How to protect your business after Brexit
Mandie Sewa | 20.02.2019
18.01.2018 Mandie Sewa
Any business that wants to employ workers from outside the EU will usually need to get a Sponsor Licence.
How do I apply for a Licence?
There are lots of categories that you can use to apply for a Sponsor Licence. These will generally depend upon your type of organisation and if you want to bring skilled workers here in the long (Tier 2) or short (Tier 5) term. You can apply for a Licence covering either tier or both.
Tier 2 is spilt into various categories and is for multinational companies who want to transfer employees to the UK, people coming to work for a religious organisation (for up to 3 years), elite sportspeople and coaches who will be based in the UK, and general UK based organisations provided the role meets the Home Office job suitability requirements
Tier 5 is split into various categories including people coming to work for up to 1 year as unpaid charity workers, sportspeople, Government Authorised Exchange work experience; and for up to 2 years as entertainers, artists, religious preachers, pastoral and non-pastoral workers, and research projects or training, such as practical medical or scientific training to enable a short term exchange of knowledge. In some cases workers can also come to do a jobs covered by international law, such as employees of overseas governments.
So, you can apply can apply for a Licence in a number of different tiers. This post is just a snapshot focusing on Tier 2 general employment.
What do I need to do to apply?
There are lots of hoops to jump through before your make your application. These include allocating roles, making sure your HR systems are up to scratch, deciding how you will monitor your employees and report them to the Home Office for not turning up to work, and collating several documents specific to your organisation. The actual duties are all listed in the 205 page Home Office guidance document. Once you have been granted a Licence you will need to nominate who will use the Sponsor Management System (SMS). The SMS is a Home Office online tool used for most things to do with your Licence.
How can I get my potential employee to the UK?
Ok, so you’re successfully granted the Licence. It will be valid for 4 years. Great! Now what?
You must issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to your potential overseas employee. This is a virtual document that every overseas employee will need to have to apply for their visa to work in the UK. It is issued using the SMS once you have been granted a Licence. The CoS must be used within 3 months or it will become invalid.
Just to complicate things further, there is not only one type of CoS. You can apply for an unrestricted CoS or a restricted CoS. If your employee is going to be paid over £159,600 per year, or if they are already in the UK and switching into this category (there are a few other scenarios) then you will need to issue an unrestricted CoS. If however, your employee doesn’t meet the above criteria you will need to apply for a restricted CoS. There is a cap of 20,700 CoS issued per year. Although this sounds a lot, where compared to the 2.24 million EU Nationals employed in the UK, it is suddenly not so huge. The 20,700 allocations are split into smaller monthly allocations so only 1,725 per month. Any that are not used are rolled over to the next month.
Unfortunately issuing a restricted CoS is not as simple as clicking a few buttons on the SMS. You need to make sure that the job is at the right skill level, you are paying the correct salary unless the job is advertised on the Government’s approved shortage occupation list, you have advertised correctly and made sure no one from the EU can do the job.
Is it expensive?
Home Office costs include, applying for a Licence (from £536 to 31,000), adding an extra tier (up to £946), issuing a CoS (£199), and paying an additional charge for each foreign worker you employ called the Immigration Skills Charge (from £364 to £1,000). Then of course there is a substantial cost to your business such as the time spent by you or your HR department to learn how to use the SMS as the Home Office does not provide any training apart from manuals and several Codes of Practice which are not short documents.
What if we make a mistake?
Yes, you have guessed it. There is not much discretion issued even if you accidentally make a mistake. The Home Office publish examples of when your Licence will definitely be revoked (e.g. one of your SMS users share their top secret password with someone else), and when it might be revoked, (e.g. you did not advertise the job properly). You will not be able to appeal if your application is unsuccessful, but you can reapply. You will usually have to wait at least 6 months before you can do this.
If your Licence is not revoked it will be down graded and you will be forced to improve and pay for an action plan that costs another £1,476. You must do this 10 working days from when the Home Office tells you about the down grade. If you do not your Licence will be revoked. Whilst the action plan is in place you will not be able to employ any more overseas workers until your Licence has been upgraded.
How can we help?
Our experienced Immigration Team offer bespoke tailor made solutions to suit our individual client needs including:
If you have any questions about applying for a Sponsor Licence or sponsoring non-EU migrants generally, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 020 3818 5433.