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  • 2 Sept 2020

    Keep up to date with work visa permits and requirements | Employment Law

    UK Work Visa Requirements and Your Responsibility as an Employer

    As an employer, you have various responsibilities when it comes to hiring staff. One of these is to ensure they have the right to work in the UK, or that you’re providing them with visa sponsorship for suitable jobs, if necessary. 

    To employ someone from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland, you might need a sponsor licence. There are two types of licences and the type you need will depend on whether the people you want to employ are skilled workers with long-term jobs or skilled temporary workers. If you’re looking to employ skilled workers with long-term jobs, you need a Tier 2 licence. This is split into:

    • General – the role must meet the Government’s job suitability requirements
    • Intra-Company Transfer – for multinationals that need to transfer employees to the UK
    • Minister of Religion – for people coming to work for a religious organisation
    • Sportsperson – for elite sportspeople and coaches

    If you’re looking to employ skilled workers on a temporary basis, you need a Tier 5 licence. It’s split into:

    • Creative or Sporting – to work as a sportsperson (up to one year), entertainer or artist (up to two years)
    • Charity Worker – for unpaid workers (up to one year)
    • Religious Worker – for those doing preaching, pastoral and non-pastoral work (two years)
    • Government Authorised Exchange – work experience (one year), research projects or training, for example, practical medical or scientific training (two years) to enable a short-term exchange of knowledge
    • International Agreement – where the worker is coming to do a job which is covered by international law, for examples employees of overseas governments

    Sponsorship management roles

    You will need to appoint people within your business to manage the sponsorship process when you apply for a licence. The roles are:

    • Authorising officer
    • Key contact for UK Visas and Immigration
    • Level 1 user – who will manage the day-to-day happenings of the licence

    There are various suitability checks that the nominated person(s) for the above roles will have to pass, too. Fortunately, you can allocate any of the roles to a UK-based legal professional who is qualified to give immigration advice or services.

    Your responsibilities as a licence holder

    Unsurprisingly, as an employer, you have various responsibilities to ensure you’re complying with legislation when it comes visas, immigrations and licences. Essentially, you must:

    • Ensure your foreign workers have the necessary skills, qualifications or professional accreditations to do their jobs. You must also keep copies of documents showing this
    • Only assign certificates of sponsorship to workers when the job is suitable for sponsorship. The government’s guide on this can be found here and gives information on roles that qualify
    • Inform UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) if your sponsored workers are not complying with the conditions of their visa

    Monitoring employees

    Your HR systems need to ensure you can:

    • Monitor your employees’ immigration status
    • Keep copies of relevant documents for each employee, including passport copies and right to work information
    • Track and record employee attendance at work
    • Keep employee contact details updated
    • Report to UK Visas and Immigration if there is a problem, such as if they stop coming to work

    Changes to your business

    You must also report any significant changes in your own circumstances within working days, for example if you:

    • Stop trading or become insolvent
    • Substantially change the nature of your business
    • Are involved in a merger or take-over

    Will Brexit affect the visas that EU or Swiss citizens need?

    This is something that is yet to be determined by the UK government and the EU. However, as a British employer, it is a good idea to become more familiar with the rules and regulations when it comes to employing people that aren’t from the UK. 

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