A Guide for Recruiting Overseas Architectural Talent in a UK Post-Brexit Job Market

Hello! This guide is intended for Architectural Practices or Job Seekers to hand to employers to help demystify sponsoring a talented Architectural professional from overseas.

Please note this is not legal advice, nor are we employment solicitors. We would recommend you seek appropriate legal advice with any further questions or insights you may have on your particular set of circumstances.

Right to Work for EU Nationals

When did the EU national first enter the UK?

  • If they entered the UK before 31 December 2020, you should follow the process below.
  • If they entered the UK after 01 January 2021, they would need to follow the Skilled Worker Route.

Have they applied for either EU pre-settled or settled status?

If the applicant uses the online checking service, this will generate a share code. Using this share code and date of birth, you must then use the employer’s online service to check their right to work. (https://www.gov.uk/view-right-to-work)

A duty not to discriminate against EU nationals

  • You have a duty not to discriminate against EU, EEA or Swiss citizens and cannot require them to show you their status under the EU Settlement Scheme until after 30 June 2021.
  • It’s also worth noting that EU Nationals arriving after 01 January 2021 will be entering as visitors and will not be able to work or be self-employed without a visa.

Acceptable documents to provide a right to work for EU Nationals

  • EU, EEA or Swiss Citizens can use their passport or national identity card
  • Non-EU, EEA or Swiss citizen family members can use an immigration status document.
  • EU, EEA and Swiss Citizens and their family members can use the online right to work checking service.

Please be advised if you have not confirmed EU Pre-Settled Status or Settled Status for any EU Nationals on or after 30 June 2021, they will no longer possess the right to work in the UK.

Irish nationals will have a right to work simply upon production of their passport or national
identity card in the same way as British/settled persons.

Skilled Worker Visas – The Process

Skilled Worker Visa

The Worker and Temporary Worker Route apply to both:

  • EEA nationals who arrive in the UK after 11 pm on 31 December 2020; and
  • Non-EEA nationals who apply for entry clearance or permission on or after 01 December 2020.

Sponsoring a worker

  • You will need to sponsor any worker you wish to employ if they are not British/Settled in the UK or do not have appropriate immigration permission to work in the UK.
  • To sponsor a worker, you must hold a valid sponsor licence for the route you intend to sponsor them. If you do not hold a sponsor licence, you must apply for one before you can sponsor the worker.
  • Please note that a recruitment agency cannot hold a sponsor licence to outsource labour to another organisation.
  • Employees would need to be on the company’s payroll and cannot work on a self-employed
    basis.

How do you sponsor a worker?

  • You must assign a certificate of sponsorship (CoS) to the worker so that they can make a successful immigration application. You will need to pay a fee of £199 to assign the certificate and may also have to pay the Immigration Skills Surcharge of £364/£1000 per year of sponsorship.

Before you assign a CoS, check the following:

Points Requirement for a Skilled Worker Visa

An applicant must score 50 mandatory points against the following requirements:

  • Offer of a Job by a Home Office approved Sponsor- 20 points
  • Job at Appropriate Skill Level- 20 points
  • Speaks English at required level- 10 points
  • In addition, there are up to 20 tradeable points.

Step 1: Assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship

There are two types of CoS: (Cost of Assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship is £199 for the
employer)

  • Defined CoS – These are for Skilled Workers applying for a visa from outside of the UK. A
    decision can be obtaining in 1 working day following which the candidate can apply for their
    skilled worker visa from overseas.
  • ‘Undefined CoS’ – These are for Skilled Workers applying for a visa from within the UK or a CoS assigned to existing workers. A Sponsor is likely to have an annual allocation of Undefined CoS they can assign whenever they need to employ a candidate.

The Role – Job at Appropriate Level

You must be able to offer genuine employment that is skilled at RQF Level 3 or above. (A-Level Standard). Applicants would score 20 points out of a requisite 70 points for having a job at the appropriate skill level.
You can only sponsor workers for a job which is listed in Table 1 of 2 of Appendix Skilled Occupations.
You can also sponsor eligible healthcare professionals for Health & Care Visas.

Salary Requirements

You must ensure that you pay any worker you wish to sponsor at least £25,600 or the minimum salary specified in the SOC for their role.

  • Any changes to a worker’s salary must be reported via your Sponsor Management System (SMS).
  • The Home Office will undertake regular checks via HMRC via your Employer PAYE
  • Reference and compliance visits to ensure that you are paying the amount you said you would.
  • Allowances and guaranteed bonuses can be included but not performance-related bonuses.
OptionRequirements
A: Salary OnlyThe applicant’s salary equals or exceeds BOTH: £25,600 a year; and The going rate for their SOC
B: Relevant PhDPhD in a subject relevant to their job and the applicant’s salary equals or exceeds
BOTH: £23,040 per year; and 90% of the going rate for their SOC
C: Relevant
STEM PhD
PhD in a Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) subject
relevant to their job and the applicant’s salary equals or exceeds BOTH:
£20,480 per year; and 80% of the going rate for their SOC
D: Shortage
Occupation
Job is in a listed shortage occupation, and the applicant’s salary equals or exceeds
BOTH: £20,480 per year; and 80% of the going rate for their SOC
E: New
Entrant
The applicant is a new entrant to the labour market and their salary equals or exceeds
BOTH:
£20,480 per year; and 70% of the going rate for their SOC
F: Listed
Health or
Educational
Occupation
Job is a listed health or education occupation, and the applicant’s salary equals or
exceeds both: (All Health or Education SOCs can only be awarded points from F)
£20,480 per year; and The going rate for their SOC

Immigration Skills Surcharge

  • You may have to pay the Immigration Skills Surcharge each time to assign a certificate of sponsorship. If you are deemed a small sponsor, you will pay £364 or £1000 if you are deemed a large sponsor.
  • You do not need to pay the Skills Surcharge in the following circumstances:
    • They are applying for entry clearance for less than 6 months.
    • They are being sponsored under certain exempt SOC occupations.
    • They are a Student who is switching to a Skilled Worker visa
    • They had been assigned a CoS under Tier 2 (General) or (ICT) before 06 April 2017 and they
      have continued to hold leave under the Tier 2/Skilled Worker category.

English Language Requirement – 10 Points

All applicants must score 10 points for English language by either:

  • Being a national of a majority English-speaking country.
  • Holding a degree that was taught in English and has been deemed by UK Naric as being equivalent to a UK Bachelors/Master’s degree and taught in English.
  • Passing a Home Office-approved English Language test in all four components (reading, writing, speaking and listening).

Maintenance Requirement

All Applicants must also have at least £1270 in their bank account to show they can support themselves in the UK. They will need to have had the money available for at least 28 days in a row prior to their application. Day 28 must be within 31 days of applying for this visa. If they have been in the UK with a valid visa for at least 12 months or their employer has certified their maintenance requirement for the first month in the UK they will not need to show their bank statements as proof of maintenance.

Step 2: After you have assigned a certificate of sponsorship

Once you have assigned a valid CoS to a worker and have paid and Immigration Skills Surcharge the worker can then use the CoS to make an application for entry clearance or leave to remain within three months of the date, you assign it.

How to make an immigration application

  • If the Worker you wish to sponsor is based outside of the United Kingdom, you must assign a Defined CoS and obtain entry clearance in the relevant route before they come to the UK.
  • If the worker is already in the UK, you must assign an Undefined CoS, and they must apply for permission to either continue working with you; change employment or to switch from a different immigration route.
  • If you want to sponsor a worker who is already in the UK on another immigration route you should check that their current immigration status allows them to switch.
  • Individuals can only switch to the Worker Routes if they were not last granted permission as:
    • Visitor
    • Short-term student
    • Parent of a Child Student
    • Seasonal Worker
    • Domestic Worker in a Private Household
    • Outside of the Immigration Rules

Application Fees and Timelines

Sponsor Licence: If a company does not possess a Sponsor Licence, the Home Office processing time to approve an application is either eight weeks under a Standard service or ten working days under a Priority Service.

  • Sponsor Licence: If a company does not possess a Sponsor Licence, the Home Office processing time to approve an application is either eight weeks under a Standard service or ten working days under a Priority Service.
  • Fees: £536 for a Small company (typically if any 2 of the following apply-less than 50 employees,
    turnover of £10.2m or less; £5.1 m or less on its balance sheet; or £1476 for medium to large companies. 10 Day priority service – £500)
  • CoS: £199
  • Immigration Skills Surcharge: £364 or £1000 if medium/large employer per year of sponsorship (e.g. a 3 year sponsorship will be £1092 or £3000)
  • Skilled Worker Visa Application: £610 when applying overseas or £704 in the country for a 3-year visa. If you assign a certificate for more than three years, the fees are £1220 (when applying overseas) or £1408(when applying from within the UK.
  • Roles within the Shortage Occupation List: £464 for a 3 year visa. If you assign a certificate for more than 3 years, the fees are £928.
  • Health Surcharge Fee: £624 per year of visa.
  • Priority Service for Skilled Worker Visa: £283 for a 5 day service for out of country applications; £500 for a 5 day priority service or £800 for a 24 hour service in country. Standard turnaround from outside of the UK is a 15 working days or 8 weeks if applying from within the UK.

Final Thoughts

Once you have reached the point where you can on-board your skilled worker, it is important that your employment documents accurately reflect the skilled worker’s immigration status and requirements.


Where you are employing a skilled worker, we would strongly recommend that any visa requirements are
documented in the offer letter and employment contract, to demonstrate compliance with your legal obligations.

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