Key information

  • The way you hire from the EU has changed. You must be a licensed sponsor to hire eligible employees from outside the UK;
  • Anyone you want to recruit from outside the UK must meet the job, salary and language requirements under the points-based immigration system;
  • Some immigration routes, such as Global Talent, are 'unsponsored'. You don't need a licence to hire employees with an unsponsored visa;
  • The system treats EU and non-EU citizens equally. As a licensed sponsor, you can hire skilled workers from anywhere in the world;
  • Irish citizens can move freely and take up work in the UK under the Common Travel Area. They do not require a visa or any form of employment permit;
  • Some immigration routes, such as Global Talent, are 'unsponsored'. You don't need a licence to hire employees with an unsponsored visa.

Skilled Worker route

  • To be eligible to work in the UK under the Skilled Worker route, anyone you want to hire must demonstrate that:
    • They have a job offer from a Home Office licensed sponsor;
    • the job offer is at the required skill level – RQF 3 or above (A Level and equivalent);
    • they speak English to the required standard.
  • In addition to this, the job offer must meet the applicable minimum salary threshold. This is the higher of either:
    • the general salary threshold of £25,600, or;
    • the specific salary requirement for their occupation, known as the "going rate."
  • Applicants are able to trade characteristics, such as their qualifications, against a lower salary to get the required number of points.

Becoming a sponsor

  • Getting a sponsor licence normally takes eight weeks and fees apply;
  • Before applying, you should check that the people you want to hire will meet the requirements for coming to the UK for work;
  • To get a licence, you cannot have unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences or certain other crimes, such as fraud or money laundering.

Consider the need to apply for a sponsor licence to the Home Office. This is a requirement for any business wishing to recruit from abroad to the UK. Over 32,000 companies in the UK already hold a sponsor licence with the Home Office for hiring global talent. This licence can be used for recruiting both EU and non-EU nationals with no limitations to the number of employees employed through the licence.

There has been an increased volume of companies based in the IT/Tech and manufacturing sectors looking to futureproof recruitment plans by securing a sponsor licence. With the manufacturing sector, the demand for EU workers continues to be the case. Employers within the manufacturing sector will need to consider securing a sponsor licence with the Home Office due to the end of freedom of movement of EU nationals from 1 January 2021.

A real opening has developed for the manufacturing sector with a liberalisation of the immigration system. For the first time in the history of the Points Based system can manufacturing companies look to bring into Northern Ireland, plumbers, electricians, brick layers and welders. Recruitment is not confined to just the EU. Companies can source talent globally to come live and work in Northern Ireland under the new immigration system.

We have received a number of notifications from the Home Office in recent weeks outlining the increased processing times for sponsor licence applications. This will simply be down to the volume of new licence applications received by the sponsor licensing team at the Home Office in the run up to the introduction of the new immigration system. Currently we have been working tirelessly to prepare and submit sponsor licence applications on behalf of our clients with the increased processing times. 2021 is already shaping up to have even further delays to the processing of the sponsor licence with more companies applying than ever before due to the end of freedom of movement within the EU.

  This article has been produced for general information purposes and further advice should be sought from a professional advisor. Please contact our  Business and Private Immigration team at Cleaver Fulton Rankin for further advice or information.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.