How hard can it be …

Have you thought about sponsoring Visa’s?

With all the talk about key skills shortages, especially at the mid-level, we felt it might be time to consider asking why employers are not taking up the option of sponsoring Visa’s.

With that in mind we’ve decided to share some information offered to us from one of our Women’s Tech Hub members, Nicole Neo, who, as a foreign national on a visa knows far more than we do on the subject!

Nicole also pointed out an advert that included the following phrase in their title headline.

“Sponsorship and Relocation Packages Available”

To us their phrasing said so much more than was immediately obvious:

  • They made the job stand out from all others.
  • They gave us the impression that the company is broad minded, forward thinking and inclusive.
  • That made us believe that they are supportive of their employees.

All this in one short phrase!

What do I need to know to support Visa candidates?

If you are a Tech company wishing to hire or transfer skilled migrants then Tier 2 sponsor licensing and Tier 2 visas are what you need to understand.

The purpose of the visa is to sponsor foreign nationals into skilled jobs that you have been unable to fill from the resident workforce.  For this you will need to obtain a sponsor license, which stay valid for a period of 4 years.

You should also check out the codes of practice for more details.

Tier 2 (General) is the category for regular work visas.

  • Most roles under Tier 2 (General) require advertising in the Resident Labour Market as explained in the resident labour market test.
  • Tech roles on the shortage occupation list and which meet certain criteria are exempt from this requirement so sponsors can fill vacant positions quickly.
  • Tier 2 visa’s categorise candidates as either a “New entrant” or an “Experienced worker”
    • New entrants are required to be under 26 years of age
    • Experienced workers are required to have surpassed their 26th birthday during the job start date (so should have reached the median UK salary)
  • The roles you offer must pay a minimum of  £20900 for new entrants or minimum of £30000 for experienced workers for details  see section 83 in the  T ier 2 of the Points B ased System – Policy Guidance.

Relocation of a high value business to the UK

Tier 2 sponsors are also exempt from advertising a role where a foreign worker is posted from an overseas firm to the UK in connection with the relocation of a high value business to the UK or a significant new inward investment project, where:

  • Your company is an existing business registered in the UK within the last three years;
  • Your company is the registered branch or wholly owned subsidiary of a business which has its headquarters and principal place of business outside the UK
  • You are relocating or providing inward investment which involves new capital expenditure of £27 million or the creation of at least 21 new UK jobs

Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer)

This is for an existing employee of a multinational employer who needs to be transferred by the overseas employer to a UK subsidiary or branch for one of the following reasons:

  • For training purposes
  • To fill a specific vacancy that cannot be filled by a settled or EEA worker either on a long-term basis or for frequent short visits.

Candidate advice

Graduate roles

  • The rules for switching from Tier 4 student to Tier 2 (General) are more lax as they are not subject to Certificate of Sponsorships (CoS) quotas or the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT).
  • If your Tier 4 student visa is no longer valid at the time you apply for a Tier 2 (General) visa, your employer’s request for a CoS would be subject to the monthly quota for applicants outside the UK and the RLMT being carried out.

Start looking for graduate jobs early!!

Non-graduate Roles

  • Check UK Tier 2 (General) Visa Eligibility for the latest rules and salary thresholds.
  • Check that the company sponsors Tier 2 visas. This handy site UK Tier Sponsor Register scrapes the data from Tiers 2 and 5 register of sponsors daily and renders them in a searchable list.
  • Companies who are visa sponsors might not offer visa sponsorship for a role because they have more than enough UK/EU applicants e.g. popular graduate schemes.
  • There’s no harm asking whether a company would consider becoming a visa sponsor to sponsor you if they couldn’t otherwise fill a role. The additional cost of around £2k are negligible compared to holding the role vacant for longer.
  • Try to find out the company name and apply to them directly as internal/external recruiters don’t have the influence to convince the employer to sponsor visas.
  • If the employers like you as a candidate, they will be more inclined to want to sponsor you.  Nicole had several start-ups and small businesses become a visa sponsor, or even offered to; as they were impressed by her.
  • Success is much more likely with smaller companies as the technical person the candidate will be reporting to, will have more influence.
  • Unfortunately, the NHS health surcharge for the remaining years of your old visa will not be refunded.
  • More employers are willing to sponsor visas for mid-level roles as there is a much smaller pool of applicants.
  • To look at the Points calculation Immigration Work Permit Site

It’s advisable NOT to quit your job before getting the new visa approved.

N.B. This is not legal advice. Consult an immigration lawyer for more information. Employers who are current/prospective visa sponsors can use the sponsorship hotline for queries sponsor license.

*Current is relating to the date of this blogpost