We asked our LinkedIn followers whether they thought Visa Sponsorship was an essential element of a job description, and a crushing majority thought that it was. So we thought we’d dive deeper into what exactly Visa Sponsorship is and what the benefits are in providing it, as well as some useful resources for UK-based employers and people searching to relocate to the UK.
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As a result of Brexit, from January 2021, UK employers are no longer allowed to employ new entrants from EEA and Switzerland outside the sponsorship system (unless they are already in the country on other visas). The Register of Licenced Sponsors has seen a boom in their numbers with over 40,000 companies now registered to sponsor Tier 2 applicants (the visa you need to work in the UK) – that’s almost a 20,000 increase in just one year.
Regulations have also become a little more relaxed to make it easier to sponsor foreign workers, now that EU candidates need to be sponsored. For example, there is no longer a limitation on the number of employees that can be brought from outside the UK each year.
What are the benefits of visa sponsorship for employees?
To be able to sponsor a candidate, companies need to process an application for sponsorship to the Home Office. What that means as a candidate is that you can be sure that the company has been evaluated by HMRC and that everything is in order, and you know you will be welcomed well into your new position.
The general Tier 2 visa allows you to stay in the UK up to 14 days before your start date, which gives you enough time to find your bearings in your new city and settle down properly before starting work. With this visa, you can also bring family members with you so you won’t find yourself all alone in a new country, and you don’t have to leave your loved ones behind.
Other benefits include the possibility to do volunteer work (which means you can join Movemeon’s Pro Bono pool!) and study for your professional development in the UK, at world-leading institutions.
Why would employers want to offer visa sponsorship?
As an employer, offering visa sponsorship is a great way to attract a great number of skilled workers who will display experience and expertise that a settled worker might not necessarily have. At the moment, significant skills gaps in the UK market include industries such as tech, finance, hospitality, healthcare, and STEM disciplines.
Because of the benefits to employees listed above, offering visa sponsorship is also a great way to ensure employee satisfaction as the Tier 2 visa covers personal points that are essential to settle happily in a new country.
What is the process to offer visa sponsorship?
There are many benefits to sponsoring foreign workers, but of course, there is a reason why not every company does it: it’s a long and heavy process, and most importantly it’s quite unclear. Of course, if you need someone within the next month, it might not be the most relevant option to you (or it will cost you more), but it might really be worth it if you’re looking for a very skilled employee to help your company grow.
A quick overview of the process
Below we wrote some points to outline the process as clearly as possible so that you know what to expect as an employer, and understand whether this is something your team has the capacity to deal with:
- The Home Office will need to assess your business by looking at the premises, registrations required (like your VAT registration), whether your business is financially viable, etc. This is in order to establish your business as genuine.
- If you are a new company, you will need to provide your business plan instead.
- The Home Office will then need to assess the genuineness of the vacancy you want to sponsor (that can include the business needs, the workload of current employees, whether the organisation can afford to pay a new employee, etc.)
- The fees you will need to pay for sponsorship depend on the size and nature of your business – for instance a charity will pay a lesser fee than a large corporate.
- The fees also depend on the type of contract you are offering – temporary workers will bring a lesser fee than a full-time employee in medium and large businesses.
- Small companies have lesser fees than larger organisations.
- There is also an additional fee if you want the application to be prioritised – it would then be 10 working days to be considered, instead of the usual 8-12 weeks.
- You will also need to have someone on your team who will be able to deal fully with the sponsorship and any communication with the Home Office. This is important to know if you don’t have an HR department, as it will considerably add to the workload of the person in charge.
Find out more on the Government website.
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