Updated Home Office guidance for Tier 2 and 5 sponsors ahead of the new financial year

Amid the unrest of a global pandemic, the Home Office has released its updated guidance for Tier 2 and 5 sponsors ahead of the financial year end. The full guidance can be found here.

In the wake of Brexit and the end of free movement at the end of the year, the Home Office is moving towards the implementation of the new points-based system from January 2021. Further detail on what this system will look like was released by the government in February and can be found here.

This new guidance contains an entire new annex; Annex 9 which clarifies information for employers who, under the new points-based system, wish to sponsor migrants to work in the UK. The overriding message from this update is that organisations should start applying for their sponsor licence as soon as possible. The Home Office implies that the sooner the process is in motion, the better. This will ensure a smooth transition into the new system.

We have reviewed the updated guidance and summarised the key changes as follows:

  1. The Home Office is actively encouraging employers to apply early for a sponsor licence. This extends to those that are unsure whether they will need to sponsor under the new system, and those who do not sponsor under the current system but may need to do so from January 2021. However, in these cases, you will not be allocated any Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) at this stage.
  2. Visa applications under the new system are expected to open in Autumn 2020.
  3. It will, however, not be possible to assign a CoS to anyone who will be undertaking a role at Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) level 3 to 5 until January 2021, as the current requirement of RQF Level 6 will remain until this date.
  4. Paragraph 24.9 of the guidance regarding exceptions to the RQF Level 6 skill level for Tier 2 visas has also been amended to include jobs that are RQF level 3 if an application is made under the new system i.e. from January 2021.
  5. For EU, EEA and Swiss nationals, CoS for a role at RQF level 6 and above will only be required if the individual is due to come to the UK from 1 January 2021 onward.
  6. Currently, if your application for a sponsorship licence is refused, you are able to reapply immediately, however under the new guidance, 6 months must pass before you are able to re-apply.
  7. The Home Office has also amended the guidance to confirm that a full refund of the Immigration Skills Charge (ICS) should be made available should a CoS not be used in a valid application.

Should you or your organisation require assistance in navigating sponsorship or you are unsure whether you will be requiring a licence, please contact Julie. She and the team are on hand to help.

The law and practice referred to in this article or webinar has been paraphrased or summarised. It might not be up-to-date with changes in the law and we do not guarantee the accuracy of any information provided at the time of reading. It should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice in relation to a specific set of circumstances.

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