For many businesses, the single biggest problems facing them is getting highly qualified staff to work in their business. For lots of companies this isn't an issue, but for those in specialist niches, they may need very specific skill sets that may not be available to them locally. If this is a problem that you are facing, then you are probably wondering what the solution is. Well, one solution is gaining the ability to employ staff from outside of the EEA. The only way to do this at the moment is with a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence.
The Tier 2 Sponsor Licence enables you to assign Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) that allow would-be employees to apply for a Tier 2 General Visa. In this article, we are going to look at the benefits of gaining a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence, and also look at the cost considerations that you need to bear in mind if you are looking to gain this flexibility to employ staff from outside of the EEA.
The main benefit of gaining a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence is the ability to take on employees from outside of the EEA. This gives you a huge potential pool of applicants to choose from for your business, and can help you to hire the exact staff member that you need to fill the role. For many companies, there simply isn't the requisite talent available locally to fit the specific needs of the business. Gaining the ability to take on staff from across the globe can help your business gain a competitive edge in your industry.
Of course all of this flexibility comes at a price, and you will need to ensure that you have tried to hire locally first before reaching out across the globe. For many businesses this is relatively straightforward, as for these businesses, there is a requisite skill set required for the role that makes the need to hire across borders a necessity. There is of course cost implications involved in becoming a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence holder and these are laid out in the next section.
Currently there are two levels of fee for the Tier 2 Sponsor Licence Holder application. These will rely on whether your business is classified as either a small/charitable business, or if you qualify as a medium/large enterprise. Small businesses are defined as having an annual turnover over of less than £10.2 million or having fewer than 50 staff - medium/large encompasses every other business. The fees are laid out as follows and only account for the application fee itself:
Small or charitable sponsor - £536
Medium or large sponsor - £1,476
The application fee covers your licence fee for four years. To start with, you will be given an A-rating licence (which is a full sponsor licence - allows you to start assigning Certificates of Sponsorship). This rating is only applicable if you stick to the rules as laid out in the guidance, failure to carry out your duties correctly could end up with you being downgraded to a so-called B-rating which will affect your ability to issue new Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) for staff, and could lead to potentially stiffer penalties depending on the seriousness of the offence.
If you are downgraded to a B-rating on your Tier 2 Sponsor Licence in the future, please note that you will be expected to pay a fee if you wish to upgrade again. This will only be able to happen once you have followed the action plan that is laid out to get you back on the right track.
There is also an additional charge per visa holder that you bring into the UK, this is known as the Immigration Skills Charge - this applies to all Tier 2 General Visa holders that are staying in the UK for over 6 months. You will need to pay this fee yourself upon assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to the intended worker. The Immigration Skills Charge for these workers is as follows:
First 12 months - £364
Each additional 6 months - £182
First 12 months - £1,000
Each additional 6 months - £500
Your responsibilities as a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence holder are to check that your foreign workers have the necessary skills and/or qualifications to do their intended jobs (you will need to retain proof). You also need to ensure that you only provide Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) to workers where the job itself is suitable for sponsorship, and you must tell UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)i if your workers are not complying with their visa conditions. Failure to follow any of these could result in your licence rating being downgraded or your Tier 2 Sponsor Licence being suspended or even withdrawn.
As part of the requirements for the Tier 2 Sponsor Licence, you will need to keep an ongoing monitor of your visa holding employees. You will need to have a suitable HR system in place that lets you consistently monitor their immigration status, keeps copies of the relevant documents, keeps a record of their attendance and keeps their details up-to-date. You also need to report to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) if there are any problems such as your employee not coming into work (absent without leave). As you can see, it can be difficult to maintain the conditions of this license, therefore it is vital that you have all of the correct advice and support that you need. If you need help with any facet of the Tier 2 Sponsor Licence, please get in touch and our team will be happy to help.
If you need more help or advice with the application process or indeed any other part of the Tier 2 Sponsor Licence then please get in touch. Our team have significant experience in helping businesses with the implementation of the systems and the ongoing management of their Tier 2 Sponsor Licence. So if you have any questions, please get in touch today and our experienced immigration specialists will be more than happy to help you.