Employers faced with the situation of not being able to find appropriately skilled workers within the UK resident labour market, or faced with the prospect of not being able to keep a foreign student or other visa holder whom they have previously employed, and has become a valuable employee, are often unsure as to the immigration process of recruiting a non-UK/non-EU resident worker. With expert guidance from business immigration lawyers such as ourselves, it can be a relatively straightforward process.

If a business wishes to recruit a non-UK/non-EU foreign national, it must apply for a Sponsor Licence in the first instance, if they don’t already have one. One might think that applying for a Sponsor Licence and obtaining a visa is expensive and complex. However if the potential foreign national is able to add value to a company, then applying for a Sponsor Licence should not be considered onerous or cost-prohibitive.

A Sponsor Licence is an authorisation by the Home Office giving a business access to a software system to enable them to issue Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) to non-UK/non-EU foreign nationals. A Sponsor Licence can be obtained by applying online and submitting the prescribed documents which demonstrate that a business is a legitimately trading organisation.

Prior to any CoS being issued, an employer must ensure that the job on offer is at NQF level 6 or above which can be done by checking the SOC codes (a list of all the different types of jobs and their prescribed salaries). The employer will also have to advertise the position and check whether or not anyone in the resident labour market can fill the position, unless the job on offer is on the Home Office’s Shortage Occupation list, is an Intra Company Transfer, or, if the salary being offered is above £155,300. Advertising the job in the resident labour market is also not too difficult a task as long as the Home Office guidance is followed correctly and an objective methodical process for assessing the suitability of candidates is used.

Once a CoS is issued, the foreign national can apply for a Tier 2 visa. If the foreign national in the UK is in a switchable category, then a Tier 2 visa can be obtained within one day on an in person premium appointment, or there are cheaper options to file by priority/standard postal service. If the potential employee is overseas, they can apply for the Tier 2 visa at the nearest diplomatic post and obtain a visa in as little as five working days

Whilst the Sponsor Licence is in place the employer does have to ensure that they maintain records in relation to their employees to ensure that their Tier 2 visa holders are working within the terms of the visa issued to them and ensure that nobody has been inadvertently employed illegally.

We advise our clients to advertise the position first to establish that there is no-one in the resident labour market available. This demonstrates to the Home Office that there is a genuine need for a non-UK/non-EU national to do the job in question and it can help the process greatly. In our experience we have been able to ensure that our clients have been able to take on a non-UK/non-EU worker on a Tier 2 visa within the space of 6-8 weeks where they have had to apply from overseas.

For further information about how our immigration team can help you with your Tier 2 visa process, please contact the Edwin Coe Employment and Immigration Team.

Please note that this blog is provided for general information only. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content of this blog.

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