Business Immigration Solicitors
Our specialist Business Immigration solicitors can help your business stay compliant with Home Office standards, avoid penalties for employing illegal workers and eliminate risks to your sponsor licence so that you can continue hiring overseas employees.
How to employ someone from overseas
Hiring overseas employees from outside the European Economic Area (“EEA”) can be an important way of getting top talent into your business. The UK operates a tiered system of immigration status for those individuals outside of the EEA who wish to invest in the UK or to come to work. Any business that wishes to hire overseas employees must also operate within this tiered system.
The current tiers are:
- Tier 1 (Investor)
- Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)
- Tier 2 (General)
- Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer)
- Tier 2 (Minister of Religion)
- Tier 2 (Sportsperson)
- Tier 4 (General) Student
- Tier 4 (Child) Student
- Tier 5 (Temporary Worker)
- Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme)
Our team of specialist immigration solicitors work with you from an early stage in your business planning to determine the best visa to meet the needs of your business and to guide you through the application process to ensure a successful outcome.
Tier 1 Investor visa
The Tier 1 Investor category is designed to attract high-net worth investors to the UK who can make a minimum investment of 2 Million GBP. UK Visas & Immigration is still accepting new applications under this route, despite worries that the category would be suspended.
Holders of Tier 1 Investor visas will be eligible for to apply for settlement after 5 years, but larger investments can shorten this process. Individuals who invest up to 5 Million GBP can settle in the UK after 3 years and those who invest up to 10 Million GBP can settle in the UK after 2 years.
We can help individuals who want to apply for a Tier 1 Investor visa by advising on acceptable investments, processing applications and advising on settling in the UK.
Holding a Tier 2 sponsor licence
Tier 2 of the points based system is the primary route for employing non EU workers in the UK. Under this category, your business will require a sponsor licence issued by UK Visas & Immigration (“UKVI”).
We advise businesses on the sponsorship licence application process, ensuring all compliance requirements are met and correct documentation supporting documents are submitted.
Once a business has obtained its licence, it is then able to issue Certificates of Sponsorship to non EEA workers based overseas or already in the UK in order to employ them.
Certificate of sponsorship processing time
The employer will need to use the Sponsor Management System to make an application for a restricted certificate of sponsorship. Applications are considered on the first working day after the 10th day of the month. This is called the ‘allocation date’. If you apply after the 5th day of the month then your application will be held until the next month’s allocation date.
Unrestricted certificates can be used for workers who will be earning more than £159,600 per year, or for individuals who are already in the UK extending their Tier 2 visaApplicants in this category will be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after 5 continuous years in the UK.
Certificate of Sponsorship allocation
There is a monthly allocation meeting for restricted certificates. The Home Office has imposed an annual cap of 20,700 visas split into 12 monthly caps. The table below sets out the provisional number of certificates available for each month.
Application period Provisional monthly allocation 6 March – 5 April 2,200 6 April – 5 May 2,000 6 May – 5 June 2,000 6 June – 5 July 2,000 6 July – 5 August 2,000 6 August – 5 September 2,000 6 September – 5 October 2,000 6 October – 5 November 1,500 6 November – 5 December 1,500 6 December – 5 January 1,500 6 January – 5 February 1,500 6 February – 5 March 1,000
Tier 2 sponsor guidance
We advise Tier 2 licence holders on compliance issues, sponsor management system queries and reporting duties to UKVI. Our clients can rest assured that, with our guidance, they will stay compliant with the Home Office’s standards, preventing their sponsor licence from being put at risk of suspension or revocation.
Tier 2 sponsor license processing time
The Home Office’s current service standard for processing sponsor licence applications is currently up to 8 weeks, but this can vary according to the situation.
It is common for UKVI to conduct pre-sponsor licence compliance visits and, in some cases, will require further evidence to be submitted before a decision is made. It is therefore important to ensure that all supporting documents needed for the application are prepared and in the correct format in advance of submitting the online application, as they will have to be submitted within 5 working days.
Tier 2 intra company transfer
A Tier 2 intra-company transfer visa is for overseas employee needing to transfer to a UK branch of their organisation. Employers will need the appropriate sponsor licence and applications are normally processed within 3 weeks.
There are 2 types of intra-company transfer visa:
This is for experienced employees who have worked for their organisation for longer than a year or are paid more than £73,900 per year. The visa is valid for up to 5 years if you are paid less than £120,000 per year and up to 9 years if paid more than £120,000 per year.
Employees will need to have worked for your business for more than 12 months, unless you are going to pay them £73,900 or more a year to work in the UK.
This visa is for transfers into graduate trainee programmes for specialist roles. The individual needs to be a recent graduate with at least 3 months’ experience with your overseas business.
Tier 4 visa guidance
We work closely with independent schools and international students to assist them through the Tier 4 student and child student visa process. We advise on issuing Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS), visa applications and document submission, challenging refusal decisions and visa extensions.
Tier 4 (General) is open to students over 16 years old. Students aged between 4 and 17 can apply as Tier 4 (Child) students.
Applicants will need to show they can pay their course fees and maintain themselves adequately in the UK. We can advise on the required level of financial maintenance and evidence required.
We also advise parents who have children studying in the UK on visiting the UK during term time.
Tier 4 visa extension
A Tier 4 visa can be extended in the UK to allow a student to continue further studies. Applicants can also switch to a Tier 2 visa if they are offered a suitably skilled job
Tier 5 visa guidance
Tier 5 (Temporary Worker)
This category is for short terms workers from outside the EEA who want to come to the UK for work experience or training. Applicants can also take part in an Overseas Government Language Programme, research or fellowship.
The visa will last for a maximum of 24 months depending on the length of the programme.
Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme)
This category is for 18-30 year olds from Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea and Taiwan.
Applicants must have £1,890 in savings and will be able to study and work in most jobs in the UK for up to 2 years.
We advise clients on the initial visa and eligibility for switching into other categories whilst in the UK.
Sole representative of overseas business
We advise individuals employed by overseas businesses wanting to come to the UK to establish and operate a registered branch or wholly owned subsidiary in the UK.
To be eligible, applicants must show they were recruited and employed outside the UK that they intend to work full time in the UK as the sole representative of their employer, that they are not a majority shareholder of the business, and they are senior enough in the organisation and have the requisite skills and experience.
The initial visa is valid for up to 3 years, after which it can be extended and can lead to settlement in the UK after 5 years.
he sole representative visa processing time can vary by country and most are processed within 2-3 weeks.
Right to work checks
All businesses must be vigilant when hiring workers and take the appropriate steps to confirm that they are permitted to work in the United Kingdom, otherwise they may be liable for a civil penalty. We work with clients to ensure that they have the proper right to work checking process in place to safeguard their business from liability.
We also work with client to ensure that an extension application and a further right to work check is made in time for employees with time-limited permission to stay in the UK.
Penalty for employing illegal workers
If you are found to be employing someone illegally, this could lead to a civil penalty of up to £20,000 per illegal worker. If you have been issued with a civil penalty, speak to our solicitors as soon as possible. We can challenge the validity of the penalty and/or can seek to reduce its amount.
Suspension or revocation of your sponsor licence
If you are an existing licence holder, be aware that UKVI routinely conducts inspections without notice, assessing whether your business meets the standards set out by Home Office guidance in respect of record keeping for non-EEA workers.
The sponsor licence system places great responsibility on the sponsor to meet the required standards. There is no need for a breach to have occurred for the Home Office to suspend or revoke a licence - the licence can be revoked if the Home Office merely suspect a breach of immigration control might occur in the future. Even minor breaches of the guidance can result in the downgrading of your licence, or complete revocation, causing disruption and uncertainty to your business.
Where a business has already received a negative licence decision we can:
- Prepare representations and evidence in response to a suspension decision to avoid licence revocation and reinstate your full licence.
- Challenge a revocation decision by way of Judicial Review to overturn the decision, reinstate your licence, and avoid the curtailment of leave for your employees or reinstate their leave to remain if it has been curtailed – we can also seek to secure your costs against the Home Office.
We can advise businesses preparing for Brexit on how best to secure the immigration status of their affected European workers and provide training and guidance to Human Resources professionals on expected changes to the immigration system.
It is anticipated that in the event of a “no deal” Brexit, all EU nationals currently living in the UK will need to register under the Settled Status scheme by the end of 2020.
We provide a on the scheme, advising clients on eligibility, evidential requirements, the application process and challenging negative decisions.
How can Barlow Robbins Help Me?
With the help of our team you can rest assured that your business will stay compliant with the Home Office's standards, preventing your sponsor licence from being put at risk.
We can offer you a bespoke mock audit service for your business, identifying its strengths and areas for improvement and help you implement these changes successfully. If your sponsor licence is under threat, we will work closely with you to eliminate this risk so that you can retain your licence.