For some business owners, hiring foreign workers is almost essential due to the nature or requirements of their business. Whatever your pre-requisite for employing someone from outside the UK, you must be mindful of certain rules and requirements that foreign workers need to adhere to if they want to work in the UK. Is your business is thinking of hiring migrant workers? Here is what you need to know
The UK Immigration System
Since 1 January 2021, everyone (except for UK and Ireland nationals) has required immigration permission if they want to work in the UK.
Following Brexit and the end of freedom of movement, EU, EEA and Swiss nationals (and certain family members) who arrived in the UK before 11 pm on 31 December 2020 had until 30 June 2021 to apply for (pre-)settled status under the EUSS in order to retain the right to live and work in the UK. It is still possible to apply under the scheme if individuals meet one of the criteria for the later deadline apply, or have reasonable grounds for not applying before the deadline, but this will only apply in limited circumstances.
All nationals from outside the UK and Ireland looking to work in the UK who are not eligible to apply under the EUSS and do not have an alternative route of entry (for example, eligibility for a visa as a spouse/civil partner of a UK or Irish national or person settled in the UK) will need to obtain a visa under the Points-based system (PBS).
Points Based System
The main business immigration routes under the PBS include:
- Skilled Worker – for individuals in skilled roles sponsored by a UK employer. This route replaced the previous Tier 2 route.
- Global Business Mobility (Senior or Specialist Worker) – for overseas employees moving to a linked UK entity. This route replaced the previous Intra-Company Transfer route.
- Global Business Mobility (UK Expansion Worker) – for senior managers or specialist employees who are undertaking temporary work assignments in the UK related to a business’s expansion to the UK. This route replaced the previous Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa.
- Global Talent – for leading individuals in academia/research, the arts and digital technology, who have been endorsed by a Home Office-approved body.
- Start-Up – for entrepreneurs who have been endorsed by a Home Office-approved body to set up a business in the UK.
- Graduate – for individuals who are already in the UK under a student visa and who meet various eligibility criteria. The visa allows the graduate to stay in the UK for 2-3 years to look for, or undertake, work. There are no restrictions on the type of work that graduates can do under this type of visa and it does not require sponsorship.
- Innovator – for individuals who have been endorsed by a Home Office-approved body to set up an innovative new business in the UK, which is different from anything else on the market.
- Scale-Up (opens from 22 August 2022) – for individuals with a skilled job offer from a “qualifying UK scale-up” (broadly speaking, a fast-growing business that holds a sponsor license and meets certain criteria).
- High Potential Individual (opened from 30 May 2022) – for individuals who have graduated from a top global university within the last 5 years. This visa allows individuals to obtain a work visa for between 2 and 3 years without the need for a sponsor.
All UK employers (whether sponsors or not) are required to prevent the employment of illegal workers by conducting a “right to work check” on all employees before the start of their employment. If an employer is found to have employed an illegal worker and has not conducted right-to-work checks, they risk a civil penalty of up to £20,000 per illegal worker and potentially criminal sanctions in certain circumstances.
Employers will need to make sure that they have systems in place to conduct and record right-to-work checks in a legally compliant way, and that they avoid any discriminatory treatment of individuals in how these checks are carried out.
At Davenport Solicitors, we’re experts in business immigration and advise many businesses on the immigration and employment aspects of recruiting and employing overseas nationals in the UK. We hope that you’ve found this blog post on ‘Thinking of hiring migrant workers? Here is what you need to know’ useful. To learn how we can help you, contact a member of our team here.