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Those employers who already hold a sponsor licence will have received notification that the online Sponsor Management System was updated with effect from 1 December 2020. The old system for sponsoring individuals, for example as a Tier 2 (General) migrant, is no longer available and instead individuals requiring sponsorship will mostly fall under the new ‘Skilled Worker’ system.
The new system is more straight-forward and it should be easier to sponsor a worker under the ‘Skilled Worker’ system than it has been previously, for these key reasons:
- The resident labour market test has been abolished – so there is no requirement to advertise the role first for 28 days
- The skill level of the role the employer is looking to fill has been reduced from RQF level 6 to RQF level 3 (note that this is for Skilled Worker application, the skill level remains at 6 for ICT roles)
- The individual must score 70 points but there are only 3 mandatory requirements, the other requirements can be exchanged so points can be awarded by a ‘mix n’ match’ approach. The mandatory requirements are:
- Job offer from an approved sponsor
- Speak English to the required minimum level
- Job is at the appropriate skill level
- The minimum salary requirement has been reduced and different salary brackets attract different points so can be ‘exchanged’ for other attributes
- The cap has been removed so there is no longer a distinction between ‘restricted’ and ‘unrestricted’ certificates of sponsorship
Does an individual currently sponsored under the old system need to switch to the new system?
No. Individuals currently sponsored don’t need to take any action if their current permission remains valid. Only when their visa comes up for renewal will you need to apply for an extension under the new rules.
Do EU workers now need to be sponsored?
Not yet, but they will. EU nationals can continue to provide their EU passport as evidence of their right to work until 30 June 2021, and employers cannot insist on any additional evidence. From 1 July 2021 EU nationals applying for jobs will need to provide their prospective employer with evidence of Settled Status. If they have not qualified for Settled or Pre-Settled Status then they will require sponsorship.
Can I ask EU national employees for evidence of Settled Status?
Employers can ask, but can’t insist on evidence of Settled Status, whether for existing or prospective employees. From 1 July, in respect of new employees, employers must ask for evidence of Settled Status. Based on current Home Office guidance, employers won’t be able to insist that existing employees (i.e. who joined prior to 1 July 2021 and provided their EU passport as right to work evidence) provide evidence of Settled Status.
What if I don’t have a sponsor licence?
There are limited routes for foreign nationals to work without sponsorship. It might be that there is a suitable route for the candidate in mind, and you should take advice if you would like to explore those options. However, if your business is going to be dependent long-term of attracting talent from outside the UK then it might be prudent to apply for a sponsor licence. It can be a time consuming process which will prove frustrating if you leave it until the moment you’ve found the ideal candidate, who needs sponsorship.
The Immigration Rules are spread over several online documents, frequently change and are not always the most straight-forward to follow. It isn’t uncommon for employers to find their applications rejected when trying to navigate the system alone. We can support employers with sponsor licence applications, sponsor duties, certificate of sponsorship and visa applications and queries, and right to work queries. Please get in touch if you need support.
If you need further advice on Brexit and immigration changes please call us now for a friendly chat about your needs.