Employing non-EEA or Swiss Candidates in the UK

employing skilled workers from outside the UK

Employing candidates from outside the UK is a great way for many employers to fill skilled positions which may be more difficult to fill with UK nationals. Positions such as healthcare professionals, science & research jobs, multi-language service jobs, sports and entertainment roles, may attract candidates from other countries that have a more niche skillset or specialist training.

Before seeking to employ non-EEA or Swiss candidates, you need to ensure you are eligable to employ them.

Free movement will cease at the end of this year, and Brexit will commence from the 1st January 2021. From this date forward, employers who are looking to hire a new non-EEA or Swiss citizens will have to follow the post-Brexit immigration system. As for new non-UK employees, each job applicant will need to apply for a work permit and visa before they can work in the UK.

You can choose to complete the applications yourself, however, by working with specialist immigration solicitors, you can ensure you are complying with the latest legal requirements.

Sponsor license

Employers will need to apply for a sponsor license when recruiting workers outside the UK. There are currently two types of sponsor license available. The tier 2 license applies to long term job offers in various sectors including general work, health care, Intra company transfer, sportsperson and minister of religion. The second type of license is tier 5, which is specifically for temporary employment.


Sponsor licenses are only eligible to employers who do not have any unspent criminal convictions and have no involvement in certain crimes such as money laundering or fraud.

Applying for a sponsor license

Once you have confirmed you’re eligible, you can apply for a sponsor license by completing an online application form and submitting the required proof and documents. The application also comes with a fee and may take up to three weeks to get your result.

Once your application is successful, you can start recruiting skilled workers outside the UK, and this includes non EEA and Swiss candidates.

Sponsorship requirements from skilled workers

When sponsoring a skilled worker outside the UK, you’ll need to be aware of the requirements. The English language is one of the required skills. Applicants must be able to speak English at a skill level of RQF3, the equivalent to an A-level. The employer must also provide a minimum salary of £25,600 per annum. Minimum rules for wages may sometimes vary depending on the type of job.

Tier 2 Visa Example

To give you an example of how a tier 2 visa works, we’re going to cover the general work visa. This visa is available to non-UK applicants who have been offered a skilled job in the UK. Only a licensed sponsor can employ a non-UK citizen in the UK.

The sponsor will also have to attain a certificate of sponsorship before hiring an applicant. The certificate will prove the applicant is suited for the job and qualified to apply for the visa. Applicants with an approved tier 2 visa can come and stay in the UK for a maximum of five years and fourteen days. Extended visas for up to five years is also available to non-UK workers who are already on the tier 2 visa.

Another example of a tier 2 visa includes the health care visa which only applies to non-UK workers who have been offered a health care job from the NHS. They must be fully qualified in their job role, whether they are a nurse, doctor, or a health professional. Applicants can only apply for this visa once a licensed sponsor has confirmed their eligibility to apply.

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