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Sponsoring Tier 2 workers

What is the Points-Based System?

Non-EEA nationals need to apply for a visa from the Home Office in order to work in the UK. Some are eligible for a visa based on the immigration status of their relatives or ancestry; others apply and are considered and scored by UK Visas & Immigration using a points-based system (PBS) to determine whether a visa will be granted.

What is Tier 2 of the PBS?

Tier 2 of the PBS covers sponsored skilled workers to whom we have made a job offer. As a hiring manager or as a line manager, you will need to be aware of your roles and responsibilities during their recruitment and employment. You will be supported by the Global Mobility Team

For anything not covered below, please contact the Global Mobility Team

What is a Certificate of Sponsorship?

The University is licensed to provide a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) which demonstrates that the individual has a firm offer of appropriate employment, which contributes points to their score. As such it supports an individual’s Tier 2 visa application (but does not guarantee its approval, and does not give the migrant the right to work in the UK).

The CoS is not a paper certificate or document, but a virtual document with a reference number, issued by UKVI and provided to the individual via HR Services.

To obtain a CoS:

  • The University must demonstrate that it has a genuine vacancy that cannot be filled with a suitably qualified or skilled settled worker. HR Services will support you in this right from the start of the recruiting process.
  • The University pledges to accept all of the legal duties expected when sponsoring the migrant. HR Services will inform you of your obligations as a line manager when the sponsored worker is appointed.

What types of jobs can we sponsor Tier 2 workers to do?

UKVI regularly update the criteria for jobs which can be sponsored, which is based on:

  • skill level 
  • salary thresholds 
  • the resident labour market

In general, the University has been able to sponsor academic workers (Lecturers, Senior Lecturers, Readers, Chairs and equivalents) earning a minimum of £35,500 and Research roles at Grade 6 and above, earning a minimum of £30,000 (as at April 2017).

We recommend that you contact HR Services prior to advertising a role to establish whether it would meet current eligibility criteria, and whether a Resident Labour Market Test will be required.

What is a Resident Labour Market Test

For most roles UKVI require us to conduct a test of the local labour pool, to ensure that there are no suitable workers already living permanently in the UK, BEFORE a Certificate of Sponsorship can be issued. 

This involves:

  • Placing an advert in a minimum number of specified media
  • Specific content to be included in advertising
  • A minimum advertising period of 28 calendar days
  • Retaining evidence that advertisement met UKVI requirements
  • Keeping records of applicants including reasons why settled workers were not appointable

HR Services will support you in conducting the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT), which you must discuss prior to advertising. They will also advise if the role is exempt from needing a RLMT. If the post is not exempt, and your appointee needs a Certificate of Sponsorship, HR Services will require a copy of your shortlisting information for all candidates, and copies of interview notes.

How long do Tier 2 visas last?

They can only be granted up to a total maximum of six years. After this period the University cannot obtain any further extensions and the individual would have to leave the UK. They would not be able to apply for a further Tier 2 visa for 12 months. They may wish to apply for settlement or “indefinite leave to remain”.

If an extension for a current member of staff is required, you should contact as soon as possible to discuss, however please note that a CoS extension cannot be processed more than 3 months before an individual’s Tier 2 visa is due to expire.

Who pays the costs of sponsoring Tier 2 staff?

  • The University pays for the Certificate of Sponsorship from a central budget. Payment is made in HR Services.
  • The University also pays for the Immigration Skills Charge if applicable from a central budget at the point the Certificate of Sponsorship is paid for.
  • The individual pays for their Tier 2 Visa during the visa application process and is reimbursed by the University for standard visa costs from a central budget.
  • The individual pays for their own NHS Health surcharge during the visa application process and is reimbursed for this by the University from a central budget.
  • The individual pays for their dependents’ visas and health surcharges during their visa application process. The University will offer the individual an interest-free loan to repay these costs.
  • The University will certify maintenance for Tier 2 applicants and their dependents.

For more information see the University’s visa cost and loans policy.

How long does the process of sponsoring take?

The process to hire a sponsored worker can be lengthy, given the requirement to advertise for 28 days, the time it takes to complete shortlisting and interviews, and the time it takes for an individual’s visa application to be considered by the Home Office. This is usually 2 to 3 weeks (

Additionally if the individual is applying from outside the UK, the University will need to apply for a ‘restricted’ COS. These are allocated by a Home Office group which meets only once a month, so for those individuals the hiring process end-to-end can take several months. A realistic start date should be considered taking these steps into account.

Consideration should also be given to whether sponsorship is feasible for roles that have fixed start and end dates (for example, as a condition of funding).

Once I have hired a sponsored individual, what are my responsibilities?

UKVI must be notified of a range of activities in relation to the sponsored worker. When the individual is appointed, you will receive an e-mail from HR Services outlining your obligations which are also outlined here.

Can Tier 2 staff apply for other jobs internally on their current visa?

If a redeployee or internal candidate holds a Tier 2 (General) visa they can only be appointed into a job within the same occupation group. For example a research associate can be appointed to another project but they could not be appointed to a lecturer role as this would require a full resident labour market test.

What do I need to know about the other Tiers of the PBS?

Less commonly, prospective staff can apply for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa, but the individual makes this application personally without being sponsored by the University.

Tier 4 covers international students, sponsored by the University to support their visa application to study in the UK. Their visa may allow them to work in the UK with restrictions. However their applications are processed by the University’s Student Services Immigration Team.

The University can also issue Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) under the Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange category for sponsored researchers. Contact the Global Mobility Team for further information.