Amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, the Home Office found time today to remind businesses that the UK’s new immigration Points-Based system will launch as planned from 1st January 2021 – see announcement here. The same document also reiterated the Government’s stance that there will not be a separate immigration route for low skilled works – namely those who are unable to meet the salary or skills threshold under the skilled worker route. Clearly, the Home Office haven’t seen the huge importance of “low skilled workers” and the tremendous efforts being made by this particular group especially during this pandemic.
Nevertheless, the Home Office have again urged businesses to apply for a Sponsor Licence now – “employers not currently approved by the Home Office to be a sponsor should consider applying now if they think they will want to sponsor skilled migrants, including from the EU, from early 2021.” This same message was reiterated in the Home Office’s latest version of the Tier 2 and 5 guidance document at Annex 9. The message is therefore simple, if a business foresees the need to hire a non-EEA national or EU national (who doesn’t already have permission to be in the UK) they will need a Sponsor Licence in place in order to sponsor that individual under the skilled worker route.
Annex 9 advises that when applying for a sponsor licence, businesses will need to show that they are able to offer genuine employment at Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) level 3 (is equivalent to A-level educated roles) – at present the current skills threshold is RQF level 6 (equivalent to degree level roles). In addition, an organisation will need to satisfy the UK Visas and Immigration that they meet the eligibility and suitability criteria to become a Sponsor – for further details on how to meet the eligibility and suitability criteria, please speak with our team.
Processing times for Sponsor Licence applications is generally between 6-8 weeks, however, it is anticipated the same service standard is likely to increase throughout the year as the relevant Home Office departments struggle with resources in light of the current Coronavirus pandemic and an increase in applications given the number of businesses that will need to apply for a Sponsor Licence before the end of the year.
If your organisation needs assistance with applying for a Sponsor Licence or would like to speak with our Immigration team regarding any immigration related matters, please contact our head of Business Immigration, Sundeep Rathod.