Currently, UK employers are only required to hold a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence if they are seeking to employ workers from outside the EEA and Switzerland who require Tier 2 General or Intra-company Transfer Visas. However, there may be an increased need for UK companies to apply for a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence after Brexit to employ foreign workers.
On 18 September 2018, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), a non-departmental public body that advises the UK government on migration issues, published a report for the development of the new migration system after Brexit. Read this MAC report here https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/741926/Final_EEA_report.PDF
Crucially, the report upholds the termination of free movement of workers from the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. Further, it proposes that work related visa applications of EEA and non-EEA citizens should be treated under the same rules and migrants should be assessed in relation to their skills, employment, age and use of public services.
If Free Movement is to be abolished, this may mean workers from EEA and Switzerland may need to secure Tier 2 Employers in order to apply for the relevant Tier 2 Work Visas. Therefore post Brexit, many UK employers may also need to secure Tier 2 Sponsor Licences to employ all foreign workers, including those from inside and outside of the EEA and Switzerland.
Migration Advisory Committee Report
The MAC report suggested some changes if Tier 2 (General) is to be extended to citizens from the EEA and Switzerland:
- Firstly, it proposes the removal of the cap on Tier 2 (General) and the addition of medium-skilled jobs under Tier 2 (General) which presently covers only highly-skilled jobs above RQF Level 6. QC Immigration has previously discussed with ITV News about the restrictive visa cap on UK employment here:
- This would be a welcome change enabling the recruitment of more diverse workers and from various skill levels such as RQF Level 4, respectively. However, the MAC report also recommends that the salary threshold of £30,000 for sponsorship should be maintained without regional variations. As such, the demanding salary threshold will impede the recruitment of more workers from different skill levels.
- Secondly, the report advises that Immigration Skills Charge should be expanded to cover EEA citizens and be reviewed.
- Thirdly, the current minimum salary threshold of £30,000 for Tier 2 Sponsorship should be retained.
- Fourthly, the operation of the current Tier 2 Sponsor Licence system for small and medium-sized businesses should be reviewed.
- Lastly, the report favours the abolishment of the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) which obliges employers to prove that no settled worker currently residing in the UK can fill the position in question.
Indisputably, the extension of the Tier 2 Sponsorship to EEA and Swiss migrants would create some serious challenges for both employers and employees. Currently, approximately only 30,000 organisations in the UK hold a sponsor licence; 95% of small businesses that employ European nationals do not possess Tier 2 Sponsor Licence. See here the Tier 2 and 5 Register of Sponsors for more information.
If businesses employing EEA nationals will be required to hold Tier 2 status post-Brexit, the process of obtaining a Sponsorship Licence can be bureaucratic, time-consuming and costly.
Nevertheless in our experience with Tier 2 Sponsor clients, employers often feel the application process is worthwhile in order to hire the best and brightest talent.
QC immigration has Corporate Immigration Specialists who can help with your recruitment and compliance needs. Contact us to discuss your company’s needs further.