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Carolyn Bowie, Solicitor highlights what you need to know if you are applying for a sponsor licence.

As discussed in our earlier update, from 1 January 2021, employers who want to recruit workers from outside the UK’s resident labour market will need to be Home Office licensed sponsors. This will enable recruitment of workers from anywhere in the world. If you do not already have a licence, but anticipate a need to recruit EU/non-EU migrant workers you should apply for a sponsor licence now.

To assist with this process, the Home Office has recently published some helpful guidance for those new to the process: The UK's points-based immigration system - An introduction for employers.

This publication gives an outline of the new system, explaining many of the basic themes such as who the rules apply to and whether a job meets the required skill level, as well as giving a summary of the requirements, points, various visa routes and costs. There is also a section that gives an indication of what is required to become a Home Office licensed sponsor.

A further guide has been published to provide a one-page overview for those employers considering becoming registered: Employers guide to becoming a licensed sponsor of skilled migrant workers.

This is a helpful first-stage tool to help you assess whether you would meet strict Home Office requirements. However, employers must also refer to the full policy guidance on sponsoring a migrant worker on the Home Office website.

Additional information for employers who wish to apply for a licence to sponsor migrant workers under the new points-based immigration system has been published in Annex 9 of the updated Tier 2 and 5 Guidance for Sponsors. This gives more information, which will be updated as the new system develops.

We will keep you informed of updates as they arise; for example confirmation is expected of when employers may assign a Certificate of Sponsorship and when migrant workers may apply under the new system.

Despite these handy guides, this is a complex area and getting it wrong can be costly for your business. For assistance, please also see our more comprehensive practical guide to preparing for the changes, which answers some frequently asked questions.

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If you need advice, please contact our experienced business immigration solicitors. We are here to help you.

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