The Skilled Worker visa is the primary route for international workers to enter the UK. Much like it's predecessor, the Tier 2 visa, this route is sponsored and the University must meet certain requirments before we can offer an individual sponsorship.
A Skilled Worker visa is granted by the Home Office when:
an appointment meets the sponsorship requirements set out below;
- the hiring manager has submitted a request for sponsorship to Human Resources;
- Human Resources provide a Certificate of Sponsorship;
- A visa application is submitted by the sponsored individual which meets the Home Office eligibility requirements
Requirements For Sponsorship
The Skilled Worker route no longer requires a Resident Labour Market Test to be conducted before sponsorship can be considered but all recruitment must be in line with the Queen Mary's recruitment and selection policy. All post should be advertised for at least 14 days and evidence of the shortlisting and interview process must be uploaded to igrasp before an offer is authorised.
In order to apply for a Skilled Worker visa the individual will require a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). This is an electronic document issued by the Home Office. It is the responsibility of the hiring department, not the individual, to request a Certificate of Sponsorship from Human Resources.
Below is an overview of the requirements for sponsorship under the Skilled Worker route.
A genuine vacancy is when the:
individual performs the specific duties and responsibilities listed on the job profile;
- role does not include dissimilar or predominately lower skilled duties;
The Home Office will consider a role to not be a genuine vacancy where:
- the duties in the job description have been exaggerated or incorrectly listed in order to make the role look like it is eligible for sponsorship;
- the job adverts have requirements that are inappropriate for the job, for example a language skill which is not relevant;
- the job has been primarily created to enable an overseas worker to come the UK.
It is essential that all jobs meet these requirements before sponsorship is considered, a breach would put Queen Mary at risk of losing its sponsorship license.
It is important that the job profile accurately reflects the requirements of the role, and that the applicant's qualifications, skills and experience meet the selection criteria detailed.
It is not possible to sponsor an applicant who does not hold the qualifications required as described in the job profile, as they would not be considered to be suitably qualified to take up the role.
To ensure consistency and compliance, four clearly defined options are provided below for listing the qualifications required for any role, along with the evidence that must be submitted to Human Resources with a Skilled Worker CoS application form.
The role must be considered to be skilled to at least A-Level or equivalent.
The Home Office maintains a list of occupations for which sponsorship can be provided, these occupations are listed in Appendix: Skilled Occupations.
The main duties detailed on the job profile for the role are compared to this list to identify the correct occupation. It is not based on the job title, but the actual activities the role will entail. Human Resources will be able to confirm the standard occupational classification (SOC) code that is appropriate for any particular role.
A copy of the job profile should be provided to Human Resources before a role is advertised to enable an assessement of its suitablilty for sponsorship. Hiring managers are not expected to review all the codes, but their input may be requested. Human Resources will make the final decision on what code is appropriate to ensure consistency across the University.
An offer of employment should not be made to an individual who may require sponsorship until Human Resources have confirmed that both the role and the individual are eligible for sponsorship.
The below is provided for information only, though it is expected that most jobs will meet the above salary requirements there may be a need to consider the option of using tradeable points.
Human Resources will raise and discuss these issues when reviewing any applications where tradeable points may need to be relied on.
Each SOC code has a “going rate” that is based on Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) data. Each salary listed in Appendix: Skilled Occupations is based on a 39-hour working week which may be pro-rated for other working patterns.
The salary paid must be meet the greater of the minimum salary threshold, £25,600, or the “going rate” for the chosen SOC code.
Where Less can be Paid
It is possible to pay between 70% and 90% of the usual “going rate” for a job. The salary payable must be at least £20,480 per year and one of the following criteria must be met:
- the job is in a shortage occupation;
- the applicant is a new entrant to the job market; they must be either under 26, studying or a recent graduate, or in professional training;
- the applicant has a science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) PhD level qualification that’s relevant to the job (if the relevant PhD level qualification in any other subject the salary must be at least £23,040);
- the job is a postdoctoral position in science or higher education.
The Government maintains a shortage occupation list containing skilled jobs where there is a shortage of workers in the UK. If the job is on the shortage occupation list, a salary of 80% of the job’s usual “going rate” can be paid.
Individuals can be sponsored as a ‘New Entrant’ for up to a maximum of 4 years if
- they are under the age 26 when applying
- they hold or last held (within the past 2 years) a Student (Tier 4) visa and they have completed a UK bachelor, masters degree, or at least 12 months study towards a UK PhD.
- the job offer is a postdoctoral position in codes including 2311 for higher education teaching professionals or 2119 used by the University for all postdoctoral researcher positions
- they are switching within the UK from a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa
New Entrants must be paid 70% of the "going rate" or £20,480 per year, whichever is higher.
Only select jobs will be able to make use of the relevant PhD salary discount. If your job is on this list and the salary is less than the required minimum then you will need to provide details of how the individual’s PhD is relevant to the role.
Only guaranteed basic gross pay can be relied upon to meet the salary requirements. Allowances cannot be included.
It can be more difficult for sponorship to be provided for part-time appointments. The part-time salary must meet the absolute minimum salary threshold of £25,600, £20,480 for a new entrant, or £23,040/£20,480 if tradeable points are available. Please do get in touch with Human Resources to discuss specific cases.
There are two types of Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS):
- Defined, for those who are applying on a Skilled Worker visa from outside the UK.
- Undefined, for Skilled Workers applying from inside the UK, and applicants on all other visas.
Defined Certificates of Sponsorship
The University must make an appliciation to the Home Office for a defined CoS when you wish to employ an individual who is not based in the UK.
HR will make an application to the Home Office for a defined CoS on your behalf. Once submitted a CoS application will be assessed by the Home Office a decision will usually be made within 48 hours of submission.
Undefined Certificates of Sponsorship
The University may issue an undefined Certificate of Sponsorship where you wish to employ an indiviual who is based in the UK in an eligible visa category.
We can issue an undefined CoS in the following circumstances:
- Switching immigration category: Where an individual who is already in the UK under another immigration category is eligible to switch to a Skilled Worker visa.
- Extensions: Where you need to extend leave for an individual who is already in the UK working for you and has or was last granted leave under Tier 2 (General) or as a Skilled Worker.
- Changes of employment (1): A current University employee who was last granted leave under Tier 2 (General) or Skilled Worker and who wants to change to a new job which falls in a different SOC code.*
- Changes of employment (2): An individual who was last granted leave under Tier 2 (General) or Skilled Worker while sponsored by a different UK employer, who wants to start a new job at the University (Please note: this does not include employees transferring to the University under TUPE – seek advice from HR in such cases).*
*Please note: where an individual is making a change of employment application, in either of the above scenarios, they cannot start the new job until their Skilled Worker visa has been issued.
The University has an annual fixed allocation and can make a CoS application at any time. All necessary documents pertaining to sponsorship should be sent to HR to ensure that a timely application can be made.
To request a Certificate of Sponsorship the hiring manager will need to complete the Skilled Worker CoS Application Form [hyperlink].
The Skilled Worker CoS application form, which must be fully completed and submitted to Human Resources, lays out the required information and documentation that will allow the Univeristy to demonstrate to the Home Office that the requirements of sponsorship have been met. Incomplete application forms will be rejected and returned, this will delay the sponsorship process.
Once Human Resources are satisfied all the Home Office requirements have been met, a Skilled Worker Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) will be issued in line with the contract of employment. The Skilled Worker CoS can be issued for either up to 3 years or up to 5 years in the first instance.
During sponsorship it is important that changes to a Skilled Worker visa holders employment is reported to Human Resources.
There are costs associated with sponsoring any individual which are payable by the hiring department.
- Each Certificate of Sponsorship will cost £199.
- The Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) is payable for some positions. The cost will be:
- £364 for any stated period of employment up to 12 months, plus
- £182 for each subsequent 6-month period stated on the CoS
Please Note: The cost of sponsorship is not a valid reason to reject an individual for a position. All candidates should be assessed on the merit of their application alone. Rejection of a candidate on the basis of cost would leave the University open to a claim of indirect discrimination under the Equality Act (2010).
Exemptions to the Certificate of Sponsorship fee
Nationals from countries who have ratified the Council of Europe’s Social Charter of 1961 will be exempt from the £199 fee for a Certificate of Sponsorship.
Austria; Belgium; Croatia; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Denmark; Finland; France; Germany; Greece; Hungary; Iceland; Italy; Latvia; Luxembourg; Malta; Netherlands; North Macedonia; Norway; Poland; Portugal; Slovak Republic; Spain; Sweden; Turkey
Exemptions to the Immigration Skills Charge
You will be exempt from the ISC if:
- you are employing someone who is switching into the Skilled Worker route from Tier 4 or the Student route;
- you are employing someone in a PhD level SOC code;
- you are employing an overseas worker for less than 6 months; or
- you are extending the visa of an exempt employee.
The Home Office requires all organisations that sponsor employees, including the Queen Mary, to keep certain records and report particular changes to them.
While the sponsored individual has a duty to keep the University updated, the University also has a duty to maintain these details and report any changes. As the manager of a sponsored worker, you are responsible for ensuring that the University is meeting our reporting and recording duties as described below:
Please ensure that you (or the sponsored employee that reports to you, where appropriate) tell Human Resources immediately if:
- The sponsored individual does not arrive to start work on the first day of employment, and the reason if known (e.g. a missed flight).
- They take unauthorised absence for more than ten consecutive working days.
- If significant changes to their employment are being planned or considered. For example, change of role, job title, duties, hours or salary (except for annual increments and cost of living) or TUPE transfer. Depending on the change, we may have to notify or seek approval from the Home Office before it can take place.
- If the University is no longer required to sponsor the individual. For example, because:
- Their contract of employment has been terminated for any reason (including resignation)
- They wish to take more than one month’s unpaid leave (other than maternity, paternity, adoption or sick leave)
- They have changed immigration status (for example, obtained indefinite leave to remain, acquired British Citizenship or moved to an immigration tier that does not require a Sponsor). You must see documentary evidence (passport stamp and/or letter from the Home Office) of any change in immigration status and send copy to the Compliance Team (with printed name, signature and date).
The University must also keep up-to-date records of sponsored individuals’ contact details and when they are absent from work, which means that we need you to:
- Remind the individual to inform your departmental administrator immediately if you are aware that their contact details (including home address, home telephone number or mobile telephone number) are changing. Alternatively, they can update their own details on MyHR which is found at https://myhr.qmul.ac.uk/dashboard/dashboard-ui/index.html#/landing
- Ensure that the individual follows your department/institution’s procedure for booking annual leave and their leave is always recorded, using the method that has been agreed locally.
- Ensure that the individual contacts you (or other appropriate person in your department/institution) if you they need to be absent from work for any other reason (e.g. sickness, bereavement) and that their absence is always recorded. Either you or a designated person in your department/institution must record sickness absence on MyHR; please ensure you know what your local arrangements for this are.
- Following discussions with the Home Office, it is no longer necessary for the University to keep records of the whereabouts of sponsored individuals in PhD level roles who are working away from their usual place of work. This exception does not extend to those in non-PhD level roles. In these circumstances, departments are asked to ensure that they know where their sponsored individuals are at all times, and to keep a record of all absences exceeding a day, including time working away from Queen Mary.
Failure to comply with this could result in our licence being revoked, suspended or downgraded to a B-rating, and/or a reduction to the number of CoS the University is allowed to assign.
If the University loses its licence, it will no longer be able to sponsor individuals as Skilled or Temporary Workers under the points-based immigration system and all existing sponsored employees would have their leave curtailed.