Apply now for a Tier 2 sponsor licence before 2021 visa rules!

Comments by Sanwar Ali:

Boris Johnson insists that free movement for EU/EEA citizens will end after the end of 2020.  Apparently it has been formally agreed with the EU on or about 12 June 2020, that there will be no extension to the Brexit transitional period beyond the end of this year.  With everything that has happened can we really be so certain that there will not be an extension to the transitional period? 

Anyway, employers should prepare for 31 December 2020 to be the last day of the Brexit transitional period.  It is intended that free movement for newly arriving EU nationals should end at the end of this year.  So employers should apply for a Sponsor Licence to employ migrants on Tier 2 visas soon.

With the Home Office’s controversial UK immigration bill backed by ministers following its second reading, UK employers hoping to recruit EU workers from 2021 are being urged to apply for a Tier 2 sponsor licence. New UK visa rules are set to come into effect on 1 January 2021 when free movement of EU citizens to the UK, comes to an end.

A number of studies have shown that many British businesses are completely unprepared for the impact that strict UK visa and immigration rules will have on their ability to hire workers from within the European Economic Area (EEA).

2021 is fast approaching and UK employers are being urged to assess whether their business will need a Tier 2 sponsor licence or risk skills shortages that threaten their business operations.

Workforce and business assessment

Employers are being advised to conduct a workforce and business audit to assess whether a Tier 2 sponsor licence is needed. Business owners should determine how many non-UK staff they have, check if there are any vacancies that can only be filled by a qualified worker from Europe and assess how an end to free movement could affect business operations.

Multinational businesses are being urged to assess how new UK visa and immigration rules could affect staff coming from Europe to the UK to work on a long-term work assignment, with Tier 2 intra-company transfer rules also changing under the government’s new immigration bill.

Tier 2 visa sponsorship eligibility

For many UK employers, this will be their first time encountering the UK Visas and Immigration department of the Home Office. If an employer deems a Tier 2 visa sponsor licence necessary, it’s important that they familiarise themselves with the eligibility requirements.  We compare the current Sponsor Licence system to the new 2021 system below.

  • Salary requirement – any job offered to a non-UK citizen must pay a minimum salary of £20,800 per year for “new entrants” for an employer to be eligible for sponsorship.  For those who are 26 years of age and are not switching from a Tier 4 student visa the minimum salary is £30,000.  If the salary rate in the codes of practice for skilled workers is higher than this, then the higher salary must be paid.  Under the new 2021 system more people will come under a new £25,600 per year salary requirement, which would be helpful in some cases.
  • Skill level – In most cases migrant workers should be employed in a job role with a skill level of RQF6.  There are some exceptions to this for example for jobs that on the Shortage Occupation List. It should be noted that under the UK system in many cases there is no qualifications requirement. Therefore a "degree level" job may not require you to have a degree.  Under the new 2021 system a skill level of RQF3 (about English A Level Standard) instead of RQF6 (degree level) will be required. 
  • English language requirement – foreign nationals hired by a UK business must be able to meet the English language requirements. Full details have not been provided.  However, under the new 2021 system it may be easier for some people to meet the English language requirements.

Managing Tier 2 sponsor licence requirements

Under the terms of Tier 2 visa sponsorship, employers must assign three Sponsor Management job roles. For smaller businesses the same person may take on all the Sponsor Management roles. UK employers will need to choose one or more UK resident individuals suitable for the following roles:

  1. Authorising officer – a senior-level person within an employer’s organisation whose duties include the oversight of and actions under a Tier 2 sponsor licence.
  2. Key contact – A designated person who will serve as the main point of contact between a business and the UK Visas and Immigration department of the Home Office.
  3. Level 1 user – who will be responsible for the day-to-day administration of a company’s sponsor licence.

Create a Tier 2 sponsor licence blueprint

If you’re a multinational business seeking to transfer staff into the UK, it’s advised that employers assess where these migrant workers will arrive from and how they will be deployed in the UK.

To obtain a Tier 2 intra-company transfer licence, the Home Office will need to see documentation relating to the overseas branch of a business from which migrant workers will be transferred into the UK.  However, because of restrictions under the Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer visa scheme for employees, many employers and employees apply under the Tier 2 General visa scheme instead.

Under the Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer visa scheme employers must provide the Home Office with proof that a subsidiary is linked to the parent company of the sponsor licence applicant by common ownership and control at the application stage. This is not needed for the Tier 2 General visa scheme. When hiring an overseas worker on a Tier 2 visa, full details of the work location should be provided to UK visas at the Home Office.

Applying for a sponsor licence

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, sponsor licence applications may face delays, which is why employers are being urged to apply as soon as they can.

Employers must complete the necessary application form and provide supporting documents, outlining key information about a company.

The Home Office carefully assesses all Tier 2 sponsor licence applications, and may determine that one or several qualifying criteria have not been met, resulting in the application being rejected.

Tier 2 sponsor licence applications must be prepared thoroughly. A number of applications are rejected on a minor technicality, so it’s important that any supporting evidence is provided and in a format requested by the Home Office.

For employers unfamiliar with UK Visas and Immigration processes, it’s advised that specialist help is sought.

Workpermit.com can help with Tier 2 Visa Sponsor Licence and Tier 2 Visa

If you need help with a Tier 2 visa, or a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence, including help with complying with your Tier 2 Sponsor Licence obligations, workpermit.com can help.

For more information and advice on Tier 2 Sponsor Licences, UK immigration law and UK visa applications please contact us on 0344 991 9222 or at london@workpermit.com