After the new point-based system launched after Brexit, EU and non-EU citizens will be treated equally. And employers must hold a Tier 2 sponsor licence which allows them to sponsor workers from overseas including EU.
The government is alive to this, saying that employers not currently approved by the Home Office to be a sponsor should consider doing so now if they think they will want to sponsor skilled migrants, including from the EU, from early 2021.
But as an employer how can I apply for a Tier 2 sponsor licence?
You need to fulfil certain eligibility and suitability criteria to get the licence. For example, eligibility criteria which mean you have to submit evidence to show that it is a genuine employer with a lawful trading presence in the UK. Also, suitability criteria. The suitability criteria is a much broader assessment. The Home Office will look at whether the organisation is “honest, dependable and reliable”, and capable of meeting the responsibilities that it expects from sponsors.
What documents do I need to send in?
To be fair, the Home Office has set itself a tough task. Instead of stepping back and assessing a sponsor’s credentials in the round, it expects employers of all different shapes and sizes to provide documents from a defined list to demonstrate their eligibility. Sponsors will need to accumulate at least four pieces of evidence to support their application. Four pieces of evidence doesn’t sound like much, but when this requires businesses to dig out VAT and employer’s liability insurance certificates, gathering evidence can take a surprisingly long time.
Alongside some basic information about your company, the role you want to fill and the candidate you have in mind, you must also tell the Home Office why you are applying for a licence. This usually involves providing evidence of the skill shortage you need to fill. The suitability criteria is more complex. Essentially the Home Office will want to be sure that your company and the key personnel are bona fide.
Also you need to take your sponsorship duties. In particular, you should be warned that the Home Office can visit them as part of the sponsor licence application process to check your systems are robust enough. This is the principal method by which the Home Office can assess the suitability criteria.
How soon should I apply to be ready for January 2021?
The new system due to be in place from January 2021 will see significant changes to Tier 2. Employers given a licence on the basis that they don’t need it yet, but might next year, will not be able to sponsor migrants straight away as they will not be allocated any Certificates of Sponsorship. The Home Office intends to start accepting Tier 2 visa applications under the new rules from the autumn, so such licences should be operational by then.
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