Tier 2 Skilled Workers (Work Permits)
The 27th November 2008 marked a sea-change in the UK’s approach to regulating the employment of overseas personnel. The previous work permit scheme was replaced with the less snappily entitled “Points Based System, Tier 2 – Skilled Sponsored Workers”. For ease of reference, in this guide, Points Based System will be referred to as “PBS” whilst Tier 2 – Skilled Sponsored Workers will be shortened to “Tier 2”.
Previously an employer would need to supply evidence to the United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) to demonstrate that it was a legitimate trading entity, that it had a genuine need to recruit the overseas national, and that there were no suitably qualified resident workers that could fulfil the role.
Under the new PBS scheme, an employer must now apply for a licence to sponsor overseas workers wishing to apply to enter the UK. Once it has been granted a licence, it will then need to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship to any non-resident worker national it wishes to employ in the UK. The sponsored employee must then apply for a visa to enter the UK as a sponsored skilled worker under PBS Tier 2.
The Sponsorship Licence
A sponsorship licence application is completed online. Once the application is completed and payment has been made, the employer must then submit detailed documentation to UKBA to corroborate the information detailed in the application. The type of documentation to be submitted varies with the type of employer, e.g. private limited and public companies, charities, etc. All documentation to be submitted must be either an original document or a copy certified by a solicitor.
The fee for applying for a licence is determined by the size of the organisation.
The employer must provide an Authorising Officer who will have ultimate responsibility for all sponsorship matters. This cannot be a solicitor or representative for legal reasons.
The Authorising Officer must then provide details of:
- the primary contact for any queries, etc regarding sponsorship; and
- Level 1 users, i.e. those authorised to issue Certificates of Sponsorship on the employer’s behalf.
Both of these roles can be fulfilled by a solicitor or representative.
Once the licence registration is approved, an employer will be supplied with details of how to issue Certificates of Sponsorship.
Issuing the Certificate of Sponsorship
The shift of emphasis from UKBA issuing work permits to employers issuing Certificates of Sponsorship places an executive burden on an employer, it means that they become gatekeepers of the UK’s new immigration system with significant penalties if they abuse the system, or even just get it wrong.
Employers must now keep very detailed records and can be audited by UKBA at any stage. Moreover, there are circumstances in which UKBA imposes an obligation on employers and managers to notify them of any breach of the immigration rules by an employee. Fines of up to £10,000 can be levied against the corporate body and individual complicit managers for any breach of the regulations.
All in all, the new PBS Tier 2 is a potential minefield for employers. We strongly recommend that any company seeking to obtain a licence, or to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship to a prospective employee, takes legal advice before doing so.
RLegal can assist with the following:
- employer licence registration
- ensuring the Certificate of Sponsorship has been issued correctly
- advising on Gatekeeper duties
- assisting with visa applications
- undertaking the authorised representative role.
Please contact David Robinson or Evan Remedios on +44 (0)20 7038 3980 or at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to discuss your immigration requirements.
DISCLAIMER: The information on this brief guide is correct to the best of our knowledge and belief. However, it is written as a general guide only and it is strongly recommended that specific advice is sought before action is taken.