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Skilled Worker Visa: A Guide For Irish Employers In The UK

Irish companies that have branched out in the UK still need to comply with UK law when it comes to hiring overseas workers. This means that Irish companies need to be aware of how sponsor licences work and how to employ Skilled Workers in the UK.

Understanding sponsor licences and skilled worker visas can be very complex, which is why it can be very beneficial to speak to a lawyer who is an expert in immigration rules. Here at IAS, our lawyers can help you obtain your sponsor licence and hire skilled workers. Give us a call at +353 061 518 025 to get started today.

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    UK Skilled Worker Visa: What To Know As An Irish Company Expanded In The UK

    Skilled Worker visas replaced the Tier 2 General Work Visa in the UK.

    This skilled worker visa is a UK work visa, which allows applicants who are eligible to stay in the UK to do eligible jobs with employers who are approved by the government through the sponsor scheme for an eligible skilled occupation.

    Individuals who are from the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, or Iceland and started living in the UK before 1st January 2021 will not need to get a visa to work in the UK and can instead use the free EU settlement scheme.

    Additionally, Irish citizens will not need to apply for a visa or the EU settlement scheme.

    These are work visas that are now open to workers who have skills at a Level 3 RDF equivalent to A-levels.

    These visas are long-term work visas, able to be granted for periods of up to five years, although this does depend on the duration of the assigned Certificate of Sponsorship.

    Individuals should note that these visas are only valid as long as they are in the same role as their sponsoring employer.

    Should the individual wish to change roles, or should the employer wish to assign the individual to a different role, the individual will require a new UK Skilled Worker visa

    Through this route, the visa can be extended before it expires. After five years, however, the individual can apply for indefinite leave to remain and therefore gain British citizenship a year later.

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    Company Eligibility For Hiring Skilled Workers From Outside The UK

    Overview

    Employers who wish to hire Skilled Workers from outside the UK will need to apply to be sponsored employers.

    To be able to get a licence for sponsorship as an employer, the business must first be considered eligible.

    So, the employer will need to be able to provide the relevant supporting documents. These supporting documents will be there to show that the business is genuine and has a legitimate trading and/or operating presence in the UK.

    Businesses should also expect to be assessed to show that they are suitable to be sponsors. This means that businesses cannot have any of the following:

    • Any unspent criminal convictions, especially for any immigration offences or any specific crimes such as money laundering or fraud.
    • Any unpaid or recent civil penalties for employing illegal workers, or certain other specific offences.
    • A sponsor licence revocation in the previous 12 months.

    Additionally, employers need to ensure that they have the appropriate systems in place to be able to manage sponsorship and monitor sponsored employees in the business. A business will need to have a specific sponsor management team in place as well.

    Roles For Sponsorship Management

    A business needs to appoint people in the business to manage the licence and the sponsorship process.

    The primary tool that these people will use will be the SMS (Sponsorship Management System).

    The roles will be:

    • The Authorising Officer: This person is a senior and competent person, responsible for the actions of staff and the representatives using the SMS.
    • The Key Contact: This person is the main point of contact with UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration).
    • The Level 1 User: This person is responsible for all of the day-to-day management of the licence using the SMS system.

    Once the licence is obtained, it is also possible to appoint an optional level 2 user. A level 2 user is someone who uses SMS with more restricted access than a level 1 user.

    Each individual hired to manage the Sponsorship Management System will need to undergo suitability checks. Employers must carry out suitability checks to ensure that these people are suitable for these roles.

    These staff members must meet the following criteria:

    • The staff member must be in the UK the majority of the time.
    • The staff member must not be a contractor or a consultant for a specific project.
    • The staff member must not have a history of non-compliance with sponsorship requirements.
    • The staff member must not be subject to a bankruptcy restriction order or undertaking, nor can they be subject to debt relief restriction orders or undertakings.

    It is possible that the business may not obtain its sponsorship licence if anyone involved in sponsorship has any of the following:

    • Been reported to UKVI.
    • Been fined by UKVI in the past year.
    • Broken the law.
    • Has any unspent criminal convictions for an offence listed in the guidance for sponsors.
    • Has been a key person at a sponsor that has had its licence revoked in the past year.
    • Has failed to pay VAT or any other excise duties.

    The members of staff allocated for these roles typically have to be paid members of the staff, or they must be office holders.

    At a minimum, at least one level one user needs to be an employee, director, or partner in the organisation.

    It is possible to have additional level 1 or level 2 users that are employed by third-party organisations that provide the organisation with an HR service. Temporary members of staff supplied by agencies can be level 2 users.

    Immigration Skills Charge

    Employers obtaining a sponsor licence for a Skilled Workers visa should be aware they may have to pay a fee known as the Immigration Skills Charge.

    This is an additional fee that is payable by sponsoring employers when a valid Certificate of Sponsorship is used. The sponsor is required to pay this fee and cannot pass liability onto the worker.

    Employers will not have to pay the ISC if the worker will be filling a certain type of role. Workers who are applying under certain PhD occupation codes, such as research and development managers, scientists, higher education professionals, sports players, clergy members, and specific instructors or coaches

    Workers who are switching from a student visa to a Skilled Worker visa, workers seeking entry for less than six months, and workers continuing employment with a current sponsor but in need of a new Certificate of Sponsorship also do not require the employer to pay the ISC.

    Hiring skilled workers and the legalities involved can be complex.

    Maximise the chances of securing a sponsor licence and successfully hiring skilled workers to the UK with the help of our immigration team

    Call us today on +353 061 518 025  or contact us online.

    Employee Eligibility Criteria

    For an employee to be considered eligible to apply for a UK Skilled Worker visa, they need to be sponsored by an employer in the UK who holds the relevant sponsor licence.

    However, aside from this, employees also need to meet the following eligibility criteria:

    • The employee must be over the age of 18.
    • The employee needs to have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship for the job that they will be doing.
    • The job that they will be filling is a genuine vacancy.
    • The role the employee will be filling is at an appropriate level.
    • The employee will be paid a salary that exceeds or equals the typical salary threshold or ‘going rate’ for the occupation.
    • The sponsor has paid the required ISC. (If applicable.)
    • The employee can demonstrate that they have proficiency in the English language to at least CEFR Level B1.
    • The employee will be able to financially sustain themselves and any family members joining them without needing to rely on public funds, and can show proof of this.
    • The employee can provide a criminal record certificate.
    • The employee can provide a valid TB certificate. (If applicable.)
    • The employee needs to fulfil the genuineness requirement. This means that the employee needs to be able to show that they will only undertake the role as proposed and will not engage in any additional employment while they are in the United Kingdom.

    As well as meeting these eligibility criteria, the employee will also need to provide certain documentation when they apply for the visa. This documentation includes the following:

    • A Certificate of Sponsorship reference number as provided by the UK employer of the individual applying.
    • Proof that the employee knows the English language via a secure English language test.
    • A valid passport.
    • The occupation code of the job offer.
    • A document that shows the job title and annual salary offered in compliance with the minimum salary requirement, which could be an employment contract, signed by both parties, employer and employee.
    • A copy of the Certificate of Sponsorship.

    Additionally, the applicant for the Skilled Worker visa will also need to provide other documentation, including:

    • Proof that the individual meets the financial requirements to sustain themselves and any family members who may be joining them in the UK. This means the applicant needs to have a minimum of at least £1,270 in their bank.
    • Proof that the applicant has a relationship with any dependents that are joining them in the UK could include birth certificates or marriage certificates.
    • A criminal record certificate.
    • A TB (tuberculosis) test result, if this is applicable.
    • A valid ATAS certificate. This is only relevant if the applicant’s job includes researching sensitive subjects at a PhD level or higher; this is not always required, but it is wise to prepare in the event this is required.
    • A biometric residence permit, if required.

    Speak to our immigration team for assistance in understanding employment law in the UK. Contact Us

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      How To Hire Skilled Workers From Abroad

      Overview

      The first step to hiring a Skilled Worker visa applicant from overseas is to obtain a sponsor licence.

      A sponsor licence needs to be obtained from the Home Office. At first, the business applying for a licence will need to show that the vacancy or job offer they are offering is genuine and that the candidate is overseas.

      For a company to employ a skilled worker, there will be particular criteria that need to be met in the form of points scored.

      Applicants need to score 50 points on the same points-based system against specific requirements as follows:

      • A job offer that is from a sponsor approved by the Home Office = 20 points.
      • An English language ability to Level B1 (CEFR) = 10 points.
      • The job is of the appropriate skill level = 20 points.

      There are also 20 tradeable points.

      Once the business has confirmed that the job offer and the applicant meet the basic requirements for the Skilled Worker visa, the employer will need to assign a Certificate of Sponsorship.

      There are two types of Skilled Worker Certificates of Sponsorship. These are as follows:

      • Defined Certificate of Sponsorship: This CoS type is for individuals who are applying for their visa outside of the United Kingdom. A decision on this can be made in a single working day, and following this, the employee can then apply for their Skilled Worker visa from their overseas location.
      • Undefined Certificate of Sponsorship: This CoS type is for individuals who are applying for it from inside the United Kingdom, or it applies to CoS assigned to workers. Sponsors will likely have an annual allocation of undefined Certificates of sponsorship which can be assigned whenever they need to hire a candidate.

      Assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship has a cost of £199 for the employer.

      Call us today on +353 061 518 025  or contact us online, to get professional assistance with CoS, skilled workers, and sponsor licences.

      Salaries

      The UK government recently announced an increase in the minimum income requirements to £38,700. This comes into effect in Spring 2024.  Get in touch with us now for up-to-date information on how this could impact you.

      Alternatively, the worker could be paid the ‘going rate of the labour market’ or general salary threshold for the work they will be doing.

      There are six options for the minimum salary requirements and salaries, depending on the eligible occupations:

      Salary Only: Option A: The applicant’s salary will exceed or equal either the going rate of salary requirements for their Standard Occupation Classification

      Relevant PhD: Option B: The applicant has a PhD in a subject relevant to their job and their salary equals or exceeds 90% of the going rate for their Standard Occupation Classification

      Relevant STEM PhD: Option C: The applicant has a PhD in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (STEM subject) relevant to their job, and their salary exceeds or equals 80% of their Standard Occupation Classification going rate.

      Shortage Occupations List Jobs: Option D: If the job the employee will be doing is on the UK shortage occupation list, their annual salary should exceed or equal 80% of the typical going rate for the job. Jobs on the shortage occupation list may also be able to pay a lower fee for their visa.

      New Entrant: Option E: If the applicant is a new entrant to the labour market, their minimum salary should exceed or equal 70% of the going rate of their Standard Occupation Classification.

      Listed Health/Educational Occupation: Option F: The job the applicant is filing is a listed education occupation or health occupation, and their salary should equal or exceed the going rate for their Standard Occupation Code.

      After The Assigning Of A Certificate Of Sponsorship

      Once the employer has assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship that is valid for the skilled worker route and has paid the Immigration Skills Charge,

      if necessary, the employee is then able to use this Certificate of Sponsorship to complete the Skilled- Worker visa application and obtain entry to the UK at a visa application centre in their country.

      The employee needs to make their application within three months of the date that the Certificate of Sponsorship was assigned and will need to pay the necessary application fee.

      Once the employee is in the UK and is working for the employer, the employer must then manage the employee and ensure the Home Office stays updated on information regarding this employee visa in the Sponsorship Management System (SMS).

      The average time that it takes for a decision on a Skilled Worker visa application is three weeks; however, the Home Office may need extra time to review the documents and verify identity.

      It is wise that employees and employers allow extra time before the work start date for the work visa submission to be made in the event of any delays.

      Employees can seek UK citizenship or permanent residency after being in the UK for five years.

      Avoid breaching immigration laws. Our team can help you with the legal process of hiring skilled workers to the UK. Contact Us

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        Overview

        Employers should comply with certain requirements as licensed sponsors from the day that their sponsorship starts and ends when it is terminated, made inactive, or relinquished.

        The sponsor licence holder will need to take measures to prepare for the application to be a sponsor licence holder since eligibility requirements demand that organisations can evidence particular aspects of compliance with immigration law.

        The responsibility that the sponsor licence holder has for each employee will start as soon as a valid Certificate of Sponsorship is issued; similarly, it will end when one of the following instances occurs:

        • The worker’s clearance to enter the country expires or is rendered invalid.
        • Upon the denial of the worker’s request for entry, or authorization, and following the conclusion of any appeal or administrative review.
        • Once the worker is permitted to enter or is permitted to work for a different sponsor,
        • The worker is permitted to carry on working on a route without continued sponsorship.
        • The employer notifies the Home Office that they are no longer sponsoring the worker.

        Duties As A Licence Holder

        Sponsors of Skilled Worker visa holders are obligated to comply with the following sponsor duties:

        • Ensuring that foreign workers that are being sponsored have the requisite experience, skills, or qualifications to do the job they are being recruited for. The employer should also keep records and copies of documents that prove this.
        • Grant CoS to migrant workers only for jobs that the employer qualifies for sponsorship.
        • Monitor sponsored workers and notify the Home Office should they breach any sponsorship or visa conditions.

        Duties can be broken down into these simple categories:

        • Reporting: Report and submit specific information to the Home Office using the SMS in specific time frames.
        • Record-keeping: Keeping records on each worker supported.
        • Compliance with immigration rules: Respect all requirements of Temporary Worker and Worker Sponsor Guidance as well as UK Immigration Law.
        • UK Law Compliance: Sponsor licence holders need to abide by UK law in general as well as immigration law.

        Employers should always be prepared for compliance visits from the Home Office when they are carrying out their duties in compliance with the law. The Home office does have the power to conduct unannounced or announced site inspections of sponsor licence holders.

        This can occur before making a decision on a licence application and during the validity period of the licence. This can happen randomly or in the case of suspicion.

        Should the Home Office attend your premises for inspection, you need to work with the officers and grant access locations to their representatives.

        It is also up to the businesses to provide personnel documentation and HR records. The accuracy and completeness of the information supplied on the sponsor licence application will also be checked by the Home Office.

        Documents and files that are listed in Appendix D of the sponsor guidance need to be available for the Home Office.

        IAS Can Help Your Business

        Becoming a sponsor for migrant employees in an Irish business in the UK is very complicated, but the UK Skilled Worker visa route is a popular route for employers to hire migrant employees. Employers need to ensure that they meet sponsorship eligibility and skilled worker visa requirements and that their employees will be paid the minimum salary requirements.

        It is very complex, and this is why it can be beneficial for employers to seek out expert immigration lawyers to aid in the application process for sponsorship and hiring through the UK Skilled-Worker visa route.

        At IAS, we have a team of expert immigration lawyers who are well-versed in Sponsorship Licences and this visa route. Contact us today for help getting started with hiring applicants and getting your licence.

        Call us at +353 061 518 025, or send us a message today

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