How to Employ Overseas Workers in the UK FAQs and myths dispelled

Employing overseas workers on a skilled worker visa in the UK

Employing overseas workers on a Skilled Worker visa in the UK simply requires a successful application for a sponsorship licence for your organisation. 

Holding a licence ensures that an organisation has the chance of filling a vacancy with an overseas worker in a matter of weeks rather than months and keeps them competitive in the recruitment market.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What are the UKVI Sponsor Licence application costs?

The cost for a sponsorship licence application for a small organisation is £536.00

According to Companies Act a company qualifies as small if it meets 2 of the below criteria, unless it is excluded from doing so: 

  • turnover is not more than £10.2 million 
  • balance sheet total is not more than £5.1 million (aggregate of the amounts shown as assets in the company's balance sheet) 
  • number of employees does not exceed 50 (taken as an average across the financial year).

The cost for a sponsorship licence application for a large organisation is £1,476.00

Once a licence is obtained, the employer will then pay Home Office fees for each person they wish to sponsor.

Professional fees are additional – please speak to a member of the team for prices.

What is the average cost of employing an overseas worker?

Based on our research, the average employer-based costs for onboarding an overseas sponsored worker for five years are:

£3,200 for a small employer 

£8,200 for a large employer 

How long does it take to receive a decision from the Home Office?

It can take 6-12 weeks on average for the Home Office to make a decision once the licence application has been submitted.

How long is the sponsorship licence valid for?

The licence is valid for 4 years.

What happens to sponsored workers after four years?

You can renew your licence under a simplified process, and this should be successful as long as you have a good track record of compliance.

Failure to renew a licence means the organisation will no longer be able to act as a licensed sponsor from the expiry date. Once expired, all migrant workers will no longer be lawfully employed by the company in question. In these circumstances, the sponsored workers' visas will likely be curtailed and given a 60-day leave period and given little time to find a new visa route to remain in the UK.

If the licence is not renewed or the affected employee has not made a new Skilled Worker (or other) application, they will have to leave the UK. Therefore it is important to keep a note of the expiry date of your licence to avoid losing your sponsored workforce.

Myths in Recruiting Overseas Workers

"My company isn't big enough to qualify"

There is no minimum number of existing employees needed to apply for a sponsor licence.

"How long do I have to be trading to meet the criteria?"

There is no minimum period.  Even start-ups can apply.

"It all looks complicated"

If you are running a compliant business, then the process is very simple. It is only complicated, if you do not already have an effective compliant HR infrastructure in place. We can help advise on the appropriate compliance methods for your business.

"It's too difficult to manage and has too much red-tape"

While the process can appear daunting, complicated and bureaucratic, it can be processed online, and with our help, management of your licence can be handed over to our experienced team.

"Overseas recruits now have the ability to be highly qualified"

The true reality is that to recruit overseas talent an organisation just needs to show that it has a genuine vacancy at the required level and holds a UK presence.

There are hundreds of roles eligible for sponsorship that vary from chefs, jockeys, ceramic artists, coffin makers, vent chick sexers, computer engineers through to constructions workers. Employers now have the potential to hire overseas talent for these roles if UK workers, with the required skills, are difficult to come by.

"Do I need to sponsor EU nationals?"

If the EU nationals do not have pre-settled/settled status, then yes, it’s likely they will require sponsorship unless they’re currently in the UK on another visa.

"Where can I recruit from?"

No countries are exempt, as long as the applicant meets the eligibility requirements for the Skilled Worker visa, you can recruit from anywhere.

Migrate UK Immigration Legal Specialists

UK Business only – Book your free consultation

We are delighted to offer all UK businesses a free consultation and carry out an initial review of your circumstances.

We will show how we can: –

  • Make the process pain free
  • How this route can be cost effective to you
  • And, how we manage the whole process for you and your organisation

Migrate UK have successfully processed 6,500+ Employer Sponsor Licences for UK businesses. We manage the whole process for our clients and give you the peace of mind and continued support via your dedicated Immigration Specialist Account Manager.

If you are a UK business and would like to know more about recruiting overseas talent, please get in touch with the team here at Migrate UK.

Download our Guide which is packed full of information you will need to understand how to apply for a sponsorship licence and compliance regulations you need to be aware of.


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