancestry visa, and the spouses and partners of settled persons with a family visa, will also be eligible to work in the UK. Additionally, there are also Tier 5 youth mobility scheme holders, and from 2021 there will be a British nationals overseas visa.
Migrate UK are well prepared for new points-based immigration system. Migrate UK represents many businesses who sponsor workers from all around the world – in industries such as science and technology, equine, IT as well as manufacturing and sport. Migrate UK’s clients have prepared for the imminent changes and we can help to prepare your business as well. Contact us 01235 841 568 or email firstname.lastname@example.org