Tier 2 Sponsor Licence
If you are a UK Company and you wish to employ a skilled worker from outside the EEA then you will first need to submit a Sponsor Licence application to the UK Border Agency. It is vital that this is done correctly as there is no appeal process if you are refused.
Once you have been granted a Sponsor Licence you will be able to Sponsor non-EEA workers in roles that are suitably skilled and with a sufficient salary for Sponsorship.
How to apply for a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence
In order to obtain a Sponsor Licence you will need to be a legitimate organisation trading in the UK. You can apply for a Sponsorship Licence for Tier 2 General, Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) (for Companies with non-EEA offices who wish to transfer staff to the UK) or both.
The evidence required to support the Sponsor Licence application will vary, depending on the nature of your business, your trading history, the size of your business, organisation structure, current and future hiring requirements and other factors.
Your initial Sponsor Licence will usually be granted for a period of 4 years and will thereafter need to be renewed for a further 4-year period.
Sponsorship Duties and Sponsor Obligations
As an employer you are already required to check that employees have the right to live and work in the UK. You would usually do this by viewing a passport or other acceptable identification and keeping a copy of this on file.
In addition to your standard duties and responsibilities as an employer you will also be expected to:
- Inform the UK Border Agency of any significant changes to the migrant's circumstances, such as changes of job title, not turning up for work or employment ceasing. You must have compliant HR systems in place to enable this.
- Assign the correct type of Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS).
- Undertake and maintain records of the Labour Market Test where required.
- Pay the migrant at the appropriate rate.
Compliance and UKBA Audits
There is a strong chance that the Home Office will audit your Company. They can arrive without prior notice and must be permitted entry. It is therefore vital that you ensure you are compliant with the Sponsorship Licence rules and obligations and that this is suitably evidenced.
It is a responsibility for ALL employers (even those who do not have a Sponsorship Licence) to ensure all employees have the right to work in the UK. There is a process in place to check a prospective or current employee's visa status and right to work and correctly undertaking such checks will meet the UKBA requirements.
Before you can employ a non-EEA worker you will usually have to obtain and assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). There are two types of CoS available - Restricted and Unrestricted. An Unrestricted CoS is usually where the migrant is already in the UK and permitted to switch, the role is on the Skills Shortage List or the salary is above a certain level. Most other circumstances will require a Restricted CoS.
You will usually need to undertake a Labour Market Test to demonstrate that you could not find a suitable worker in the EEA. This will involve advertising and the wording and location of the advertisements is of significant importance. You will need to keep a record of applicants and reasons for not hiring EEA Citizens. The Labour Market Test is not required for some in-country switches or for Skills Shortage Occupations.
Once the CoS has been assigned to the migrant then they can apply for a Tier 2 General Visa.
There are different requirements for assigning a CoS under the Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) category but the role and salary must still be at the correct levels.