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Tier 2 General Sponsorship: Suitability Criteria Explained

If you are a UK employer looking to recruit a skilled worker from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland to fill a job that cannot be filled by a suitably qualified or skilled settled worker, you will need to understand all about Tier 2 General Sponsorship.

Employing a Tier 2 visa worker requires a company to hold a valid sponsorship licence, and for the role and candidate to meet certain eligibility requirements.

The following guide looks at the suitability of the types of job and applicant, and level of salary, under the Tier 2 General route

What is Tier 2 General sponsorship?

Tier 2 General sponsorship refers to the authorisation given to a UK licensed sponsor to recruit a skilled non-EEA migrant worker to fill a job that cannot be filled by a suitably qualified or skilled settled worker.

This includes workers coming to the UK to fill shortage occupations, ie; where there are not enough skilled workers in the domestic labour market to meet current demand.

However, to be eligible to apply to come to the UK to undertake work, a Tier 2 General migrant worker must have a suitably licensed sponsor in place. They will also need to be assigned a valid certificate of sponsorship (CoS) by their UK sponsor, and have the offer of a suitable job.

What are the Tier 2 General sponsorship skill requirements?

When recruiting a non-EEA migrant worker, save except where the job appears on the shortage occupation list under Appendix K of the Immigration Rules, in most other cases the offer of a job must satisfy the requisite skill requirements as set out under Table 2 of Appendix J.

Appendix J sets out the codes of practice for skilled work for UK sponsors using what’s known as the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC). SOC codes are used by the government to classify jobs according to their titles and activities.

When assigning a certificate of sponsorship, the employer must choose the most relevant SOC code for the job that the sponsored employee will fill, thereby confirming that the role meets the required skill level.

If the migrant worker is applying for a Tier 2 General visa, the job will usually need to be Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) level 6 or above, although there are separate skill levels, and rates of pay, for various creative sector occupations. By way of example, for actors, entertainers, presenters, artists, authors, dancers, choreographers, as well as product and clothing designers, the job need only be skilled to RQF level 4 or above.

What are the Tier 2 General sponsorship salary requirements?

With the relevant SOC code selected, the employer can then assign a valid certificate of sponsorship to the non-EEA migrant worker under their Tier 2 General sponsorship licence.

However, the certificate must not only confirm that the job is suitably skilled, but also that the applicant will be paid at or above the appropriate rate for that job. The SOC codes typically list two different salaries, a new entrant rate and an experienced worker rate.

By way of example, for a marketing and sales director the new entrant rate is £32,000, and the experienced worker rate is £49,900. Further, the absolute minimum salary rate for new entrants under the Tier 2 General route is £20,800, and at least £30,00 for experienced workers or the experienced worker rate for the job role, whichever is higher.

What are the Tier 2 General sponsorship recruitment requirements?

In addition to satisfying the relevant skill requirements and minimum salary threshold, in the majority of cases a Tier 2 sponsor must also conduct what’s known as the resident labour market test (RLMT).

This means that the job the employer wants to recruit for must be advertised domestically to give settled workers a chance to apply. The licensed sponsor must then go on to show that no suitable settled worker is available to fill the job or, alternatively, that the job is exempt from the RLMT.

Any job that appears on the shortage occupation list does not need to be advertised before it can be offered to a non-EEA migrant worker. This list includes those skilled jobs where the shortages of resident workers are most severe, and where the consequences of those shortages are most serious.

When carrying out the RLMT, two adverts must be placed in the UK for at least 28 days, in most cases in at least two suitable advertising mediums. The employer must also be able to show, with reference to its recruitment processes that a suitably qualified or skilled settled worker already living permanently in the UK could not be found. Settled workers will not be considered unsuitable on the basis that they lack qualifications, experience or skills that were not specifically requested in the job advertisement.

To satisfy the RLMT requirement the employer will need to provide the selection criteria against which any candidates have been assessed, matching the essential criteria outlined in the job advertisement. The employer must also retain copies of all CV’s and applications for applicants short-listed for final interview, together with any interview notes that justify the appointment of the selected candidate.

What are the Tier 2 General sponsorship applicant requirements?

If applying as a skilled migrant worker under the points based system, to be eligible for a Tier 2 General visa the applicant must score a minimum of 50 points for attributes under paragraphs 76 to 84A of Appendix A of the Immigration Rules.

These points comprise of having a job offer that passes the resident labour market test, or is exempt from that test, and being paid the appropriate salary for the job role in question. Needless to say, the applicant will need to be suitably qualified for that role, having provided their prospective employer with evidence of their qualifications and/or experience.

The applicant must also accrue a minimum of 10 points under paragraphs 1 to 18 of Appendix B, and a further 10 points under paragraphs 4 to 5 of Appendix C. These refer to the applicant’s ability to prove their knowledge of English, and to be able to support themselves financially on arrival in the UK.

Under the English language requirement the applicant can prove their knowledge of English by either passing an approved English language test with at least CEFR level B1 in reading, writing, speaking and listening, or by having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD.

The applicant may be exempt from this requirement if they are a national from a majority English-speaking country.

Under the maintenance requirement, the applicant must have £945 in their bank account for 90 days before they apply for a Tier 2 visa, although they will not need to prove this where they have a fully approved UK sponsor who can give them a guarantee of at least £945 to cover their costs for the first month if they need it. This will need to be confirmed on the certificate of sponsorship.

Please note, where an applicant is applying as a Tier 2 General migrant, and the job they are being sponsored to do falls within certain occupation codes within the healthcare, education and social care sectors, in other words, where they will be working with vulnerable people, they must also provide a valid criminal record certificate. This must be issued by the relevant authority in any country in which the applicant has been present for 12 months or more, whether continuously or in total, in the past 10 years.

Please also note, once a Tier 2 visa has been granted to an applicant, they will be prohibited from undertaking any employment save except for working for their UK sponsor in the job role that the migrant is being sponsored to do, and as set out in their certificate of sponsorship.

Do you need advice on Tier 2 general sponsorship?

DavidsonMorris are specialist UK business immigration lawyers. We work with employers in the UK or looking to set up operations here to help hire and onboard talent through the sponsorship application process and Tier 2 visa route. We understand the importance of a smooth and quick recruitment and onboarding process to avoid missing out on the ideal candidate.

For advice on the Tier 2 general sponsorship, contact us.

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