Overseas sponsored workers for the horse racing industry – are ‘new entrants’ the answer?

Oct 23, 2020

Migrate UK offer advice on overseas sponsored workers for the horse racing industry. How to make the best use of the new points-based immigration system.

Following the Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC) recommendation not to designate job code 6139 (Animal care services occupations) as a Shortage Occupation, it would be easy to think that the door remains shut on employing workers in this route.

January 2021 sees the re-introduction of medium skill level roles (RQF Level 3 and above) to the sponsored worker route for the first time since 2011. The necessity to advertise vacancies and the monthly visa quota have been removed so this means that main benefit of being a Shortage Occupation is the possibility of ‘trading points’ for a lower salary.

The minimum salary threshold for skilled workers will be £25,600 from January and this can be reduced to £20,480 for holding certain qualifications; being employed in a Shortage Occupation or being a ‘new entrant’ worker.

For those holding a sponsor licence, the latter option could be a consideration for the horse racing industry. New entrants are classed as those switching from student or a post study work status in the UK or those under the age of 26 at the time of making their visa application. Those who qualify can benefit from the lower salary threshold for up to 4 years.

From January 2021, the following job codes have been proposed to open to worker sponsorship:

6139 Animal care services occupations

  • Work riders
  • Head lad and travelling head lad for horseracing stables
  • Head groom for horseracing stables and performance horse stud farms
  • Competition groom
  • Stud hand, stallion handler, foaling specialists in performance horse
  • Head riding instructor

1213 Managers and proprietors in forestry, fishing and related services

  • Racehorse trainer
sponsored workers horse racing

Karen Kaur and Jonathan Beech. Immigration Lawyers


It is important to note that should employers not intend to pay the ‘experienced rate’ (currently £25,600) at the three-year stage, this option would not be suitable.

Another consideration for those wishing to sponsor overseas workers is the cost. Each worker will incur an NHS surcharge (£624 per year of sponsorship) and the employer will need to pay a Skills Charge (either £364 or £1000 per year of sponsorship depending on the size of the employing organisation). These costs are in addition to a visa fee (around £640) and the Certificate of Sponsorship itself (£199).


Other immigration routes could be available without the constraints of skill or salary levels.

These include:

  • EEA nationals who have been living in the UK prior to 11pm on 31st December 2020
  • dependants of sponsored workers or investors / entrepreneurs (Tier 1 & 2 categories)
  • dependants of longer-term students (Tier 4 General ‘Student’ category)
  • those who hold a ‘Graduate Scheme’ visa or residence permit from 2021
  • those with settlement status (indefinite leave to remain)
  • spouses / partners of settled persons (Family Life visa holders)
  • those with UK Ancestry
  • Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme holders
  • those who hold a Hong Kong (BNO) visa from 2021.


Don’t hesitate to contact us should you need any further advice or assistance with the above. Telephone 01235 841 568 or email info@migrate-uk.com