For small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), the sponsorship process can appear quite daunting, time consuming, bureaucratic and inflexible. The Home Office guidance on sponsorship is vast and as a result, it may be arduous for smaller businesses, with limited resources, to find the exact information they need. This can impede the ability for SMEs to recruit the international talent and skills that would help their business grow.
Tier 2 of the UK points-based immigration system is one of the most important employment UK doorways for non-EEA skilled workers. As an SME, it’s a valid route to go down if you have been unable to fill your vacancy with a resident worker, and you’ve identified a suitable overseas candidate.
You will need Home Office permission to sponsor an overseas worker. Sponsorship acts as an oath that you accept your migrant worker responsibilities; the culpability is on you, the SME, to meet specific record keeping, reporting and compliance obligations.
Once you have successfully gained sponsor status , you’ll be given a licence rating. An A-rated licence lets you start assigning certificates of sponsorship. Your A-rated licence may be downgraded to a B-rating at a later stage if you don’t continue to meet your sponsor duties.
You’ll be able to issue certificates of sponsorship if you have jobs that are suitable for sponsorship.
Your licence will be valid for 4 years. You may lose your licence if you don’t meet your responsibilities as a sponsor.
Before sponsoring a migrant under Tier 2, you must check the job meets the Home Office required skill level and correct rate of pay. And, if the role is one that isn’t deemed to be a shortage occupation by the Home Office you’ll need to advertise your vacancy to demonstrate that no suitable resident worker could be found. There are strict criteria the advertising methods must meet in order for the Resident Labour Market Test to be deemed compliant by the Home Office. Once these criteria have been met, a Certificate of Sponsorship can be assigned via your sponsor license.
A Certificate of Sponsorship is issued by the employer in respect of the migrant worker filling the job on offer. Despite the name, it’s not an actual certificate – it’s a unique reference number, which holds information about the job and the migrant worker.
Once this first stage has been completed by the SME the second stage of the process needs to be completed by the identified migrant in their country of residence. To come to the UK to start work in the role, the migrant worker must score a number of points, awarded for attributes and salary, among others. Providing these criteria (and any others applicable under the Immigration Rules) are met, the overseas worker can apply for a UK visa.