Immigration law and process is a maze. We can steer you through it.
Our Business Immigration team provides your organisation with a comprehensive service for all of your staff visa and work permit needs.
In partnership with specialist business immigration colleagues, we can provide you with a personal and stress-free service to allow you to hire non-EEA nationals and bring colleagues in from overseas sites. We can also help you obtain Sponsorship status.
We will keep you informed of your applications progress from start to finish and ensure that everything goes smoothly.
- Assess your circumstances and needs
- Advise you on the best business immigration options in the circumstances
- Prepare and submit your applications
- Remain in charge of the process and keep you up-to-date as it progresses
- Provide any post-application assistance you may require.
Business Immigration: key points for an employer to know
Employing individuals from the EU, EEA or Switzerland
Currently, a citizen of any EU or EEA country or of Switzerland has the right to come and work in the UK without the need for any form of work permit or visa. Once we have clarity on the outcome of Brexit and the UK’s future relationship with the EU and EEA, this position is of course likely to change.
Employing individuals from outside the EU, EEA & Switzerland
Employing a citizen of any country outside the EU, EEA and Switzerland requires the UK employer to act as a sponsor, under the UK government’s sponsorship scheme. A UK employer can apply to become a sponsor by applying to UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) for a sponsor license.
You need to give information on the license application about your business and the reasons for needing to employ workers from outside the EU, EEA and Switzerland.
You also need to demonstrate that you have complied with the Resident Labour Market Test, which (in summary) means that you tried to recruit a worker from within the EU/EEA but were unsuccessful. This attempt requires advertising and must comply with the UKVI rules.
Sponsorship for particular positions
You cannot sponsor a worker for just any position within your business. UKVI requires the role in which a sponsored worker has been employed to meet a minimum skill standard and receive a minimum annual salary.
Generally, the minimum skill level is level 6 of the National Qualifications Framework (degree level) and required minimum salary is £30,000 p.a. or whatever is listed against a position in the UKVI published list of Standard Occupational Classification Codes. The range of rates available will differ dependent on the type of work, the experience of the worker and whether they are a new entrant.
Transferring from overseas
If you have a worker employed overseas within your business or a wider group then you may be able to transfer them to your UK operations under the points-based system (in a sub category called Intra-Company Transfer). You will still need to have a sponsorship license and submit evidence to the UKVI of shared ownership between the two businesses or sites.
There are additional rules in regards to the employee’s length of service with the overseas business or site. Furthermore, the role in the UK would still need to meet the requirements of a minimum skill level and the salary paid that are referred to above.
If you wish to employ a foreign student who has been attending a UK university, you will still need to sponsor license to enable this. There are different rules to apply in these circumstances due to the fact that the student is already in the UK and is simply switching visa categories. The appointment process is usually less time consuming in these circumstances.
Once the sponsorship license has been granted the employer has continuing obligations over its foreign workers. It is important for employers to know and understand the various rules and expected behaviours required of them by UKVI and for them to have the appropriate HR systems in place to ensure compliance. UKVI are known to carry out unannounced visits, and action can be taken against an employer who is not compliant with all these duties.
Brexit and the future
Currently there is still much uncertainty about the changes that Brexit may bring in relation to business immigration and the position beyond the end of the implementation period is unknown.
It is quite possible that the current rules applying to citizens from outside the EU, EEA and Switzerland will eventually apply to anyone from within those countries too. We will update this guide when things become clearer.