As the UK heads towards the other side of lockdown, certain sectors are experiencing staff shortages as a result of UK’s exit from the European Union.
There have been increasing concerns for employers across numerous sectors as the UK now faces the reality of an end of free movement of workers from the EU.
The new points system governs how employers in the UK will recruit skilled workers from overseas.
A number of positive changes were introduced to protect the UK’s most vulnerable industries. The abolishment of the resident labour market test means that businesses are able to recruit specialist workforce from a global market without the need to prove that a suitable worker is not available in the UK.
A reduction in the required skill level from RQF Level 6 to Level 3 also means that the minimum annual salary requirement has been reduced.
The annual quota of migrants being allowed to be sponsored has been suspended allowing businesses to choose from a wider market.
How to sponsor staff from overseas?
Employers must first apply to the Home Office to become an approved sponsor. You will need to ensure that you are eligible to apply and must have the appropriate systems in place to show an effective monitoring system.
You must choose the category of licence you want to apply for, which will be determined by the industry you operate in and the type of skilled worker you wish to employ.
The Home Office will usually make a decision on your application within eight weeks, and if successful, you will be granted a sponsor licence for four years. You will be able to submit a request for Certificate of Sponsorship for the worker you wish to employ using your Sponsor Management System (SMS).
Key requirements for a skilled worker are:
A confirmed job offer from an approved sponsor
The job must be at the appropriate level and on the list of approved occupations
The salary must be at least £25,600 (or going rate for the occupation, whichever is higher) – an employee may be paid less than the salary threshold in some cases
English language at the required level
Responsibilities as an approved sponsor
As a UK-based employer, you are placed under a positive duty to prevent illegal working and must ensure compliance with the UK immigration laws and wider laws.
A significant trust is placed in employers when granting their application to become an approved sponsor licence holder to sponsor non-settled workers.
It is therefore imperative that you ensure compliance with the law and not behave in a manner that is deemed not conducive to public good. All sponsor licence holders must comply with their duties to:
Prevent abuse of immigration laws and sponsorship arrangements.
Identify patterns of behaviour that may cause concern and have systems in place to address the relevant concerns.
Monitor compliance with the Immigration Rules and wider UK laws.
Ensure they do not behave in a way that is detrimental to the wider public good.
As a sponsor licence holder your responsibilities commence on the day your application is approved; however, you must have the appropriate systems in place to monitor employees prior to submitting the application.
Tips for Shropshire employers
Be pro-active and apply early to become an approved sponsor and avoid risk of staff shortages
Seek legal advice/assistance when submitting the application. A refusal may mean you cannot re-apply for 6-12 months.
Ensure that you have the appropriate monitoring systems in place and familiarise yourself with sponsor duties.
Ikram Malik is business immigration partner at Aaron & Partners, based in Shrewsbury.