Prior to January this year, EU and EEA Nationals could move freely within the UK with rights to live and work, and the same went for UK citizens in the EU. With Brexit well underway, a wave of change has swept through the UK affecting families, workers, and businesses alike.
Last year, a poll by EY revealed that only 1 in 5 businesses claimed to understand the risks of not being prepared for Brexit. It is crucial for businesses to get accustomed to the new rules, and one of such rules relates to the employment of workers from outside the UK. From now on, you need to acquire sponsor licences when employing people from outside the UK.
You should note that your business does not need a sponsor licence to hire:
- Irish citizens
- Anyone with settled or pre-settled status under the EU settlement scheme, or
- Anyone with indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in the UK
If you already employ EU and EEA citizens, you should encourage your employees to apply for settled or pre settled status under the EU settlement scheme by June 30. From then on, employing them would also require a sponsor licence.
Before applying for your sponsor license, here are some things to consider:
- The eligibility of your business: Do you have any unspent convictions for immigration offences or financial crimes? Have you had your sponsor licence revoked in the last 12 months? You must be able to prove that your business is trustworthy and capable of carrying out its duties as a sponsor.
- The type of licence: The type of licence you apply for depends on the type of workers you are seeking to employ, and this is divided broadly into worker and temporary worker licences. Worker licences apply to long term or permanent employees such as skilled workers or intra-company transfers whereas the temporary worker licence is for more short-term employments such as seasonal workers, religious workers, charity, or creative workers.
- Deciding who will manage the sponsorship: Every organisation with a sponsor licence has a sponsorship management system, this is usually managed by an authorising officer, a key contact, a level 1 user and in some cases, a level 2 user. These roles could be filled by one person or different people. It is advisable to decide ahead of time who this person(s) will be and make sure that they are based in the UK and have no unspent criminal convictions.
- The people you intend to hire: Some factors have to be considered when deciding who you are hiring. Factors such as their proficiency in English language and if their role falls on the job shortage list. Most importantly however, you must ensure that the people you intend to hire have a right to work in the UK, it is advised that you carry out the proper right to work checks on your potential employees because employing people illegally may attract fines as high as £ 20,000 and the revocation of your sponsor licence.
- Documents to prepare: The documents required vary for different types of organisations, although the most commonly requested documents are your corporate bank statement, insurance certificate, your proof of VAT and PAYE registrations, tax returns and audited annual accounts.
Navigating the new immigration landscape may seem daunting for you or your business but there is lots of help available. Immigration advisers who are certified by the OISC are highly experienced and can help you through every step of the process. All our advisers at RS Global are OISC certified and have years of experience in matters relating to sponsor licences. If you are unsure how to proceed, contact us today and one of our experienced professionals could start the process of making you a licensed sponsor.