Date updated:

Many organisations in the education sector are struggling to recruit support workers for their schools. Roles that are experiencing workforce shortages include Learning Support Assistant, Classroom Support, and SEN Teaching Assistant. Organisations are therefore considering the sponsorship of overseas nationals to fill these roles. However, there are often financial restrictions on organisations when it comes to the salaries of sponsored support workers.

The minimum salary a sponsored individual can be paid is the highest of: £25,600, £10.10 per hour, or the ‘going rate’ for the type of work they will be undertaking. This is irrespective of the hours worked and is the case unless there are tradeable points available under the points-based system that permit a lower salary to be paid.

Tradeable points may be available if the role is on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL), if the applicant is considered a ‘new entrant’ to the UK labour market, or if the applicant’s role is on the eligible education list.

A role may be considered for tradeable points under the SOL if it is listed here on the UK Visa’s and Immigration website. There is, however, a separate list for roles in education and healthcare, which can be found here. Many support worker roles are not included under the SOL. An organisation may therefore wish to consider the ‘new entrant’ tradeable points option.

An applicant may be considered a ‘new entrant’ if they are under the age of 26, if they have just completed an eligible degree or were previously in the UK as a graduate or student, providing this permission expired less than two years ago.

If this does not apply either, a lower salary may also be permitted for a role which falls within one of the following eligible education SOC codes:

  • 2314: secondary education teaching professionals
  • 2315: primary and nursery education teaching professionals
  • 2316: special needs education teaching professionals

An overseas applicant applies for a SEN Learning Support Teacher role at a school in the UK. The applicant is 28 years old and completed their degree seven years ago. They have only ever been to the UK as a visitor. The minimum salary this individual can be paid will be £25,600, £10.10 per hour or the ‘going rate’, unless a tradeable point option applies.

The role of Learning Support Teacher does not fall within UKVI’s Shortage Occupation List, meaning this tradeable points option is not viable for the organisation.

The applicant is not considered a new entrant. They are over the age of 26, they have not completed an eligible degree recently, nor have they previously been in the UK as a graduate or student. The organisation cannot therefore rely on this option either.

The role of SEN Learning Support Teacher may, however, be placed under the SOC code of 2316. As this role falls within the eligible education list, the salary could potentially be reduced to £20,480.

Increasing numbers of organisations in the education sector are looking into sponsoring overseas nationals to fill workforce shortages in support roles. As salary can be an important factor when considering sponsorship, sponsors should carefully explore all tradeable points options available to them under the points-based system.

If you would like further information on sponsorship or any other immigration-related matter, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our Head of Immigration, Julie Moktadir.