Under the Points Based System (PBS) for immigration, most people applying to come to or remain in the UK to work or study who are not nationals of the European Economic Area or Swiss nationals will, in addition to having to meet the criteria set by the PBS of assessment, require a certificate of sponsorship from a licensed sponsor in order to qualify for permission to enter or remain.
The five tiers under the PBS are being introduced in stages and the starting dates from which migrants can apply to come to the UK under each category are as follows:
Tier Application Date
Tier 1 Highly skilled workers 29 February 2008
Tier 1 Investors, entrepreneurs and post-study workers 30 June 2008
Tier 2 Skilled workers with a job offer November 2008
Tier 3 Low skilled workers to fill temporary labour shortages Tier Suspended
Tier 4 Students Spring 2009
Tier 5 Youth mobility and temporary workers November 2008
Employers who want to be able to issue certificates of sponsorship to migrant workers when tiers 2 and 5 open for applications at the end of November 2008 should apply for a sponsor licence as soon as possible. You must apply no later than 1 October 2008.
From 1 April 2009, the aim is to process all sponsor licence applications within a maximum of four weeks. The eventual target time for dealing with migrants’ applications to enter the UK will also be a maximum of four weeks.
However, when tiers 2 and 5 are first opened to migrant applications, the target time for processing applications for a sponsor licence will be a maximum of six weeks. This is because there will be high volumes of applications to be dealt with during the transition to the PBS. The initial target time for dealing with migrants’ applications to enter the UK will also be a maximum of six weeks.
These service standards assume that employers will be able to host a visit from the UK Borders Agency, should one be necessary, within one week of being contacted. If this is not possible, it may lead to a delay in processing the application.
A sponsor licence will be valid for four years from the date when it is issued or from the day that applications are accepted for the relevant tier, whichever is later.
The Home Office has also published proposals for much tighter rules for foreign students – and the universities and colleges hosting them – under the student tier of the PBS.
For more information, see the website of the UK Border Agency.