The UK continues to experience a shortage of skills in multiple fields, including biomedical research, mechanical engineering or even IT. If your company works within these industries, there’s a good chance that you’ve found it difficult to find the skills you need within the U.K. labour market. In the wake of Covid-19 and the changes it saw implemented to ways of working, remote hiring and working might be an option for your business. For others however, they need to ensure that the person they hire can have a physical presence.
There’s no need for concern if you fall into the latter category however, there are visa routes available which will allow you to hire workers from abroad, and bring them to work in the U.K.
As well as the high potential individual visa, which allows those with the right qualifications to live and work in the U.K., The U.K. Sponsor Licence for skilled workers allows a U.K. business to sponsor a foreign worker. They are available for both short and long term hires and can be a great way for U.K. businesses to navigate issues like skill shortages.
If this is a route your business decides to take, there are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind as you navigate the process. You’ll need to make sure that the qualifications your chosen hire holds, are appropriate for the role you’re hiring them to fulfil. While they’re employed by your organisation, you’ll also be responsible for making sure that they live and work within the terms of their visa. If you discover that they have stepped outside of the bounds the visa places on their actions, you have a duty to report the infraction.
As well as the cost of onboarding and training, you’ll have to add the cost of the sponsor licence itself to the price of hiring workers through this method. You may also find the fee differs based on the current size of your organisation, and the length of time you wish to recruit someone to work for you.
Once you complete your application and it’s processed, your organisation will be given a licence rating. Initially you will be given a licence rating of A, and the rating will remain that way unless issues arise with your sponsorship. This could be that the terms of the licence haven’t been met or there is some other difficulty. If this occurs, then your licence rating would be downgraded to a B rating.
This doesn’t need to be cause for concern, as although it does mean you’ll have to place a hold on sponsoring any further workers, your A rating can be restored. You’ll be able to pay a fee to develop an action plan with the UKVI. Once you complete the plan, you’re A rating will be reinstated and as a result you’ll once again be able to sponsor workers through your business.
Although this short guide can give you some idea of the steps you’ll need to take to acquire a sponsor licence, the process, like all immigration routes can become complex. In order to avoid this becoming an issue for you, it may be worth contacting a specialist immigration law firm who are better equipped to handle the process. They can ensure you follow the correct steps and make sure your application progresses smoothly.
Jake Parker is a writer for the Immigration Advice Service.