How To Hire Foreign Workers In The UK

Mihai-Alexandru Cristea 23/05/2022 | 12:03

Many UK employers are opening up their job positions to global applicants with an international background. International workers from overseas add valuable insight, knowledge, and skills to the ever-growing pool of the organization. Human resource professionals carry a huge responsibility on their shoulders, ensuring they select the correct candidates with necessary legal documentation, skills check, and more. 


These professionals also need to ensure that they recruit for business in the UK with the correct licenses. To employ foreign workers in the UK, employers need to apply for a sponsor licence and ensure they keep renewing it for validity. Failure to comply with these terms could be detrimental to the business and its employees. 

Many non-UK nationals prefer coming to the UK to further their careers and an excellent standard of living. While the UK has fantastic career growth opportunities, it is also a beautiful place to settle down and grow long-lasting roots. For this reason, many international workers prefer a temporary work visa to see if they like the area and would like to live there long term.  


Why Employ Foreign Workers?

There are several reasons why UK businesses employ overseas workers. Some of the reasons are:

  • Highly skilled jobs like technical and language requirements unavailable in the UK
  • Shortage Occupation List jobs vacancy list
  • Facilitating transfer and secondments from overseas divisions 
  • Filling all temporary vacancies with a particular skill set
  • Filling unskilled and labour shortage vacancies


Apply for Sponsor Licence

Businesses cannot simply apply for a sponsor licence. There are several categories under which this license is issued. Companies must understand which type of sponsor licence to apply for.

Some people do not need a licence sponsorship. These are:

  • Irish citizens
  • Someone with Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)
  • Settled or pre-settled status according to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS)


The type of sponsor will depend on several things like temporary hiring, long-term hiring, permanent postings, etc. Businesses will also need a separate sponsor licence for each overseas worker. 


How to Recruit from Abroad?

The first thing to do while recruiting from abroad is hire a good HR agency to take care of the selection process on your behalf. Profession HR recruiters know how to help with the process to ensure you get the best fit for the job. To recruit from abroad, there are a few steps to follow.


Meet the Eligibility Requirement for Sponsor Licence:

Employers with a past criminal record, active court and civil lawsuits, and those who have lost a sponsorship licence in the past are ineligible to gain a new sponsor licence. Suppose the business, owner, and the appointed person do not have any of these clauses and pass all the eligibility screenings. In that case, they will be eligible for a sponsor licence to hire overseas workers in the UK. 


Determine Licence Type:

There are two types of licences available in the UK for overseas workers. Based on the job role and requirement, the correct licence has to be applied for. This licence will reflect the nature of the job role. For job roles that are needed for a set or specific time limit, it is best to opt for a temporary work licence, and a permanent position should be a worker licence. 


Sponsor Management Person (SMP):

Business owners need to become or allocate a few Sponsor Management Persons (SMP) from within the company to oversee the sponsorship process. Appointed persons/ individuals will need to use the government recognized Sponsor Management System (SMS):

  • Level 1 user/ users
  • Key Person Contact
  • Authorizing Officer for Sponsorship


Receive the Sponsorship Licence:

Once the application is approved and valid, you will receive a licence rating, which must always be kept high. This licence will grant you the power to employ foreign nationals as workers in your company. You can now issue employee certificates of sponsorship. 


Ensure Employees Meet the Requirements of the Visa:

While you are finalizing the correct hire, you must ensure that the employee also meets the individual requirements for the visa. If they do not fit the criteria, they may become ineligible, even if employees have the respective sponsor licence. It is in your best interest to do a thorough check before finalizing the employee. 


Assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS):

Once you have finalized the employee, you must issue a CoS so the new employee can use the unique number on the certificate to apply for the visa online. They cannot apply for the visa till the employer does not issue a CoS.


Maintain the Licence:

Employers must maintain the licence and sponsorship obligations throughout the duration of the four-year validity. 

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