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UK Immigration – Applying for a sponsor licence

From January 1st, 2021 the UK’s post-Brexit immigration system will come into force. UK employers will need to hold a sponsor licence in order to employ new recruits from the European Economic Area (EEA), after free movement ends.

This means that EEA nationals will be in the same category as nationals from countries outside of the EEA and Switzerland.

It’s important to understand how these changes may affect your recruitment practices, and what you need to do to ensure you can continue employing EEA nationals in 2021 and beyond.

Two types of licence
Organisations can apply to sponsor workers under either Tier 2 (skilled work) or Tier 5 (temporary work or an exchange scheme).

Tier 2 Licence
The Tier 2 (General) Licence and Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) visa routes are currently a means for non-EEA nationals to live and work in the UK. These routes will be extended to nationals from EEA countries and Switzerland from 2021.

Tier 5 Licence
The Tier 5 Licence (Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange) visa enables workers to come to the UK through an approved government authorised exchange scheme. This allows the worker to complete work experience, training, academic research or fellowship, or to take part in an Overseas Government Language Programme

Will your organisation need a sponsor licence?
You should assess the current nationality make-up of your current workforce, and if your business operates on a multi-national basis. You should also assess any requirements that you have for non-British national staff to move to the UK to work for any length of time.

What impact will the end of EEA free movement have on your recruitment, and international staff movement within your company? These are the questions that you will need to ask yourself to see if you need a sponsor licence.

Eligibility for sponsorship
There are a number of criteria that must be met if a potential employee is to be eligible for sponsorship:

  1. Salary – employees must be paid at least £25,600 to gain eligibility for sponsorship unless they can satisfy other criteria such as their job being listed on the Shortage Occupation List.
  2. Skill level – the skill level of the role to be filled will need to be at least RQF3, the equivalent of an A-Level in the English education system.
  3. English language – candidates for sponsorship must be able to speak English.

Applying for a licence
If you think your organisation will need a licence an application can be made online via the government website. Supporting documents will need to be forwarded to the Home Office that contain key information about your organisation.

Applications usually take between three and five weeks.

The Home Office carefully considers applications for sponsor licences. If one or more requirements have not been met, then there is a good chance that the application will be refused.

Getting your application right
It’s vital that any application for a sponsorship licence is prepared thoroughly, with careful consideration given to how each application is framed. All of the supporting evidence needs to be compiled and presented in the correct manner.

Before submitting your application it’s important to receive advice from a legal specialist with experience of immigration and employment law.

Murria Solicitors can help you understand the new requirements, how they may apply to your business, and how best to frame your application to achieve success.

Contact us now for more advice.

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