The way employers hire someone from outside the UK changed on 1 January 2021, when the Brexit transition period ended.
There is now a points-based immigration system. This means that:
- you’ll need a sponsor licence to hire most employees and workers from outside the UK
- anyone you recruit from outside the UK will need to meet certain requirements
You should plan ahead if you want to offer a job to someone from outside the UK. It may take longer than it used to.
Apply for a sponsor licence
You’ll need to check whether you need a sponsor licence, and what type of sponsor licence to apply for.
You do not need a licence to sponsor people in some groups, including:
- Irish citizens
- anyone with settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme
- anyone with indefinite leave to remain in the UK
The type of sponsor licence depends on a number of things, including whether you want to hire someone on a temporary basis or offer someone a long-term or permanent job.
You’ll need a separate sponsor licence for each person you want to hire.
Find out more about UK visa sponsorship for employers on GOV.UK.
Check they have the right to work in the UK
When you offer someone a job, you must ask for proof that they have the right to work in the UK.
You could be fined up to £20,000 if you do not check this.
Find out more about checking a job applicant’s right to work on GOV.UK.
If you already employ EU, EEA or Swiss citizens
EU, EEA and Swiss citizens have until 30 June 2021 to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme, as long as they started living in the UK on or before 31 December 2020.
The EEA includes the EU countries and also Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
Irish citizens do not need to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme.
Find out more about employing EU citizens on GOV.UK.
Find out more
For detailed guidance on how to hire someone from outside the UK, see recruiting people from outside the UK guidance on GOV.UK.
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