Our Guidance on Tier 2 Visas for Employers
Organisations wishing to employ non-UK applicants on a Tier 2 visa must hold an up-to-date Tier 2 sponsor licence. It’s important to bear in mind that sponsorship places a series of ongoing responsibilities on the employer throughout the life of the licence which include reporting and updating the Home Office on developments.
As the main route into the UK for overseas workers, the Tier 2 sponsor process requires employers to demonstrate they’re offering genuine employment at an appropriate skill level with relevant qualifications, and at the correct rates of pay.
- Tier 2 General Visa
For skills or occupations that can’t be met by skilled settled workers or with shortages in particular occupations
- Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) Visa
For existing employees who need to be transferred by their overseas employer to a UK branch. Within this category there are two sub-divisions:
- Long-term staff: employees earmarked for transfer to the UK must have worked for their employer for at least 12 months and be paid at least £41,500 p.a.
- Graduate trainee: for graduates to a specialist role with at least three months’ experience
- Tier 2 Sportsperson Visa
For elite sportspeople and coaches at the highest level
- Tier 2 Minister of Religion Visa
For those within religious communities or orders
Fees must be paid for:
- The application of a sponsor licence
- Renewing a sponsor licence
- Extending a sponsor licence
- Individual certificates of sponsorship
Home Office handling charges for sponsors’ licence applications are £536 for small sponsors and £1,476 for large sponsors.
Our handling fees ensure applications achieve a successful outcome and are completely transparent with no hidden charges.
- Assistance with sponsor licence application: small organisations £1400
- Assistance with sponsor licence application: large organisations £1800
- Significant changes to SL details /Adding an additional category e.g. ICT £250
- Renewing a sponsor licence & 4 years of administrative support: small £1000
- Renewing a sponsor licence & 4 years of administrative support: large £1500
- Documents check and trial UKVI audit at sponsor’s office £995
- Resident Labour Market Test (advertising services and test report) £500
- Issuing a Certificate of Sponsorship only (including restricted CoS) £950
In addition to Tier 2 sponsorship fees employers may also be subject to an Immigration Skills Charge for every migrant sponsored on a Tier 2 General or Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer visa. This is to be paid if they’re applying from overseas to work in the UK for 6 months or more, or from within the UK for leave to remain. The cost varies according to company size and length of employment.
Small organisations or charities:
- £364 for 12 months of employment plus £182 for every 6-month extension
All other organisations:
- £1,000 for 12 months of employment plus £500 for every 6-month extension
A sponsor licence lasts four years from the date it is granted and will need to be renewed at the end of this timeframe.
To apply for a sponsor licence employers must:
- Complete an online application
- Pay a fee and the Immigration Skills Charge
- Show evidence of operating and trading in the UK by supplying at least four of the following documents to demonstrate eligibility to become a sponsor
- Current corporate bank account
- Employer’s liability insurance
- Proof of listing on the London Stock Exchange or Financial Conduct Authority
- Audited annual report
- Registration with HMRC
- Company tax return
- VAT registration certificate
- Meet certain criteria such as having an HR system in place, an ability to host visits by the Home Office to check compliance, and having a genuine vacancy available.
Organisations need to prove that the available position is set at an appropriate skill level with suitable rates of pay and, in many cases, their previous efforts to recruit a settled worker by conducting a resident labour market test. However, there are some roles that automatically qualify from the government’s shortage occupation list, for example physical scientists and civil engineers.
From the moment an organisation is granted a licence number, the Home Office expects certain duties to be undertaken. These include:
- Keeping up-to-date records of information on sponsored workers such as passports, status documents, biometric residence permits
- Holding documents related to recruitment practices
- Recording attendance of migrant workers and any specific changes of circumstance related to their roles
- Monitoring certain employee activities
- Fully co-operating with the Home Office which may include site visits
Due to the complexity of the process, it takes some companies much longer than anticipated to collate the relevant information required. We advise our clients to allow between 2 to 3 months for the sponsor application process.
The Home Office has the right to refuse an application if supporting evidence is lacking or information is submitted incorrectly. There’s also no right to appeal should the application fail, which can result in wasted time and money if you’re unfamiliar with the system.
Working with visa experts from UKvisas.co.uk will help to ensure your application has the best possible chance of success with tailored advice and support throughout the process.
Once organisations have been granted a licence to sponsor, it’s then possible for them to issue a certificate of sponsorship to a migrant under the Tier 2 visa system. This is done via an online management system which generates a reference number that your worker will need for their application. This reference number will remain active for 3 months after which it expires. COS must contain a start date for employment. The Home Office sets limits on the number of certificates companies can have each year.
There is a minimum salary cap for Tier 2 visa applicants of £30,000 or the appropriate rate for the job (whichever is higher). For jobs on the Standard Occupational Classification Code Appendix there is a threshold of £20,800 for new entrants to reflect newly qualified workers.
If your licence is due to expire, a renewal application must be made in order to continue to be a sponsor. This can be done from 90 days before the final date. The renewal can be processed through your sponsorship management system account and will be subject to a fee. The Home Office has the right to see your documentation again as part of this process.
Tier 2 sponsorship is available to employers to hire skilled workers outside the UK when a search within the UK has been unsuccessful or specialist skills are required. As an employer you will need to apply for a Tier 2 sponsorship licence online via a registered sponsorship management system. Once a licence is granted you can issue a certificate of sponsorship (CoS) to workers who meet the correct criteria. You will also be expected to fulfil a number of sponsor duties.
In the process of assigning a certificate of sponsorship, as a sponsor you will be asked to choose a standard occupation classification code to match the position you’re recruiting for. Codes can be found on the Gov.uk website. If a correlating title doesn’t appear, search for the job using key words to match the most appropriate job description.
Whether you’re arranging sponsorship for the first time, or need ongoing support for your recruitment requirements, the rules and regulations can seem overwhelming. As UK Visa experts, we steer thousands of companies through the licence process. We’ll support your application so you can rest assured your experience will be as stress-free as possible.
ARRANGE A CONSULTATION
CONTACT OUR OISC ADVISOR TEAM
For more than a decade we have been assisting businesses and individuals with immigration and visa enquiries, providing sound advice and successfully handling applications.
We have a highly trained and knowledgeable workforce who enjoy providing clients with the best possible outcomes.
Tel: 01403 801801