Businesses & Sponsors

If you are a UK employer or education provider you can legally employ skilled and temporary migrant workers, or teach students from outside the EEA (European Economic Area), through sponsorship under the five-tier points-based system.

EMPLOYERS – if you are looking to employ skilled workers from outside the EEA in either a permanent, long-term or temporary job, Tiers 2 & 5 will apply. You do not need to sponsor a highly skilled migrant worker already coming to or in the UK under Tier 1. Please note that Tier 3 of the points-based system is currently suspended so you can no longer employ low-skilled migrant workers.

TIER 2 – under Tier 2 a skilled worker can apply to enter or remain in the UK if they have a job offer here from a licensed sponsor with a valid certificate of sponsorship. They must also pass the points-based assessment. There are 4 categories of skilled worker under Tier 2 of the points-based system:

  • General skilled workers
  • Sportspeople
  • Ministers of Religion
  • Intra-company transferred staff

TIER 5 – under Tier 5 a temporary worker can apply to enter the UK for a short time if, in the majority of cases, they have a job offer from a licensed sponsor and pass the points-based assessment. There are 5 categories of temporary worker under Tier 5 of the points-based system available for sponsorship (note the youth mobility scheme is not an employment route):

  • Creative and sporting
  • Charity workers
  • Religious workers
  • Government authorised exchange
  • International agreement

SPONSORSHIP DUTIES UNDER THE POINTS-BASED SYSTEM (TIERS 2 & 5) – there are a number of responsibilities if you opt to become a UK sponsor:

  •  You must obtain a sponsor licence before you can employ skilled workers under Tiers 2 & 5
  • You must issue a certificate of sponsorship to each prospective or existing Tier 2 migrant worker so they can apply for a new visa or extension of their stay
  • You must use the sponsorship management system to fulfil your record-keeping and reporting duties so as to monitor your worker’s compliance with their immigration conditions and report any breaches eg, absenteeism

Once you have successfully applied for your licence you will be added to the published register of sponsors held by the UK Border Agency and you can issue the certificate of sponsorship to any prospective employees. This is not a physical document but a unique reference number recording details of the employee and the position they hold which will allow them to make their Tier 2 application. For further information on applying for a sponsorship licence, please visit our Sponsorship Licences & Visa Sponsorship page.

EDUCATION PROVIDERS – if you are an education provider in the UK you can sponsor a foreign student to undertake a long course of study by obtaining a sponsor licence. The student must apply under Tier 4 of the points-based system. You do not need to sponsor a student on a short course of study as they can come to the UK as a student or child visitor (if under 18). Click here for Visitors Visas.

As from February 2013 eligible UK higher education institutions can become endorsing bodies to support Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) applications, although this subject to an annual limit (2,000 applications for 2013-2014). Click here for High-Value Migrant Tier 1 Visas.

Sponsor licensing can be a complex process. Here at IAS we can assist with all applications for sponsor licensing, sponsor registration, Tier 2 and Tier 5 visas.

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