The deadline for EU (including EEA and Swiss citizens) to apply to continue living in the UK is fast approaching, with the EU Settlement Scheme set to close in less than two weeks’ time on 30 June 2021. UK employers should be working with their EU staff to ensure their registration to the Scheme by this date.
If an employee intends to apply under the Scheme but has not yet done so, employers should encourage them to do so without delay, and offer any necessary support with completing their application.
Applications under the Scheme
EU nationals (and their non-EU family members), who started living in the UK before 31 December 2020, will be granted with either “Settled” or “Pre-Settled” status under the Scheme, depending on whether they have resided in the UK continuously for 5 years or less.
Where those eligible EU employees have applied for and been granted with Settled or Pre-Settled status, the employer will not need to take any further action – these employees are permitted to continue working in the UK as normal.
Applying for a sponsor licence
Those EU nationals who have not successfully registered to the Scheme by 30 June 2021 and who do not hold another form of UK immigration permission will require sponsorship from their employer to work in the UK.
UK employers must be granted with a sponsor licence to employ skilled migrant workers from both EU and non-EU countries going forward.
Applying for a sponsor licence is a complex process, requiring employers to identify the type of licence they require, submit an application to UK Visas & Immigration, send in various supporting documentation, and pay a fee.
For medium to large companies, the fee for a Worker licence (which covers long-term or permanent employment), is £1,476. It can take around 8 weeks for UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) to process an application.
If employers do not submit the correct documents, or pay the full fee, the application will be rejected by UK Visas & Immigration without any further consideration and the employer will be prevented from re-applying for a period of time. Employers are therefore strongly encouraged to seek expert advice prior to applying for a sponsor licence.
Once a sponsor licence is granted, it is valid for 4 years, and employers are subject to various duties and obligations including record-keeping and reporting to UK Visas & Immigration. Any failures to comply with obligations may lead to enforcement action, such as the sponsor licence being downgraded or revoked.
Sponsor licence applications are difficult to navigate - should you need any advice or assistance with the application process or with compliance once the licence has been granted, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Clarkslegal UK Immigration team.