Recruitment will undergo a huge change in the UK after the Brexit process has been completed at the end of 2020. Employers who have traditionally recruited from other parts of the European Union with no red-tape, will suddenly find themselves unable to get staff as easily as they have in the past. For this reason, business support organisations are urging companies to take action now to see whether they qualify under Licensed Sponsor status.


What is a Licensed Sponsor?

Licensed sponsoring is part of the points-based system which the UK will adopt for immigration starting in January 2021. Companies who wish to recruit staff directly from overseas – whether the European Union or further afield – will have to be registered with the Home Office. Once the licence has been granted, it should make it easier to bring staff into the UK for a wide range of positions. This is particularly common in the healthcare sector, with hospital trusts and clinics having to register in order to recruit staff from overseas. It applies to student visas too, with universities and colleges across the countries having to register so that students can get the correct entry visa. Many companies will be registered already if they routinely recruit from outside the EU at present. But for others, this is a whole new topic to get to grips with.


Applying for Status

Getting approval to bring staff into the UK from overseas is not automatic. Companies have to proactively apply for the status, and provide a whole host of evidence to the Home Office. There is lots of guidance about this online and relevant business support organisations can provide guidance too. As well as filling in the application form, you’ll need to send supporting documents such as your certificate of VAT registration, letter from your bank, audited accounts, or stock exchange listings information. It’s all about proving to the Home Office that you are a genuine company, operating a genuine business in the UK.


Once Approved – What Happens?

If the Home Office approves your organisation, you are awarded Tier A status. This isn’t permanent and could be downgraded at any time if you don’t supply the information needed by the Home Office. After your licence has been granted you are then free to start applying to bring staff into the UK. However, just because you’re a Licensed Sponsor, that doesn’t mean that any applications to bring staff in will be approved automatically. Each application will be considered on its merits, and if your prospective employee doesn’t meet the conditions set out by the Home Office, they won’t have their visa granted. The Home Office will look at a very wide range of factors, not just the role any particular worker will be doing. In many cases they will need a detailed criminal records check, similar to a DBS check. Their qualifications, English language skills and whether or not they offer something unavailable in a UK worker will be assessed. It’s not a quick process – but you can’t start the process at all if you’re not a Licensed Sponsor.