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How UK Employers Can Recruit From Overseas

In the third and final part of our complete guide to recruiting talent from outside the EEA, we will be looking at the details of the recruiting process. The last two articles covered how to obtain a UK Tier 2 and Tier 5 Sponsor Licence and how to meet the stringent compliance obligations to maintain an A-rating. The final step in employing an overseas worker is recruitment. We will examine the following three key stages:

  • Shortage Occupation List
  • Resident Market Labour Test
  • Offer an appropriate salary
  • Issuing a Certificate of Sponsorship

Each of these stages must be worked through, preferably with the assistance of an experienced immigration lawyer.

The Tier 2 Shortage Occupation List

Just because you have a position available in your organisation, does not mean you can hire an international employee to fill it. To help manage the number of Certificates of Sponsorship issued, the government publishes an annual Tier 2 Shortage Occupation List. This list contains the skilled positions that the country cannot fill with local resource. If a job appears on the Tier 2 Shortage Occupation List, you can automatically issue a Certificate of Sponsorship to a non-EEA worker without having to conduct a Resident Labour Market Test.

Resident Labour Market Test

If the position you wish to recruit a foreign employee for does not appear on the Tier 2 Shortage Occupation List, then you must conduct a Resident Market Labour Test to see if there is a local worker who has the skills and qualifications required to fulfil the position.

UK Visas and Immigration sets out the requirements for advertising a position in compliance with the Resident Market Labour Test. Instructing an experienced immigration solicitor to draft/check your advertisement is worth the investment. We see many cases of adverts being pulled because they do not meet the requirements laid down by UK Visas and Immigration.

The purpose of a Resident Market Labour Test is to confirm that you, as an employer, have tested the market to ensure the vacant position cannot be filled locally. It is also used to establish the position is skilled and that it meets the requirements to warrant a visa for an international recruit being issued.

Jobs that are not on the Tier 2 Shortage Occupation List must be advertised for a minimum of 28 days. If the salary is under £72,500, an advertisement must be placed with Job Centre Plus. The same advert can be used. However, there must be two advertisements live at one time, e.g. one online and one in the paper. If your company is a multi-national or has over 250 employees, you can place one of the advertisements on your organisation's external website.

The following are mandatory points which must be included on all adverts:

  • Job title
  • Location of the job
  • Indication of salary package
  • Primary duties and responsibilities
  • Requirements
  • Posting / Closing dates

It is also imperative that you can provide evidence that the job was posted for the statutory period of 28 days.

Appropriate salary

Recruiting talent from overseas requires employers to pay an appropriate salary, which is defined by the government. From April 2017, an appropriate salary is £30,000. Anyone you recruit on a Ter 2 visa must earn this amount as a minimum. Nurses, radiographers, paramedics and secondary school teachers in maths, physics, chemistry, computer science and Mandarin will be exempt until July 2019. From April 2017, all employers must also pay £1,000 per year for every non-EEA national they recruit.

Applying for and issuing a Certificate of Sponsorship

Applications for Certificates of Sponsorship (COS) are made through the Sponsorship Management System, which you will get access to on receiving your Sponsor Licence.

There are two types of COS - restricted and unrestricted.

The government only issues a certain number of restricted COS each month. You will need to apply for a restricted COS if the job you are recruiting for pays less than £159,600.

Unrestricted COS are used for in-country recruitment, for example, if you are extending the stay of an employee already working for you or the vacant position pays more than £159,600.

Applications are considered on the first working day after the 10th day of the month. This is called the 'allocation date'. If you apply after the 5th day of the month, then your application will be held until the next month's allocation date.

A COS is not a physical document, rather it is an electronic record with a reference number that your perspective employee can use when applying for their Tier 2 visa.

Final words

Although the process of obtaining and complying with a UK Sponsor Licence and applying for COS may seem long and arduous, with the right type of professional support and advice, the entire procedure is relatively straightforward.

The team at Reiss Edwards consists of some of London's leading immigration lawyers. If you require expert legal advice on obtaining a UK Tier 2 and 5 Sponsor Licence and or Certificates of Sponsorship, please call us on 020 3744 2797.

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