As of 1st January 2021, the rules surrounding UK visa sponsorships have changed.
If your business recruits workers from outside the UK, you will now require a licence to sponsor visas and employ individuals who arrived in the UK after 31st December 2020. This now includes citizens of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
Please note, you will not need a licence to sponsor certain groups, including:
- Irish citizens
- Those with settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme
- Those with indefinite leave to remain in the UK
You can learn more about the changes on the UK Government website.
How does this affect your recruitment advertising?
While all licence applications will need to be handled via the UK Government website following the link above, there are also updates you should consider making to your recruitment advertising to communicate your stance on visa sponsorship.
What steps should you take?
Before taking the steps below, you should plan whether your business requires a licence or not. If so, you’ll need to make your application on the Government website. If not, you should still consider making some tweaks to your job adverts and application process to ensure this is clearly communicated to candidates so their experience doesn’t suffer.
1. Ensure clarity in your recruitment advertising
If you don’t possess a licence for visa sponsorship and this isn’t something that your business will likely pursue in the future, you should consider stating this on your company website or careers site, so non-UK citizens are able to view your stance on this before they take the time to apply for a job with your company.
On the other hand, if your company does hold a licence for sponsorship, you should also make this clear on your careers site as it could potentially help you tap into a wider pool of qualified candidates who are non-UK citizens.
If your company offers sponsorship on a job-by-job basis (there are difference licences available for Workers and Temporary Workers), rather than having a blanket policy on your careers site, you should aim to make it clear in your job advert whether sponsorship can be offered or not.
2. Include screening questions within your application form
If you have an online application process in place, there’s a good chance that you may already include a question asking candidates if they have the right to work in the UK. Consider changing the wording of this question to state your company’s position; this is an additional opportunity to make candidates aware if your company holds a licence or not before they take the time to complete your application form.
If you don’t currently have a ‘Right to Work’ question included, it’s a good idea to insert one so you’re aware of each candidate’s visa sponsorship requirements when reviewing applications.
3. Make sure you’re set up with the technology to manage records of sponsored employees
If you currently hold, or decide to apply for, a licence to sponsor non-UK citizens to work for your business, the Government requires you to maintain accurate records of sponsored employees and their immigration status, including copies of relevant documents for each employee, including passport and right to work information.
Manual processes of collecting documents or methods of storage can be problematic; as such, you should utilise technology wherever possible to securely store data and documentation. For example, employee onboarding software can help you to obtain and securely store this information when onboarding a new employee.
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