An Easy Guide For UK Employers Recruiting Migrants In 2017

Handshake to signify recruitment

For business owners and executives, the new year brings about an opportunity for new plans.  Strategies for business growth which take into account the multitude of challenges and opportunities predicted for 2017, will be implemented in many organisations across the UK during the first quarter of the new year.

For many businesses, one of these strategies will be to obtain a Tier 2 and 5 Sponsor Licence to allow recruitment of talent from outside the EEA.

Hiring overseas talent can be a daunting prospect, especially given the tough legal requirements now demanded of employers, many of whom are feeling the pinch due to inflation and the falling value of the pound.

However, by engaging an immigration solicitor who understands the best practice for hiring talent from outside the EEA, your business will secure the resources it needs to meet its customers’ needs, allowing it to develop and flourish.

In this article, we have created a simple guide for employers looking to recruit overseas talent in 2017.

The Points-Based System

The points-based system (PBS) is used to regulate immigration to the UK from outside the EEA.  It has been in force since 2010 and currently composes of five tiers, including, Tier 1 (entrepreneur) Visa, Tier 2 (General) Visa and Tier 4 student visa

Points are awarded under the points based system for the following:

  • Qualifications (this ranges from GCSE A-Level equivalents to PHD's);
  • Future Expected Earnings (the salary that is received by the applicant);
  • Sponsorship (the type of sponsorship you are applying under);
  • English language skills;
  • Available maintenance (funds used to support yourself).

Tier 2 and 5 Sponsor Licence

If an employer based in the UK wishes to hire talent from outside the EEA, they must have a Sponsor Licence, which comes with certain obligations and responsibilities.

The penalties for not complying with the Sponsor Licence obligations set out by the Home Office can include fines, imprisonment and a 48-hour shut down of your premises.  It is therefore crucial that employers looking to recruit from outside the EEA, instruct an experienced immigration lawyer who can demonstrate the best way to manage their compliance obligations.

Sponsor Licence duties employers must comply with

The details of the sponsor duties and responsibilities are not contained in the immigration rules or any legislation, but instead in the Sponsor Guidance (SG) Tiers 2 and 5 of the PBS.

Before outlining the basic duties under the SG, it is imperative to note that the courts have taken a strict approach when it comes to interpreting compliance with the guidance.  This means even the best Immigration Solicitors sometimes have trouble establishing the employer was not culpable of a breach that occurred.

The following are some key priorities for complying with all the sponsor duties and responsibilities:

  • As an employer you must appoint someone who is sufficiently trained and has a clear understanding of the duties and responsibilities of a Sponsor Licence holder to oversee relevant processes and procedures.
    • there must be processes and procedures in place for the sponsor to keep up with changes to the SG and to report these changes to relevant people in the company
    • there must be sufficient back-up systems and personnel in place in case those with specific responsibility are away from work or there are other potential breakdowns in reporting lines
    • all personnel with responsibility for the Employment of sponsored migrants should be aware of the relevant duties and responsibilities and when they need to contact those with specific responsibility for reporting relevant matters
    • record keeping and reporting systems must be effective according to the size and scope of the business.  For example, it would inappropriate for a large multi-national to rely on spreadsheets and manual filing systems.
    • all sponsored migrants must be made aware from the outset of the responsibilities faced by the Tier 2 and 5 Sponsor Licence holder and these should be communicated in; 
  • the job or partnership offer letter and contract
  • Employment policies and staff handbooks
  • induction procedures
  • periodic follow-up reminders, e.g. by email

Last words

Many businesses, especially those depending on Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills, struggle to find people with the right knowledge in the UK.  The only way to realistically achieve business growth targets is often to hire from outside the EEA.  By being aware of your Sponsor Licence responsibilities and taking expert advice from an experienced immigration solicitor, you can be assured of making optimal decisions for your organisation, allowing you to move forward in the new year with confidence and focus.

OTS Solicitors is one of the most respected immigration law firms in London.  By making an appointment with one of our Immigration Solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available in the UK today.  Our Business Immigration solicitors, Teni Shahiean, Oshin Shahiean, Nagesh Jain and Dr Lusine Navasardyan can assist you in obtaining a Sponsor Licence and meeting the compliance requirements.

If you wish to discuss any of the points raised in this blog, please phone our London office on 0203 959 9123.


Relevant People: 

For the best expert legal advice and outcome on your UK immigration application, contact OTS Immigration Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.


We are one of the UK’s top firms for Immigration Solicitors and civil liberties lawyers. We can advise on a broad range of immigration issues including Appeals and Refusals, Judicial Reviews, spouse visas, Student Visas, Work Permit Visas, Indefinite Leave to Remain, EEA Applications, Asylum and human rights, British Citizenship, All types of visas, Business Immigration Visas, entrepreneur visas and Investor Visas.

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