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How to employ a foreign specialist for a UK company: key requirements and a step-by-step guide

PUBLISHED: 4 October 2019

Many managers of UK companies face a dilemma, to employ someone locally or abroad? When you are conquering a market, it is always better to have somebody you trust, and that somebody can be your colleague or employee overseas who you used to work with. At times there is simply no professional on the local market with the qualification and skills required to grow your business. How to bring these skills to the UK? Both a foreign worker and a UK employer must comply with some stringent requirements. Here is our guide to employing people from abroad.

Who needs a work permit to the UK?

It is straightforward; the following categories do not need a permission to work in the United Kingdom: British citizens, settled workers, EEA and Swiss nationals and their family members. Spouses of British citizens and holders of a Tier 1 Investor visa are also lucky to be able to work in England without any permit.

In all other cases, if you want to employ a foreigner, you must become their sponsor and they must get a visa.

Who is a sponsor?

Before a UK company can even think about hiring someone from abroad, it must get a sponsorship licence. Fortunately, it should not take long if you do it with the help of experienced advisers that for many years have been helping companies with employment solutions.

Your business can get licensed if you have submitted your application to the Home Office, have passed thorough checks and complied with all requirements for sponsors.

There is a rating system for sponsors. A-rated companies can assign sponsorship certificates to foreign specialists, which are basically a job offer, and employ them to work in the UK.

It goes without saying that the UK government would do everything to protect the rights of their citizens; therefore, before you can give a job offer to a foreigner, in the majority of cases you must first do a search on the local market and prove that nobody could be found to satisfy your requirements and criteria for this particular job.

Requirements for a foreign worker

UK employers are required by law to check the right to work for everybody they intend to employ according to strict instructions from the government. Apart from that, a candidate must meet the following main criteria:

  1. Fluent English. Another foreign language, e.g. German or French, would be a plus.
  2. A professional and concise CV with contact details of at least 2 previous employers, and a reference letter.
  3. Proof of qualification. Educational documents must be accepted and recognised in the UK. In other words, you must prove that you are qualified for a job at hand. If you received education abroad, your diploma must be recognised by the UK National Recognition Information Centre.

A foreign worker must also provide a criminal record certificate covering the last 10 years if a UK employer operates in certain fields such as education and healthcare.

Work visas to UK

If you live abroad and want to come and work for a UK-registered business, the best visa for you would be Tier 2 (General), the most common subcategory of work visas.

To get it, you must meet one of the three criteria below. Mind it – not all three of them at the same time, but ONE of them.

  1. You have relevant education, job experience and skills for a proposed position. The job itself must be included in the list of approved occupations.
  2. You are offered a job from the list of shortage occupations, e.g. a nurse.
  3. Your annual salary will be higher than £159,600.

The third point aside, your salary in most cases must be appropriate for your job and never fall under £30,000 a year. You can spend up to 6 years in the UK on this visa.

Another subcategory of work visas is a Tier 2 (Intra-company transfer). You can get it if you work for an international company with an office in England and they offer you a job there. This can be either a long-term contract (visa is granted for up to 5 years and four weeks) or a training placement for graduates (up to 12 months).

Key requirements of the UK employment law

When all the paperwork is ready, a visa is stamped and you have discussed employment terms with your employee, it is time to sign an employment contract. An employee must be registered with the tax authorities and then it is just a question of following all rules and regulations. You as a sponsor are fully responsible for the hired worker and must make sure that they are fulfilling their duties and rules of the organisation they work for. In case you find a violation of these rules, you must report the same to the Home Office and in the worst-case scenario cancel the sponsorship certificate.

As you can see, there are many legal procedures and processes involved in employing a foreign specialist. If you are not sure you can handle it all by yourself, do not hesitate to ask for qualified support. Our experts in immigration and employment laws are here to help you achieve your goals.

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