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Employing Foreign Workers in the UK

We can help UK employers get a Sponsor Licence to hire foreign workers.

Call us on 0333 305 9375 for immediate help & assistance with your situation. We’re here to help you in person, via the phone or online.

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    Employing Foreign Workers in the UK: What you should know

    If you are a UK employer and you are looking to employ a foreign worker, you will need to meet different requirements depending on their nationality, skill-set, as well as the contract length.

    If you are employing someone on a Skilled Worker Visa or a Temporary Worker Visa, you must hold a Sponsorship Licence. You must also be registered to sponsor employees to transfer a worker to the UK from an overseas office. If you are hiring a non-EEA foreign worker who is in the UK with a Global Talent Visa, you will not be required to hold a Sponsorship Licence. It is important to bear in mind when hiring foreign workers that the Tier 3 Visa has been suspended. As a result, you can no longer hire unskilled migrant workers in the UK. 

    For those intending to hire religious workers or sportspeople, a Sponsor Licence will be necessary to sponsor their applications for entry clearance.

    Our lawyers offer high-quality advice on the process of employing foreign workers. We can assist with applications for Sponsorship Licences and ensure that your company’s HR methods are functioning properly. We can also help you appeal if you have received a Civil Penalty or had your Sponsor Licence revoked.

    Get in touch with us now on 0333 363 8577 or use our online contact form for answers to all your questions about hiring foreign workers. We have offices based in LondonManchester, and Birmingham, as well as in many other locations throughout the UK. We look forward to helping you with your immigration case.

    Hiring foreign workers

    Hiring Foreign Workers Post-Brexit

    EU citizens who lived in the UK before December 31, 2020, had to apply for the EU settlement scheme by June 30, 2021.

    Having EU settled status allows EU workers and their families to live and work in the UK without needing a UK visa. Employers don’t need special permission or a license to hire people with valid EU settled status.

    Eligibility Requirements For The Sponsor Licence

    Before embarking on the process of applying for a license, it is essential to thoroughly grasp the Home Office criteria that must be met. In essence, your organisation must demonstrate the following:


    • Operates as a legitimate and law-abiding company within the UK.
    • Maintains a physical presence in the UK.
    • Does not pose a threat to immigration control, including avoiding illegal worker employment, having no pending convictions for immigration violations, money laundering, fraud, or similar offenses.
    • Has not experienced a sponsor license revocation within the past year.
    • Employs reliable personnel responsible for overseeing the employment sponsorship process.
    • Adheres to the expected compliance standards for sponsoring employers.

    Compliance Duties:

    • Maintains an HR system capable of accurately recording sponsored employee information.
    • Implements procedures to ensure that only suitable and qualified foreign workers receive a Certificate of Sponsorship.
    • Reports significant changes in circumstances to UKVI promptly, such as when a sponsored worker does not commence work as scheduled or departs from your employment.

    The UK Skilled Worker Visa

    The UK Skilled Worker Visa is a type of visa designed for foreign nationals who have a job offer from a UK employer in a skilled occupation. This visa category replaced the Tier 2 (General) Visa and is part of the UK’s points-based immigration system.

    To qualify for a Skilled Worker Visa, applicants typically need to meet specific criteria, including having a job offer from a licensed UK employer, meeting the required English language proficiency level, and securing enough points based on their job offer, salary, and other factors.

    The Skilled Worker Visa allows individuals to live and work in the UK and can potentially lead to settlement (Indefinite Leave to Remain) and even British citizenship, depending on the circumstances.

    Alternative Visas To The UK Skilled Worker Visa

    Here are some alternatives to the UK skilled worker visa:

    • The graduate visa
    • The high potential individual visa
    • The health and care worker visa
    • The scale-up visa
    • The global business mobility visas
    • The temporary worker visas

    Immigration Compliance

    All employers in the United Kingdom must adhere to the illegal working prevention system, which mandates the verification of an individual’s eligibility to work in the UK. This obligation remains in force whether you are recruiting from international sources or exclusively employing individuals from the domestic labour pool.

    Engaging an individual in unauthorised employment carries both civil and criminal repercussions. Should you employ someone with reasonable grounds to suspect their illegal status, you would be in violation of a criminal offense. Conviction could result in an unrestricted fine and a potential prison sentence of up to two years.

    How Can IAS Help You Hire Foreign Workers

    Work visa applications can be intricate, and it is strongly advised to enlist the services of an immigration expert. You must ensure compliance with all mandatory criteria, diligently complete the requisite forms, and assemble the necessary supporting documentation.

    Our team of dedicated immigration consultants can assist you comprehensively throughout your Partner Visa application process in the United Kingdom. Our services encompass:

    • liaising with you in person, via phone or Skype at a time that suits you;
    • assessing your eligibility;
    • checking your documents to ensure that they are sufficient for your visa application;
    • preparing a Letter of Representation to accompany your application;
    • liaising with the Home Office until your case is resolved;
    • completing each part of your application form to the highest standard.

    IAS has an excellent track record with successful cases, and our lawyers are highly experienced in this field. To apply for a UK work visa, get in touch with IAS online or on 0333 363 8577 today for professional, no-obligation advice or assistance.

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              Related pages for your continued reading.

              Frequently Asked Questions

              If you are a UK business looking to employ foreign workers from outside the EEA or Switzerland there are requirements that you will need to meet before you can hire foreign workers legally. You and your business must:

              • not have any criminal convictions such as immigration offences, fraud or money laundering;
              • not have a history of failing to carry out sponsorship duties; and
              • have a system in place that monitors sponsored employees.

              The Home Office will review your application and they may want to visit your business before your Sponsor Licence is granted. There are also a number of supporting documents that you will need to provide prior to being approved by the UKVI.

              These are important requirements to follow to ensure you do not hire any workers illegally.

              Once you have successfully applied for your licence you will be added to the published Register of Sponsors held by the Home Office 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.

              You will have a number of sponsorship duties as an employer of foreign workers in the UK.

              You must obtain a Sponsor Licence before you can employ skilled & temporary workers.

              You must issue a Certificate of Sponsorship to each prospective or existing skilled 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 to monitor your worker’s compliance with their immigration conditions and report any breaches e.g., absenteeism.

              Failure to fulfil these responsibilities may result in your Sponsor Licence being suspended or revoked.

              We have a range of immigration consultancy services which can help you understand your duties and options as an employer of foreign workers.

              Our services include:

              • taking detailed instructions from you to determine your next steps;
              • providing you with tailored advice on the various options open to you;
              • collating the required documentation required to support your application;
              • professionally completing all the required application forms;
              • producing a Letter of Representation to accompany your application. This encapsulates information about your case and its merits as well as references to relevant UK immigration laws in support of your application;
              • assisting you with the RLMT if required and identify the correct SOC code and salary;
              • ensuring all recruitment processes are followed.