There are just over three months left before the transition period (including free movement of EEA nationals in the UK) comes to an end on 31 December 2020.
As of 1 January 2021, if you are a company in the UK and intend to hire overseas nationals (including EEA nationals), it is essential that the company has a sponsor licence. Similarly, if you are an EEA national and are considering working in the UK, you will be required to have been offered a job, to enable you to apply for either a Skilled Worker visa or Intra Company Transfer visa before entering the UK.
Below, we discuss what you may need to consider as a company in preparation for the changes and the process that EEA nationals will need to follow.
Do we need a sponsor licence?
As of 1 January 2021, if you intend to employ EEA nationals or workers from overseas, you will be required to hold a sponsor licence.
If your company does not currently have a sponsor licence, you may want to consider applying for a licence within the next few months. The Home Office are expecting a surge in sponsor licence applications which could cause a delay in the processing times.
We have various subsidiaries within the UK, how would the company structure affect an application for a sponsor licence?
If you have a number of different offices, UK based subsidiaries or entities, locations or campuses (which are known by the Home Office as ‘branches’) you can register these branches in a number of ways, for example:
- Applying for a single sponsor licence that includes your head office and all branches in the UK;
- Each branch applying for a separate licence; or
- Grouping a number of branches in a single licence i.e. a large UK company might find it more convenient to register all of its operations in a particular region under a single licence.
You will be required to provide evidence to show that your head office and/or group of branches listed, for any tier, are linked by common ownership or control.
We already have a sponsor licence, do we need to apply for a new licence?
If you already have a sponsor licence, you will not be required to apply for a new one. Existing Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (ICT) sponsors will automatically be granted a new Skilled Worker licence or Intra-Company Transfer licence, with an expiry date consistent with their current licence and will also receive an appropriate allocation of Certificates of Sponsorship.
Sponsor licences for companies were initially introduced in 2008 and they are valid for 4 years. As a company you are usually required to renew your licence 90 days before the expiry of your licence, in order to continue to be able to sponsor migrants. If your licence is due for renewal, please see our previous blog for more information. Due to the changes, the Home Office have enabled an early application process for licence renewals, to help businesses prepare for the changes to the UK immigration system.
In preparation for 1 January 2021, you may want to consider the following:
- Any increase in costs to the business i.e. sponsorship costs to enable these to be considered as part of the annual budget;
- Ensuring your HR team are aware of the new rules coming in to force as of 1 January 2021; and
- Ensuring that you have the relevant recruitment processes and HR policy and procedures in place to maintain the relevant duties required of a sponsor licence holder.
Should we consider employing EEA nationals before 1 January 2021?
If an EEA national is able to commence employment before 30 December 2020, this would be a position worth considering, if it is appropriate to do so, because they may be able to qualify for Pre-Settled Status rather than have to fit into the new immigration system.
Whilst the new rules are due to be released this Autumn, no further update has been provided by the Home Office in this regard. Gherson is fully equipped to advise on all aspects of sponsorship licence applications and procedures. Should you require any assistance in this regard, please do not hesitate to contact us.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.
Consultant and trainee solicitor in our Corporate Team