Recent Changes to Immigration and the Right to Work

Following the end of the Brexit transition period on 1st January 2021, changes to the Right to Work regulations will soon come into effect as part of the UK’s new immigration system. These will apply from 1st July 2021 but it’s crucial that business owners and HR professionals understand what they are beforehand.

What’s changing?

The system has been designed so that all applicants are treated equally, regardless of their country of origin. A company that wants to recruit new staff from outside the UK, with the exception of Irish citizens, will need to ensure that the applicants meet specific requirements and apply for permission first. Your organisation will also need a valid sponsor license before any positions are offered.


What’s a sponsor license?

From 1st July 2021, your business will require a sponsor license in order to hire the majority of workers from outside the UK. A sponsor license (previously called a Tier 2 sponsor license) gives British companies the ability to take on non-UK skilled workers who are either based overseas or living here in the UK. Once approved, the license is valid for four years and will then require renewal.


How does my business acquire a sponsor license?

In order to be eligible to apply for a sponsor license, your business must have a UK presence and be actively operating or trading here too. If your organisation is registered with or inspected by a statutory body relating to its sector, you will also need to send proof of registration as part of your application.

Potentially, you may have to provide proof of planning permission or consent from your local planning authority to operate your type of business at its trading address, although this won’t always be the case.


Do I need a license for each branch?

Businesses and organisations that operate multiple branches or sites within the UK can apply for a sponsor license that covers them all. However, there is also the option to apply for separate licenses if this is better suited to your unique circumstances.


How is the application judged?

As well as general eligibility, your business has to prove to the Home Office that it will offer skilled roles that are paid at the correct rate of salary. This is to ensure that all new employees taken on from overseas receive fair pay and the same quality of employment as UK nationals.


How much does a sponsor license cost?

The cost of the sponsor license depends on the size of your organisation. You qualify as a small sponsor if at least two of the following apply:

  • Annual turnover of £10.2 million or less
  • Total assets worth £5.1 million or less
  • 50 employees or fewer

If you qualify as a small sponsor, the sponsor license will cost £536 every four years. Registered charities are automatically considered to be small sponsors, regardless of the criteria above.

Organisations that don’t qualify as small sponsors are therefore classed as medium or large sponsors and required to pay a fee of £1,476.


What if I already have a Skilled Worker license?

If your organisation currently holds a Skilled Worker license (formerly called a Tier 2 General), you can instead apply for a subcategory to be added to it, which means that no fee is imposed.


Get in touch today

If you’re unsure about any of the above and require expert guidance, we’re here to help. To find out more, please call your closest branch or get in touch through our contact form.

Posted: Sat 15 May 2021
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