If you are looking to employ or engage non-UK nationals, there are several options available to businesses. Here, Alice Williams from our employment team explores alternative routes to employment within the UK that do not require sponsorship.
International students may be entitled to work alongside their studies. This does not require sponsorship by the business/employer, as the educational institution will usually be the sponsor. When considering whether to employ an international student, you should check the student’s passport, biometric residence permit (BRP), or online profile for work restrictions.
Working hours are usually restricted to 10-20 hours a week for students in term-time and full-time during vacation periods. Students should not be used to fill a permanent full-time vacancy.
When conducting a right to work check for a student, in addition to the usual evidence you must also obtain, copy and keep, copies of documents detailing the academic term and vacation periods covering the entire study period of the student e.g. a letter from the University confirming dates or a screenshot from the educational institution’s website showing term dates for the duration of study.
If there is no mention of work on the student’s passport, BRP, or online profile, they will not be able to work, and if you employ/engage them, they will be working illegally.
The Home Office’s current guidance on right to work checks can be found here.
The graduate route will open on 1 July 2021 and will allow international students on a Student or Tier 4 visa, who have completed a degree at UK bachelor’s or postgraduate level, or a professional course requiring study at that level for at least 12 months in the UK (or the length of the course if less than 12 months) to live in the UK for a period of up to 2 years after their studies (or 3 years if awarded a PhD) and work without sponsorship.
There will be no minimum salary requirements or caps on numbers for eligible applicants. However, this route will not lead to settlement and leave cannot be extended. Although, those on the graduate route will be able to switch into another route such as the Skilled Worker (which does require employer sponsorship) or Global Talent route.
The aim of this route is to attract the best and brightest talent to the UK and to increase the number of international students in the UK.
COVID-19 concessions currently apply to entry requirements. Please check updated guidance for more details.
This route is for non-UK nationals to come to the UK through government approved schemes, such as:
The GAE worker will be sponsored by the scheme provider and not the employer. The purpose of this route is to share skills and experience. A common use of this route is an internship although it cannot be used to fill an existing vacancy and must be limited to a supernumerary role. Any work undertaken must be skilled work equivalent to National or Scottish vocational qualification (N/SVQ) level 3 or above. Other than that being done for the sponsor, any work must not exceed 20 hours per week and must be in the same profession at the same level as the sponsored role unless it is on the Shortage Occupation List. GAE workers may also have the ability to study, but an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate may be required.
As with the graduate route, this route does not lead to settlement and is a temporary route. A GAE worker can stay in the UK for a period of between 12 and 24 months (or the time on their Certificate of Sponsorship if shorter), based on the reason for their entry clearance.
Further details can be found on the Gov website here.
This route allows individuals to work in the endorsed field for up to 5 years at a time with the ability to extend for a further 5 years.
The route is for leaders or potential leaders in the following areas:
This route is likely to be attractive to both businesses and individuals as it does not require sponsorship, there is no cap on successful applications and visa fees are less costly than other routes. For individuals, this route can lead to settlement after 3 or 5 years based on the endorsement path.
However, since its introduction take-up has been low. This may be because of the pandemic (having been introduced in February 2020). It may also be partly due to the complex nature of gaining endorsement, which is an integral part of the process for the majority of applications.
Until 4 May 2021, the route was limited to obtaining endorsement from a relevant body. This will depend on the area of leadership and includes UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the Royal Society, the British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering, Tech Nation, and Arts Council England.
From 5 May 2021, an individual who has been awarded a prestigious prize listed in Appendix Global Talent: Prestigious Prizes does not need to apply for endorsement. Further details can be found on the Gov website here.
If you would like further information on any of the points discussed above, you can contact us directly.