Have you ever considered hiring foreign employees?  If your business needs to fill a vacancy for a skilled worker but needs to overcome a skill-shortage or if you are an international organisation employing non-EU migrants, read on.  The procedure for hiring a non-EU national who does not have a certain status in the UK is very different to hiring a UK citizen. It requires the employer to hold a sponsor licence and follow proper procedures before a visa can be granted to the prospective employee. Yet, despite this, you should not be put off employing workers with skills potentially useful for the growth of your business.

New guidance was published by the UK Visas and Immigration Department on the 6th of April 2014 for those wishing to employ and sponsor non-EU migrants (the “Guidance”). This Guidance sets out the process through which employers can expand beyond UK and EU workers. It relates to Tiers 2 and 5 of the Points Based System for assessing immigrants’ skill sets, in the general and temporary workers categories respectively.  The eligibility criteria for those who wish to become sponsors is set out. The Guidance emphasises the importance of effective HR and recruitment systems (including employment policies), with a structured approach allowing employers to expand their pool of workers.  Obligations of when to report to the Home Office and the correct documents to obtain are detailed.

Additionally, an updated code of conduct, published last month by the Secretary of State, has acknowledged the need for a more balanced approach from government. Serial abusers of the system are now subject to civil penalties up to £20,000, up from £10,000. Nevertheless, employers who adhere to proper checks and keep the Home Office informed are to be given more leeway. So do not be afraid of unfair punishment for honest practices.

It is crucial to note, however, that notwithstanding the accessible process for hiring non-EU workers, it is your duty as an employer to prevent illegal working in the UK by carrying out certain document checks. Here there are potential pitfalls which can be damaging to your business. Should you, for instance, target your checks on those you assumed were from outside the EU, based on ethnic origins, you could be liable for an Employment Tribunal compensation claim with no upper limit. Therefore, a properly advised understanding of the system is critical in expanding your workforce.

If you would like to receive more information in relation to:

  • how to become a sponsor eligible to employ non-EU employees;
  • requirements that need to be met by individuals and companies to successfully employ non-EU migrants; or
  • annual checks that you need to carry out in respect of such employees,

please do not hesitate to contact Irina Bernstein of this firm on 0207 843 1820 or send your email to irina@bevankidwell.com.

Please note this article covers the basics but does not constitute formal legal advice.

Please note that the above does not constitute legal advice.