What you need to do to keep your business moving forward.
What is the one thing you would use to describe the UK? One of the most important aspects to the dynamic of the UK, is the value of different cultures coming together within one nation, this has been made possible because of the free movement within Europe. The combination of British and European talent, coming together to create greatness, has been a staple as to why the London start-up ecosystem is currently ranked in the top 5 in the world and the biggest in Europe. So, why would we change this?
Brexit has now changed the free movement into the UK and has enforced changes to how UK businesses can hire from the EU. This will mean hiring will be a longer and more costly process in which you will also have to abide by some rules and procedures, unless candidates have settled or pre-settled status, registered before 31st December 2020.
In this short blog, I am going to discuss how you can continue to hire from the EU post-Brexit, in addition to the processes and systems you will need to set up to successfully sponsor candidates’ visas.
How to Acquire a Sponsorship License
First of all, to be able to get a sponsorship license, you will need to check your businesses eligibility. There are some criteria you will have to meet initially, including:
- No unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences or certain other crimes, such as fraud or money laundering.
- No history of a sponsor licence being revoked in the last 12 months.
You will also require the appropriate systems in place to be able to monitor sponsored employees.
It is important as a business that you select the correct license dependent on the type of candidates that you will be employing. This will be either ‘workers’ or ‘temporary workers’. A business can apply for a license which covers either one of both types.
Focusing on the worker license, this is used for employers who are looking to employ someone to a long-term permanent contract. Within the technology and investment sectors you will likely be employing someone who is defined as a skilled worker and this will mean they will need to meet the job suitability requirements.
The business will need to assign an employee who will be responsible for managing the sponsorship internally. This will need to be officially appointed and the person/s will need to use the sponsorship management system (SMS).
Finally, you will need to complete your application for the license. This is done online and will require you to also send a submission sheet found at the end of the application and the four supporting documents for reviewal. You can apply for the license using this link - https://www.gov.uk/uk-visa-sponsorship-employers/apply-for-your-licence.
Your Responsibilities as a Sponsor
As a business you will have responsibilities to ensure that;
- the European workers you are employing all have the necessary skills and qualifications to be able to successfully do their job, records of documents must be maintained to show this.
- the business only provides a certificate of sponsorship to new workers if the job is applicable for sponsorship.
- you inform the UK Visas and Immigration if the workers are not complying with their visa conditions.
It is also essential for you as an employer to monitor the candidates throughout their employment with the business. You must have HR systems in place that let you:
- monitor your employees’ immigration status.
- keep copies of relevant documents for each employee, including passport and right to work information.
- track and record employees’ attendance.
- keep employee contact details up to date.
- report to UKVI if there is a problem.
You must report any significant changes in your own circumstances within 20 working days, for example if you:
- stop trading or become insolvent.
- substantially change the nature of your business.
- are involved in a merger or take-over.
You must also tell UKVI if you’re changing your details, like your address or allocated roles. To register a change of circumstances you will need to use the sponsorship management system (SMS).
Sponsorship Management System
The SMS is useful for reporting any changes to the business, the candidates or any particular circumstances. The SMS is used to:
- manage or renew your organisation’s licence or services.
- create and assign certificates of sponsorship to prospective employees (Worker or Temporary Worker).
- create and assign confirmations of acceptance for studies (CAS) to prospective students.
- report changes of circumstances of your sponsored employees or students, including withdrawal of sponsorship.
- report changes to your own circumstances, for example a change of owner or a new location.
There is a sponsorship management system user manual which can be found on the governments website at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/manage-your-sponsorship-licence-sms-user-manual.
What Supporting Documents are Required
To finalise the application for a sponsorship license, you are required to send alongside four supporting documents. What you will need to send will be determined by what sort of organisation you are, such as either a start-up or a franchise. The full list of what is required can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/supporting-documents-for-sponsor-applications-appendix-a/appendix-a.
For a skilled worker you will also need to information on:
- why you are applying for a sponsor licence.
- what sector you operate in.
- what your opening/operating hours are.
You must provide an up-to-date hierarchy chart detailing any owner, director and board members. If your business has 50 employees or fewer, you must list all employees and set out the names and titles of all staff.
Information about the jobs you wish to fill and for which you intend to assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). Include the following information for each job:
- job title and occupation code.
- duties and role responsibilities.
- where the job sits on the hierarchy chart within the business.
- minimum salary you would guarantee if the job were vacant today.
- skill, experience and qualifications required for the role.
When sending in these documents you can scan or take pictures of your submission sheet and supporting documents and send them to the email address given on the submission sheet. Make sure your files:
- are in PDF, JPEG or PNG format.
- have descriptive titles, with 25 or fewer characters.
- are high enough quality to be read.
You must indicate which jobs are currently vacant and for which you intend to assign a CoS. If you have already identified someone that you wish to employ via the sponsorship system, you should provide evidence of how you identified this person. If you identified this person as a result of a recruitment process, you should include copies of advertisements placed to recruit for the job, details of any applicants and why they were not suitable for the job. You should confirm whether the person is already working for you.
It is also critical to determine whether the candidate which you are hiring and looking to sponsor will meet the job suitability requirements. A skilled worker must meet certain requirements depending on the job that they are entering the country to do. The candidate must be awarded 50 mandatary points and 20 tradeable points, all of which are assigned to them and used to determine their suitability. Full disclosure of how these points are assigned can be found at - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules/immigration-rules-appendix-skilled-worker.
Fees and Requirements
Last but not least, you need to pay a fee when you apply. The fee depends on the type of license that you would be applying for and also the type of organisation you are. This would categorise you into small, medium or large sponsors.
You’re usually a small sponsor if two of the following apply:
- your annual turnover is £10.2 million or less.
- your total assets are worth £5.1 million or less.
- you have 50 employees or fewer.
The following table will present how much it will cost to apply for the license depending on these factors.
Type of licence
Fee for small or charitable sponsors
Fee for medium or large sponsors
Worker and Temporary Worker
Add a Worker licence to an existing Temporary Worker licence
How Long it takes to get a Decision
Most applications (8 out of 10) are dealt with in less than 8 weeks. UKVI may need to visit your business.
You may be able to pay £500 to get a decision within 10 working days. You’ll be told if you can after you apply.
Applications Refused because of a Mistake
You can apply to request a view of your application if you think it was refused because:
- the caseworker processing your application made a mistake.
- your supporting documents were not considered.
If you have any further questions about hiring European talent post-Brexit, please don’t hesitate in contacting our team on email@example.com.