Sponsoring Tier 2 migrants: A quick guide to accessing a highly qualified candidate pool

Sponsoring Tier 2 migrants: A quick guide to accessing a highly qualified candidate pool

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Yulia Gutkovich, Immigration Advisor at Redfern Legal LLP has put together a quick guide to visa sponsorship as an employer. Tier 2 candidates make up a talented and wide pool on movemeon & outside the platform, so we hope you find it easier to accept their applications after reading this guide. We recommend that you also consult an immigration lawyer if your team has never provided visa sponsorship before.

Are you missing out on great candidates just because you are worried about the visa sponsorship process? Did you know that in 2016/17 alone, more than 56,000 Tier 2 skilled work visas were granted in the UK (97% success rate) with over half of applicants holding advanced degrees and significant experience in technology, finance and insurance? Tapping into this highly qualified, multi-lingual and multi-cultural pool is easier than you think.

Looking at the list of available jobs on Movemeon, all of which require high levels of qualifications and top-notch credentials, I was surprised to find out that many companies decide that “No sponsorship is available” despite already having a licence to sponsor Tier 2 migrants. I’ve decided to write this guide to help employers better understand the process and make an educated decision about sponsorship.

Below I have outlined key required steps to sponsor an employee from non-EEA country or Switzerland. The lengthiest of these is the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT), but in some cases, it is actually not required, and in others, it could be significantly shortened by taking a few simple steps when advertising the position.

Step 1: Make sure that your company holds a valid Tier 2 sponsorship licence

You can check the Register of Sponsors here 

Your company needs to have a Tier 2 ICT licence where the salary will be £73,900 or more or a Tier 2 (General) licence where the salary will be in accordance with the SOC code (see below) to sponsor new employees. If your company doesn’t have a sponsorship licence, note that it might take 3-4 months to acquire one. You can find more details on the process here 

Step 2: Identify the SOC code into which the position falls and the minimum salary that has been offered for that type of role.

The Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) is a method the Government uses for classifying jobs according to their titles and activities. Each job type is assigned a number. The Home Office uses it to assign different rules on minimum salaries to different jobs. You will find SOC in Appendix J to the immigration rules here.

For example, if you are recruiting a Business development manager, the appropriate SOC is 3545 and the minimum salary for an experienced hire is at least £33,300 per annum. It is recommended to consult an immigration lawyer concerning the correct SOC code.

Step 3: RLMT

In most cases, you must advertise the position you want to recruit for to allow settled UK workers a chance to apply. However, in some cases, RLMT is not required if:

  • A job you want to fill is in a shortage occupation list (see Appendix K of the Immigration Rules). For example, IT product managers with at least 5 years’ of experience, including team leadership;
  • A person who is already in the UK, was (or will be) awarded a UK recognised bachelor’s or master’s degree and is applying to switch into Tier 2 (General) from Tier 4 (Student visa);
  • The total salary package for the job will be £159,600 or above.

For every job where RLMT is required, you must place two advertisements for at least 28 days. In many cases, one of those must be an online advertisement using the Universal Jobmatch service (https://www.gov.uk/advertise-job) and an additional medium (for example, a website of a prominent professional or recruitment organisation, which does not charge a fee to job seekers to view job advertisements or to apply for jobs via those advertisements). It is recommended to consult an immigration lawyer before placing the ads, to make sure that the job description complies with the advertisement requirements see Tiers 2 and 5: guidance for sponsors for more details

Step 4: Choose the best fit for the role

Interview candidates as you would do for any other position, but make sure to record your interview notes, reasons for acceptance or rejection of the candidate. Did you find that your best candidate requires sponsorship? Make them an offer conditional on a successful visa application, pay the immigration skills charge, issue them with a Certificate of Sponsorship, and ask the candidate to apply for a Tier 2 visa.

Provided you have properly completed the RLMT process as described above, the visa application is likely to take up to 8 weeks (similar to a typical notice period) depending on availability of appointments at the Home Office and the selected type of service. An applicant may also apply for 10 days priority postal and same day premium service.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances and no legal liability to any person is accepted by the author or Redfern Legal on the basis of this note.

 For more information, feel free to contact me:

Yulia Gutkovich, Immigration Advisor at Redfern Legal


Information and Communication sector : 5,884 Tier 2 visas; Financial and Insurance sector: 1,478 (2017 Q1)


There are several additional exemptions from RLMT like Tier 2 extensions when individuals move from old-style work permits as Tier 1 (Post-study work) or Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur).

You can find the full PDF version below

Sponsoring Tier 2 migrants a Quick Start guide

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