Overseas employment candidates can be a valuable asset to an organisation. The Government has recently acknowledged that there are significant shortages of highly skilled workers in a wide range of sectors, including engineering, architecture, surveying, software development and healthcare. In addition, international staff can bring additional benefits such as language skills and cultural knowledge. This can be invaluable for businesses that have clients or suppliers in other countries.
The main visa available for employees to come and work in the UK is a ‘Tier 2 (General) visa. These can be used to recruit highly skilled workers and to transfer senior staff between companies in an international group. There are also categories for Intra-company transfers, Ministers of Religion and Professional Sportspeople.
1. Do you have a sponsor licence?
If you want to employ an international worker under Tier 2 (General), then you need to sponsor them. In order to do this, you need to get a sponsor licence from the Home Office. This is done by submitting an online application and by providing additional supporting representations, information and documents.
2. Highly skilled role?
Generally, if you want to sponsor an employee under Tier 2 (General), the job that they will do must be ‘highly skilled’ i.e. it must be a job that usually requires a university graduate. These are set out by the Home Office in the Immigration Rules.
3. Shortage Occupation?
If the role that you want to fill is not ‘highly skilled’, then you may still be able to sponsor them if the role is a ‘shortage occupation’. These are jobs that the Home Office accept that there are not enough suitable candidates in the settled workforce. These are also set out in the Immigration Rules. It covers, for example, certain specialist chefs, certain specialist welders and graphic designers.
A number of highly skilled roles are also on the shortage occupation list. If the role you need to fill is on the list, then you do not have to complete the ‘resident labour market test’ set out at point 5.
There salary for the post must be high enough in order for you to sponsor the employee and this can be complicated. There is a minimum salary for all Tier 2 (General) employees. It is £30,000 for experienced workers and £20,800 for ‘new entrants’. However, there are also minimum rates for each type of job, and they are often higher. You must pay the higher of the two rates.
5. Settled workers available?
In the majority of cases, a sponsor must try to recruit from the settled workforce before sponsoring a Tier 2 (General) employee. This is called the ‘resident labour market test’. The Home Office have very specific rules regarding how this must be done, and it is important to abide by them, and to keep evidence of this.
If you need advice in relation to obtaining a sponsor licence or are considering Tier 2 sponsorship, you can contact Cartwright King for advice on 0808 168 5550.