What is the Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence?
As one of several routes designed to allow UK employers to recruit talent from overseas, it is the main route to long-term employment. Once granted a licence, the organisation is permitted to recruit and sponsor potentially any number of non-UK nationals under the route.
Before applying for the licence, the business must be able to show that:
- It is a legally operating UK organisation;
- There is a genuine need for a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence; and
- The organisation understands fully its duties and responsibilities as a sponsor with the appropriate HR systems and processes in place.
The organisation must show a real need for a Sponsor Licence by submitting either evidence that there is a genuine vacancy, a potential suitable candidate requiring sponsorship, or evidence of the organisation’s likely future need to recruit individuals to jobs that meet the Skilled Worker criteria.
Under the scheme, sponsorship will be possible as long as the job that they will be doing is sufficiently skilled to Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) Level 3 and they are paid a sufficient salary, at least £10.10 per hour, and £20,480 annually (but dependent upon the type of job being carried out).
In addition, the applicant must be able to show that they have a certain level of proficiency in the English Language.
If you are interested in finding out more about the Skilled Worker Sponsor licence, click here to speak to Partner Emma Peacock.
What is the High Potential Individual Visa?
Launched on 30 May 2022, the new High Potential Individual (“HPI”) visa route is one of several other routes of entry opened this year.
Recent graduates of top overseas universities who want to work or look for work in the UK following completion of their degree are encouraged to utilise this visa. It is designed to attract the “brightest and the best” to the UK.
Applicants must have successfully passed a bachelor’s degree or above from a recognised leading university in the last five years. (Separate lists exist for each of the last 5 academic years, enabling applicants to determine whether their university qualified at the time they graduated).
Employers do not need to sponsor the candidate under this route; the individual must make their own visa application which will include supporting themselves financially and the usual English Language requirement.
Successful applicants will be able to come to the UK for two years (with a bachelor’s degree) or three years (with a PhD) and work in any role. Unfortunately, this route cannot be extended and does not lead to settlement, although it may be possible to switch into another visa route, prior to expiry of the term.
If you are interested in finding out more about the High Potential Individual visa, click here to speak to Partner Emma Peacock.
To read other articles in this series, click on the links below:
What is the Global Business Mobility visa?
Introduced in April 2022, this route provides various ways for an overseas business to operate in the UK with 5 categories which include:
- Senior or Specialist Worker – for a senior overseas manager or specialist employee, located outside the UK undertaking temporary work assignments in the UK business linked to their employer overseas. Particularly useful where an applicant cannot meet the English Language requirements for a Skilled Worker application.
- UK Expansion Worker visa – allowing an individual to come to the UK to set up a branch of an overseas business, as either a senior manager or a specialist employee.
- Secondment Worker visa – a new route for overseas workers being seconded to the UK as part of a high value contract (at least £10m per annum and at least £50m overall) by their overseas employer.
- Graduate Trainee visa – (previously the ICT Graduate Trainee visa category) – allowing staff working at a connected group company on a graduate scheme to come to the UK as part of their training/graduate placement, with a view to them taking up a senior management or specialist position outside the UK.
- Service Supplier visa – for overseas workers who are either contractual service suppliers employed by an overseas service provider, or a self-employed independent professional and providing services covered by one of the UK’s international trade agreements.
In all cases, the business needs to apply for the sponsor licence and meet strict compliance and audit responsibilities in the usual way.
None of the routes lead to settlement and if this is being contemplated, then longer term options such as the Skilled Worker sponsor application should be considered.
To find out more about Global Business Mobility visas, click here to speak to Immigration Partner Emma Peacock.
For other articles in the series, click here to read:
Understanding the new Scale-Up Visa
A new Scale-Up Visa route will open to applications on 22 August 2022. A new route to entry, this is aimed at individuals with talent, a high level of qualification and skill.
For employers who are registered sponsors and experiencing rapid growth (needing to “scale up”), this route is designed to make the process of sponsoring visas quicker and easier.
Sponsored Scale-up visa applicants must have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship from an A-rated Scale-up sponsor have the specialist skills required to continued growth of the Scale-Up business and authorised by the Home Office to sponsor the job in question under the Scale-up route.
To qualify as a Scale-up, a sponsor will need to show:
- annualised growth in either turnover or staffing of at least 20% for the previous three-year period and
- a minimum of 10 employees at the start of the period.
Much of the flexibility of this new route is that unlike other immigration routes, a sponsoring employer need only confirm that an applicant is expected to work for them for at least the first six months of their visa.
The job for which the applicant is sponsored must be (amongst other things):
- a minimum skill level of RQF Level 6 (graduate level) (on a list published by the Home Office of jobs with their occupation codes and salary ‘going rates; and
- a salary threshold of at least £33,000 per annum (higher than a Skilled Worker’s £25,600), the ‘going-rate’ for the sponsored job and at least £10.58 per hour; and
- applicants must meet an English language and finance requirement.
Under this flexible immigration route, a second stage exists during which Scale-up Workers no longer require sponsorship. If applying after two years under the Scale-up visa, a worker would need to show that they had sufficient PAYE earnings for at least 12 months during those initial two years, in addition to a Scale-up Worker’s English language and finance requirements which at this stage are likely to be met automatically.
Provided these criteria are met, the visa application process would then be fast-tracked by the Home Office.
This is a route which could lead to settlement after five years, and applicants could bring dependent family-members. However, the individual would only need to be sponsored for the first six months, meaning that a sponsored employee would have more freedom to leave the employer and work elsewhere.
Employers utilising this route may therefore wish to consider other retention mechanisms, such as bonuses, restrictive covenants or repayment of visa fees on leaving.
If you are interested in finding out more about the new Scale-Up visa, click here to speak to Solicitor and Partner, Emma Peacock.
Read the second article in the series, Global Business Mobility visa by clicking here.
And the third, here: What is the High Potential Individual visa?