Work Permits | Tier 2 Sponsored Skilled Workers

How Do I Go About Securing A Sponsored UK Work Permit?

UK Work Permits are now referred to as certificates of sponsorship. A certificate of sponsorship is a ‘virtual document’ containing a reference number, which is needed when applying for permission to enter or stay in the UK.

As a general rule for Tier 2 you will need to find a job with a UK sponsor.

For Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange Scheme you will need placement/internship a UK employer monitored by an overarching body (for instance the Law Society if doing an internship with a Law firm).

The first port of call would be to check the list of registered sponsors to find out which companies/overarching bodies are in a position to sponsor a migrant worker. This does not mean that non-registered entities could not sponsor a foreign worker – but as he registration as a sponsor process can be lengthy, it makes sense to first approach companies already registered.

The list of registered sponsors can be found on the Home Office’s website. ‘A’ rated sponsors are more likely to be able to sponsor a migrant successfully than a ‘B’ rated one, especially for those needing a ‘restricted certificate of sponsorship” (see below).   Plus a ‘B’ rate can be an indication that the sponsor has been found lacking in terms of compliance by the Home Office. They could even have their licence to sponsor revoked in the future, which would jeopardize their sponsor workers immigration status in the UK.

Having identified a number of potential sponsors, the next step would be to check recruitment sites such as the online Job Centre Plus and to find out if these companies are currently recruiting.

How Easy/Difficult Is It For A UK Employer To Sponsor Me?

 The information below only applies to those seeking sponsorship under the Tier 2 of the points based system category.

 This answer to this question will vary considerably depending on a number of factors such as:

  • The nature of the role (which in most cases should be sufficiently skilled–at least NQF level 6)
  • The salary paid
  • Whether you are already an existing employee abroad
  • Whether you are already in the UK under an immigration category which allows you to remain or switch into Tier 2..etc

The role will normally have to be advertised for 28 days in line with the Home Office’s requirements, which will vary depending on the role.  The idea is that a sponsor should have satisfied themselves that there are no resident workers able and willing to fill the role before considering sponsoring an overseas worker. This process is referred to as ‘the resident labour market test’ (RLMT).  There are a few exceptions when the RLMT is not required such as for instance for roles paid more than £152,100K or roles which are on the shortage occupation list. If the migrant worker is already in the UK doing the same job for the same sponsor, the RLMT will not be necessary either.  The RLMT is not required for migrants present in the UK under a post-study work visa or Tier 4 student visa (providing the migrant has completed their bachelor’s /master’s/ PGCE/ or PhD.

Once satisfied that there are no resident workers able and willing to take on the role or that the role is exempted from the RLMT, a sponsor’s next step will depend on a number of factors.

Registered sponsors are allocated a set number of work permits per year. These are referred to as Tier 2 unrestricted certificates of sponsorship.

As a general rule they can be used only to sponsor migrants that are already in the UK under an immigration category, which allows them to remain or switch into Tier 2, migrants that are already working for the sponsor in the UK doing the same job, and migrants based overseas who have been offered a role that comes with a salary of £152,100K or more per annum, and migrants that qualify as intra company transferees. Providing that the sponsor has not used up its annual allocation of unrestricted certificates of sponsorship, the process is very straightforward. The sponsor only needs to log onto the Sponsorship Management System (SMS) online, complete a form with the migrant details and the specifics of the role, and pay the cost of the certificate. This should not take more than 15 minutes. If the sponsor has used up it annual allocation, they can always request the Home Office for additional unrestricted certificates via the SMS. This is likely to take a few days and in certain circumstances a few weeks.

For those roles/migrant workers that do not qualify for an unrestricted certificate of sponsorship, the sponsor will have to apply for a restricted certificate of sponsorship. There is an annual limit on the number of restricted certificates. The current monthly limit is 1725 certificates.

A sponsor can apply for a restricted certificate of sponsorship only if:

  • They are an A-rated Tier 2 (General) sponsor; and
  • They want a migrant worker to do a job at NQF level 6 (or the equivalent in Scotland); and
  • They intend to assign the restricted certificate of sponsorship to the migrant worker within 3 months of the date when it is granted; and
  • They have conducted a resident labour market test, or can confirm that the job is exempt from the resident labour market test; and
  • The annual salary for the job is above £20,300 but below £152,100; and
  • The migrant will apply from overseas for a Tier 2 (General) visa, and will score at least the minimum number of points required; or
  • The migrant is already in the UK as the dependant of a Tier 4 student, and will score at least the minimum number of points required.

The application for a restricted certificate of sponsorship must be submitted online using the SMS. Only a Level 1 user of the SMS can file a request for a restricted certificate.  The application process takes approximately 5 to 10 minutes to complete. The sponsor must be able to provide full details of the job, including: – job title;- SOC code (from the codes of practice or shortage occupation list); gross annual salary; and details of the RLMT if applicable or confirmation that the job is on shortage occupation list.

Applications will be prioritized based on:

  • Whether the role is on the shortage occupation list;
  • Whether the role requires a PhD

2111- Chemical scientists
2112 – Biological scientists and biochemists
2113 – Physical scientists
2114 – Social and humanities scientists
2119 – Natural and social science professionals not elsewhere classified (for Tier 2 this includes researchers in research organisations other than universities)
2150 – Research and development managers
2311 – Higher education teaching professionals

  • The salary offered.

Providing the salary is in line with the relevant code of practice, a restricted certificate will normally be granted for a job on the shortage occupation list. The same applies for PhD roles. For other roles, the higher the salary the better the chances the restricted certificate will be granted.

All applications for a restricted certificate of sponsorship must be filed and received by the Home Office by 5th of each month to be considered on the 11th of the same month – the ‘allocation date’. For example if your sponsor applies between 6 May and 5 June, your application will be decided on 11 June.

Your sponsor will need to check the SMS regularly to find out whether the certificate has been granted.

Assuming that the restricted certificate of sponsorship is granted, the next step would be for your sponsor to log onto the SMS and access the certificate, assign it to you (i.e. enter your details such as your name, date of birth, nationality, address..etc), and pay the fees.