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Sponsorship under tier 2 visa criteria.

The Tier 2 visa application route is designed for overseas nationals who have received an eligible job offer in the UK through a points based system UK employer. To obtain a worker visa, applicants must be employed by a valid UK Employer.

If you are a UK-based employer, who is considering applying for authorization to employ non-settled worker under the Tier 2 visa route. We have outlined general and route-specific criteria UK employers need to fulfil when applying for a tier 2 visa  under a certificate of sponsorship.

Who Requires Sponsorship on the Tier 2 Visa Route?

If you intend to employ an overseas national who is not a settled national or does not have the necessary immigration status  to be employed in the UK, you will need to sponsor them. Which includes most EU, EEA, and Swiss nationals who arrived in the United Kingdom after 31 December 2020. To employ foreign nationals, you must first obtain UK Visa & Immigration approval.

There is no limit to the number of foreign nationals a licenced holder can employ. However, when applying for a Employer Licence, the online application form will ask for an estimate of the number of Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) you may wish to assign in your first year. A CoS must be assigned to a proposed employee you wish to employ before they can apply for a visa. Therefore, it is important to carefully consider the number of overseas employees you are likely to employ during your first year. You must be able to provide justification for your Certificate of Sponsorship allocation request.

visual map guide of step-by-step process of submitting a UK Spouse visa
1: How to Apply for a Skilled Worker Sponsor License
2: Employer Compliance
3: Route-specific Requirements for a Skilled Worker Sponsor License
4: Skill Level for a Skilled Worker Sponsor License

To successfully apply and employ overseas nationals, you must meet various general and route-specific criteria. As part of the application process, you must satisfy UK Visa & Immigrations general requirements:

  1. You are a genuine organization operating lawfully in the UK.

  2. You are honest, dependable, and reliable, with no history of engaging in behaviour or actions that are not conducive to the public good.

Route-Specific eligibility in addition to general criteria, you must meet.

 

These include:

  1. Having appropriate systems and processes in place to fulfil your administrative duties, such as record-keeping and compliance with immigration laws.

  2. Offering genuine employment that meets the skill and salary prerequisites of the role.

  3. Demonstrating there is a genuine role you require that it cannot be filled by British or settled national in the United Kingdom labour market.

  4. Ensuring the candidate will be paid at least the minimum salary threshold or the going rate for the occupation, whichever is higher.

  5. Providing evidence of your ability to meet the maintenance and accommodation criteria. 

  6. Undertake an appropriate Resident Labour Market recruitment process, unless the role is exempt.

  7. Maintain suitable records and reporting any changes or breaches of your duties to the Home Office.

By fulfilling these duties, you can increase your chances of obtaining a sponsorship licence and successfully recruit and employ overseas nationals.

 

Please note that this information serves as a general guide, and for detailed guidance and specific advice tailored to your situation, it is recommended to consult an immigration professional or contact the Home Office directly.


Employer Compliance 

UK Work Permit criteria for Tier 2 visa applications.


To obtain a sponsorship licence, you must meet the general requirements set by the Home Office. These include:


1.    Genuine organisation operating lawfully in the UK: You need to demonstrate that your organization is genuine and operates lawfully in the UK. This involves providing specific documents as outlined in Appendix A of the UKVI  guidance. The documents required will vary depending on your circumstances.


Appendix A is divided into four tables.

 
Table 1: States public authorities or companies listed on the Stock Exchange may have specific criteria to meet

Table 2: applies to start-ups, franchises, and charities. 
Table 3: lists the evidence required for a particular tier, and 
Table 4: includes additional possible documents, including the latest set of audited accounts if applicable.


In addition to providing information about your organization, the proposed job role, and the candidate, you must explain why you are applying for a sponsorship licence. Meeting these general requirements is essential to demonstrate your organization is legitimate and compliant with UK immigration rules.


In the next section, we will explore the route-specific criteria in more detail.


Route-specific obligations


When applying for a Sponsorship licence, there are specific prerequisites that pertain to this route. 

 

  1. You can offer employment that meets the skill level criteria: The job you are offering must meet the skill level of RQF level 3 or above, which is roughly equivalent to A-levels.

  2. You can offer employment that meets the salary level requirement of the route: The salary offered to the applicant must meet the general salary threshold, which is usually £26,200 per year. However, it may be £23,580 or £20,960 per year if the candidate scores tradable points. Specific salary requirements are determined by the standard occupation code and whether any tradable points apply.

  3. The job(s) you are recruiting for (are) genuine (i.e. not a temporary worker role): The Home Office will assess whether the job being offered is genuine and serves a legitimate purpose within your organization. This involves demonstrating the need for the role and providing supporting evidence it wont be carried out on a temporary worker basis.

  4. There is a direct employer-employee relationship between you and the employee: The Work Permit route requires a direct employer relationship, meaning the applicant will be employed by you and not hired to a third party to perform ongoing or routine tasks.

These route-specific requirements ensure that the employment being offered aligns with the objectives of the Sponsorship route and safeguards against misuse or exploitation. In the remainder of this article, we provide further details on these general and route-specific requirements for Sponsorship licence holders.


To discuss your Sponsorship Application needs with our immigration adviser, fill in our enquiry form below.


Skill Level Requirements


Before submitting a sponsorship application, it is important for employers to ensure that the job they are seeking to recruit meets the skill-level requirements.


The job being offered must typically require work experience at least to level 3 or above on the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) for England and Northern Ireland, or the equivalent level in Wales or Scotland. It is not necessary for the prospective applicant to have A-levels or an equivalent qualification, but the work they will be doing must be at this level.


Eligible occupations are listed in Appendix Skilled Occupations of the Immigration Rules. You can offer a role that is listed as eligible from either Table 1 or Table 2 of the Appendix, or falls under standard occupation code that best represents the role you plan to offer.


If the job is not listed as eligible, the applicant will not meet the skill-level needed for the visa. In such cases, applying for a Sponsorship licence would not be appropriate. As a sponsor, it is also important to choose an appropriate standard occupation code. The Home Office will assess whether you have selected the most suitable occupation code and consider factors such as demonstrating a genuine need for the role, ensuring the applicant possesses the necessary skills, qualifications, and experience, and evaluating your compliance history with the immigration system.


Meeting the skill level criteria is crucial to ensure that the applicant qualifies for a work visa and that your application for a sponsorship licence is successful. The next section, provides information on the financial requirements.


Salary Level Requirement


In addition to the skill level requirement, employers must ensure that they can offer employment that meets the salary criteria under the standard occupation code associated to the sponsorship route when applying. The salary being offered to a successful applicant should generally be equal to or exceed the following:

  1. The general salary threshold: For most jobs, is at least £26,200 per year. However, it can be at least £23,580 or £20,960 per year if the applicant plus role scores 'tradable points' (see below).

  2. The applicable 'going rate' for the occupation: The going rate is specified in Table 1 or Table 2 of Appendix Skilled Occupations. If the general salary threshold is higher than the going rate, you must pay the applicant at least the general salary threshold. If the general salary threshold is lower than the going rate, you must pay the applicant at least the going rate.

  3. Minimum hourly rate: If applicable, the minimum hourly rate is currently set at £10.75 per hour.

The general salary threshold is calculated based on actual gross earnings, up to a maximum of 48 hours per week. However, if the employee is on a pattern of irregular hours resulting in uneven pay, work in excess of 48 hours in some weeks can be considered towards the salary thresholds. The average over a regular cycle (which can be less than, but not more than, 17 weeks) should not exceed 48 hours per week. Any unpaid rest weeks will be considered when assessing whether the salary thresholds are met.


The going rate is calculated based on a 37.5 hour working week. It's important to ensure that the salary offered to the candidates meets or exceeds these requirements to comply with the worker visa route and successfully obtain a sponsorship licence.


In the next section, we discuss the concept of 'tradable points' that can affect the salary requirements.


Tradable points


Under the worker visa route, sponsored candidates may be eligible for a lower salary requirement if they are awarded additional "tradable points" based on certain attributes. These tradable points can affect the salary thresholds as follows:

 

  1. PhD Qualification: An applicant with a relevant PhD qualification may be paid a salary equal to or exceeding £23,580 per year and 90% of the going rate for the occupation, along with the minimum hourly rate.

  2. PhD Qualification in STEM Subject: If the applicant has a relevant PhD qualification in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics) subject, they may be paid a salary equal to or exceeding £23,580 per year and 80% of the going rate for the occupation, along with the minimum hourly rate.

  3. Job in a Shortage Occupation: If the job offer is for a role listed in the Appendix Shortage Occupation List, the salary threshold requirement will be reduced. The applicant must be paid a salary equal to or exceeding £20,960 per year and 80% of the going rate for the occupation, along with the minimum hourly rate.

  4. New Entrant to the Labour Market: A worker who qualifies as a new entrant to the labour market, such as those under the age of 26 at the date of application, postdoctoral researchers, or those working towards professional qualifications, registration, or chartered status, may be paid a salary equal to or exceeding £20,960 per year and 70% of the going rate for the occupation, along with the minimum hourly rate.

  5. Listed Health or Education Occupation: If the job is in a listed health or education occupation, the applicant must be paid a salary equal to or exceeding £20,960 per year and the going rate for the occupation.

A "job in a shortage occupation" refers to occupation roles employers struggle to find candidates with the necessary skills to fill vacancies. The Home Office maintains a list of these occupations.


A "new entrant to the labour market" includes individuals who meet specific criteria, such as being under 26 years old at the date of application, being sponsored in postdoctoral research positions, or working towards professional qualifications or registration. It's important to note that an applicant will not qualify as a new entrant if their total period of permission as a Skilled Worker, Tier 2 Migrant, and/or Graduate would exceed 4 years.


These tradable points and reductions in the salary threshold aim to facilitate the sponsorship of candidates with certain qualifications or in high-demand occupations, as well as support new entrants into the labour market. If you have any specific questions or need further guidance, feel free to get in touch using the contact form below.


Hourly rate


The Tier 2 visa route requires employers to pay the applicant at least the minimum hourly rate of £10.75 per hour under certain conditions. These conditions are as follows:

 

  1. Application Date: The candidate must be applying for a Tier 2 visa after 6 April 2021.

  2. Previous Permission: The applicant should not have held permission as a Skilled Worker or Tier 2 (General) Migrant under the previous Rules before 6 April 2021. If they did hold such permission, they should not have had continuous permission on those routes since they were initially granted.

  3. Occupation Code: The candidate will be employed using an occupation code listed in Table 1 of Appendix Skilled Occupations.

Please note that the minimum hourly rate requirement does not apply if the applicant will be sponsored in an eligible health or education occupation code listed in Table 2 of Appendix Skilled Occupations. If the salary offered by the employer is below the appropriate rate, the candidate will not qualify for entry clearance or permission to stay, and therefore, an application for a Sponsorship licence would not be considered suitable.


It is important to be aware that the Immigration Rules and Sponsor Guidance contain intricate rules regarding the calculation of employee salary rates, including allowances and pro-rating. Seeking expert legal advice regarding the skilled worker salary requirement may be beneficial. If you have any further questions or require additional clarification, please feel free to ask.


Genuine Employment Requirement


As part of your application for a Sponsorship licence, it is important to demonstrate to the Home Office that the job vacancy you are offering is genuine and meets the skill and salary criteria of the application route. The Home Office will assess whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that the job(s) you are seeking to sponsor do not actually exist, are created solely for the purpose of obtaining a Tier 2 Visa, or are sham positions.


If the Home Office finds that there is not a credible need for the role you are looking to sponsor within your business, your application may be refused. It is crucial to ensure that the job vacancy you are offering is legitimate and serves a genuine purpose within your organization.


If you have any further inquiries or need additional information, please feel free to ask.


Working for a Third-Party


When applying for a Sponsorship licence, it is important to note that the Home Office will assess whether you are assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship to a candidate that involves filling a temporary or permanent position with a third party who is not the sponsor. Additionally, you should not be engaging in contract work that entails undertaking an ongoing routine role or providing an ongoing routine service to a third party who is not a sponsor.


To satisfy the Home Office, there must be a direct employer-employee relationship between you the employer and the Tier 2 visa candidate. As the employer, you will be responsible for employing the applicant and ensuring their employment. If you have any further questions or need clarification, please let me know by completing our enquiry form below.


Appointing Key Personnel.

 

When applying for a Sponsorship licence, it is important to appoint key personnel who will play crucial roles in managing your licence and interacting with the Home Office.

 

These key roles include:

 

  1. Authorising Officer: Typically, a senior individual within your company or organization who is involved in recruitment and/or HR. The Authorising Officer holds overall responsibility for the licence and ensuring compliance with sponsorship duties.

  2. Key Contact: This person serves as the main point of contact between your business and the Home Office. It can be a legal representative if preferred.

  3. Level 1 User: This individual is responsible for day-to-day management of the Sponsorship Licence using the Sponsorship Management System (SMS). They handle tasks related to SMS activities on a regular basis. The Level 1 User must be an employee at the time of application, but once the SMS account is assigned, others, including legal representatives, can also be set up as Level 1 or Level 2 Users with limited account tasks.

It is important to note that each key personnel must meet certain criteria. They must be based in the UK for the duration of their role, have no unspent criminal convictions, civil penalties, adverse immigration history, or other adverse records. They should either be paid members of your staff or engaged by you as an 'office holder,' unless an exception applies.


During the application process, you will be asked to estimate and justify the number of Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) you wish to assign in your first year as a licensed holder. If your sponsor licence is approved, the Home Office will provide you with a CoS allocation for the year. You will have up to 12 months to utilize these certificates. It is possible to apply for an increase in allocation during the year, but it may take 18 weeks for processing unless a priority service is used.


Although unused CoS cannot be carried over to the following year, you can apply for a further allocation for the upcoming year during the validity period of your licence.


If you have any further questions or need clarification, please let me know.


When applying for a Sponsorship Licence


You will need to follow these steps:
 

  1. Determine the number of workers you intend to sponsor in your first year.

  2. Complete an online application form for Sponsorship Licence.

  3. Pay the required application fee.

  4. Gather and submit all the necessary supporting documents specified in Appendix A of the sponsor guidance within 5 working days of submitting your application.

  5. Provide information about the key personnel you have appointed, including their roles and responsibilities.

  6. Include the documents and evidence required to meet the eligibility criteria mentioned earlier in the process.

It is important to note that while a legal representative can assist you in completing the application form, the application itself must be submitted by the sponsor. If you have any further questions or require clarification, feel free to get in touch using the contact form below


How Much Does it Cost?


The cost of a sponsor licence application depends on the size of your organisation. For small companies or charities, the fee is £536.00, while medium or large-sized companies are charged £1,476.00.


Please note that these fees are subject to change, and it's always a good idea to check the official UK government website or consult with our immigration consultant Marc Gibson for the most up-to-date information regarding fees. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask.


Application processing times


Is usually up to 8 weeks. However, there is an expedited service called the priority service available for an additional fee of £500. This service guarantees a decision within 10 working days.


It's important to note that these processing times are approximate and can vary depending on various factors, including the complexity of the sponsorship application and the volume of applications being processed at the time. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask.


If your application is approved


Licences are valid for a period of 4 years. During this time, you will be able to employ overseas nationals under the Tier 2 visa route. To continue sponsoring candidates beyond the initial 4-year period, you will need to apply and  renew before it expires. It's important to keep track of the expiration date and initiate the renewal process in a timely manner to avoid any disruptions to your ability to employ overseas nationals.


In the event your application is refused, there is no right of appeal. Additionally, a cooling off period of six months will be imposed, during which you will not be able to reapply for a licence. It's crucial to carefully review the requirements and guidelines before submitting your application to increase the chances of a successful outcome.


If you have any more questions, feel free to ask.


Sponsorship Rating


Once your application is approved, your organization will be given an 'A' rating on the published register of licensed sponsors. This rating indicates that you have met the requirements and are compliant with your sponsor duties.


However, it's important to note that during the validity period of your sponsor licence, if the Home Office determines that you are not able to fulfil your sponsor duties or if you fail to act appropriately, they may downgrade your rating to a 'B'. If this happens, you will be provided with a time-limited sponsorship action plan that outlines the steps you need to take in order to regain an 'A' rating. It is crucial to adhere to the requirements of the action plan within the given timeframe.


Failure to meet the requirements outlined in the action plan may result in the revocation of your sponsor licence. It is essential to maintain compliance with the sponsor duties and ensure that you continue to meet the necessary obligations to retain your 'A' rating.


If you have any more questions, feel free to ask.


Immigration Requirements for a Tier 2 Visa


Employers should be aware that individuals who wish to obtain a Tier 2 Visa for the UK must meet certain eligibility criteria outlined in the Immigration Rules. Before assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to a worker, it is important to ensure that they meet the requirements for a Tier 2 Visa.


Apart from having a job that meets the appropriate skill level and salary requirements, applicants must also demonstrate English language proficiency at level B1 or higher in all four components: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. This proficiency is assessed based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.


Tier 2 visa applicants are also subject to a financial requirement. However, as an A-rated sponsor, you have the ability to certify that the financial requirement is met when assigning a CoS, if you choose to do so. Applicants who are applying for entry clearance and being employed for certain occupations in the health, care, welfare, and education sectors are generally required to provide a criminal record certificate for any country where they have resided for a cumulative period of 12 months or more in the 10 years preceding their application, starting from the age of 18. Sufficient time should be allowed to obtain the necessary documentation if this requirement applies.


For more detailed information about the requirements for a successful Tier 2 Visa application, it is advisable to refer to the official guidelines and Immigration Rules. If you have any further questions, feel free to ask.


Immigration Skills Charge


All employers who engage Tier 2 visa applicants, are required to pay the Immigration Skills Charge. This charge is applicable each time you assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to a Tier 2 candidate. The Immigration Skills Charge is designed to incentivize employers to invest in training and upskilling the domestic workforce by levying a fee on employers who recruit overseas nationals. The charge helps fund apprenticeships and other training programs to develop local talent.


The amount of the Immigration Skills Charge depends on the size and nature of your organization. The charge is currently set at £1,000 per year for each sponsored worker, with a reduced rate of £364 per year for small or charitable organizations. It's important to factor in the Immigration Skills Charge when considering the costs associated with sponsoring skilled workers under the Skilled Worker route.

 

If you have any more questions, feel free to ask.

Our immigration consultant is committed to providing comprehensive assistance to UK employers seeking to navigate the complexities of the immigration system. With his expertise, he can help you in the following ways:

 

  1. Skilled Worker sponsor licence application: He can assess your eligibility for a Skilled Worker sponsor licence and guide you through the application process. Our consultant will provide advice on the necessary documentation and assist you in preparing a strong business case that meets the Home Office requirements.

  2. Maintaining a high-rating licence: Once you obtain a sponsor licence, we can support you in maintaining a high rating. Marc will help you understand and fulfil your sponsor duties, including reporting requirements, record-keeping, and compliance within immigration rules. Our goal is to ensure that you meet your obligations set by the Home Office and maintain your licence status.

  3. Compliance with sponsor duties: Our consultant Marc Gibson will provide guidance on how to effectively manage your sponsor duties. He can help you establish appropriate HR and recruitment procedures to ensure compliance with the sponsorship requirements. By implementing robust systems and practices, you can demonstrate your capability to fulfil your duties as a sponsor.

  4. Ongoing support and advice: We offer ongoing support and advice to address any immigration-related queries or issues that may arise during the sponsorship process. Our consultant Marc complies will staying up-to-date with the latest immigration regulations through CPD training and can provide you with accurate and timely information to help you make informed decisions.

We take pride in our approachability and proactive approach to understanding and meeting the needs of our business clients. Our dedicated consultant is driven to deliver clear and reliable immigration advice, providing you with a professional and friendly service. If you have any specific questions or would like to discuss your immigration requirements, please feel free to reach out to us by completing the contact form below. 

5: Salary Level Requirement
6: Tradable points
7: Hourly rate
8: Genuine Employment Requirement
9: Working for a Third-Party
10: Appointing Key Personnel
11: When Applying for a skilled worker sponsor license
12: How much Does a Sponsor License Cost?
13: Processing time for a sponsor License
14: If your application for a license is approved
15: Sponsorship rating
16: Requirements for a Skilled Workers Visa
17: Immigration Skills Charge
18: How our Immigration Consultant can help
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