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Recruitment Guidance

Employing individuals from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) is a complex process. It involves numerous procedures that must be followed precisely to ensure that Queen Mary complies with UK immigration legislation.

Under the UK Points Based Immigration system, two categories are available for non-EEA nationals to allow them to work in the UK. 

Tier 2

Tier 2 is the main category for skilled workers to enter the UK.  In order to be eligible to employ a prospective employee on a Tier 2 visa numerous procedures must be followed precisely.  HR will check any job offer made to an individual who requires a UK visa to ensure that the recruitment has met our obligations for sponsorship. 

Failure to provide the correct evidence can delay or stop us from employing an Non-EEA national. 

The job must meet the minimum skill level and salary requirements;

In order to be eligible for sponsorship the minimum skill level for the job must be degree level or above. To be eligible the job must be matched against an applicable “Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) Code” as confirmation that it meets the minimum skill level.

The SOC Code must be identified prior to recruitment taking place. The minimum salary level for 'new entrants' is £20,800, and for 'experienced workers' is £30,000. There will be variations between SOC codes but the minimum will be the higher of the listed figure or the default minimums.

You can find the full details of the SOC Codes and the relevant minimum salary requirements in Appendix J of the Immigration Rules.

Academic and Research vacancies

Where an appointment is made to an Academic or Research role, such vacancies will commonly be classified within a PhD level SOC Code (Please note: there is no requirement for those working in a PhD level SOC code to actually hold a PhD. It simply means that the work the person will do is skilled to that level).

Academic roles will commonly be classified within SOC Code '2311: Higher Education Teaching Professionals'.

Note: They may also be eligble for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visa.

Research Directors will commonly be classified within SOC Code '2150: Research and Development Managers'

Researchers can be classified in any of the following applicable SOC Codes:

  • 2111 Chemical Scientists
  • 2112 Biological Scientists and Biochemists
  • 2113 Physical Scientists
  • 2114 Social and Humanities Scientists
  • 2119 Natural and Social Science Professionals not elsewhere classified

The Resident Labour Market Test 

Before advertising a vacany, consideration should be given to whether the post may attract candidates from outside the EEA.  If so, Queen Mary must meet the specific requirements that will allow us to offer sponsorship to candidates from outside the EEA.  Before a Non-EEA candidate can be considered for a role Queen Mary must have demonstrated that we have tried to recruit from within the population of settled workers. This is known as carrying out the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT). 

The Resident Labour Market Test requires all jobs to be advertised on a least two approved websites including the Job Centre Plus website, Find a Job.  All adverts must be listed for a minimum of 28 days.  The purpose of the RLMT is to protect the settled workforce. 

Exemptions do apply in some cases such as switching from a Tier 4 student visa, supernumerary research positions or continuing to work for the University in the same occupation.  

The rules concerning the selection process must have been followed

It is essential that Hiring Managers fully evidence the recruitment process in order to meet statutory requirements. Only objective information should be used in the decision making process and those decisions must be justified, fair and evidence based. If the recruitment process were to be challenged, it is the responsibility of the Chair of the interview panel to demonstrate that discrimination has not occurred. 

The collection of correct evidence is also important to enable Queen Mary to sponsor non-EEA staff.  Detailed shortlisting and interview notes are a crucial requirement for the Government’s Resident Labour Market Test.  Failure to provide detailed notes throughout the recruitment process will hinder our ability to sponsor new staff members. 

Example forms are available on the HR Website

To obtain the Tier 2 visa, the individual must be eligible to apply

If an individual has previously been sponsored under Tier 2 in the UK by another employer and subsequently left the UK, a cooling off period may apply to them. The individual may be required to wait for 12 months to apply to re-enter the UK. The 12 months would be from either the date their previous visa expired or, if earlier, the date they left the UK.

A Certificate of Sponsorship is assigned to a prospective employee once a job offer has been made and is used for their Tier 2 visa application. A CoS can be assigned for either 3 years or a maximum of 5 years. If the job is a fixed term contract, the Certificate of Sponsorship will be assigned for the same duration as the contract. A sponsored employee can only hold a Tier 2 visa for a maximum of 6 years after which time they should apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.

A Certificate of Sponsorship must be obtained from Human Resources;

Queen Mary will make an application to the Home Office for a Certificate of Sponsorship. Applications are accessed each month and must demonstrate that they have met the requisite criteria for sponsorship. There are two types of Certificates of Sponsorship, restricted and unrestricted, the location of the applicant will determine how they are applied. 

In order to sponsor someone a Certificate of Sponsorship must be issued within the following timeframes: 

  • For non-PhD level roles, the Certificate of Sponsorship must be assigned to the individual within six months of the date the advert went live.
  • For PhD level roles, the Certificate of Sponsorship must be assigned to the individual within twelve months of the date the advert went live. 

Applying from outside the UK

When an applicant is apply from outside the UK they will require a restricted Certificate of Sponsorship. There is a limited number of restricted certificates available each month. Each application is assessed using a points system - you can see how the system works in the Immigration Rules appendix A.

The following applicants are included in the annual limit and must be issued with an RCoS:

  • New out of country applicants filling a vacancy with an annual salary under £155,300.
  • Tier 4 dependants switching into Tier 2 in their own right (both in and out of country)

Applications are considered on the first working day after the 10th day of the month. This is called the ‘allocation date’. If an application is made after the 5th day of the month then it will be held until the next month’s allocation date.

An application may also be held until the next month’s allocation date so that the details of the application can be checked.

Applying from Inside the UK

Individuals who are already in the UK are able to to switch into Tier 2 from a range of visa categories some of which include Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 4 (except further education students) and dependent partner of a Tier 4 visa holder.  It should be noted that Tier 2 visas are not transferable, an individual on a Tier 2 visa with another employer will need to apply for a new visa to work at Queen Mary. 

Queen Mary has an annual allocation of unrestricted CoS, which may be issued at any time but only to the following applicants:

  • In country applicants whose contracts are being extended
  • In country applicants who are subject to transitional arrangements as a Tier 2 or work permit holder
  • In country applicants changing employment within Queen Mary where the new job is in a different SOC code; or moving from another employer and starting work for Queen Mary
  • In country applicants switching from another eligible immigration category into Tier 2
  • Croatian nationals
  • High earners (both in and out of country)

Certificate of Sponsorship is assigned to a prospective employee once a job offer has been made and is used for their Tier 2 visa application.  A CoS can be assigned for either 3 years or a maximum of 5 years.  If the job is a fixed term contract, the CoS will be assigned for the same duration as the contract.  A sponsored migrant can only hold a Tier 2 visa for a maximum of 6 years (including sponsorship with a previous employer) after which time they should apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.

If the certificate of sponsorship is granted then we will be able to assign it to the individual so that they can make a visa application.  Visa applications can take some time to be processed, please bear this in mind when selecting a start date for the individual. 

The individual must make a successful application for a visa;

The individual must meet the necessary criteria to obtain a visa under Tier 2, they must score 70 points against three requirements.

  • 50 points for attributes. 
  • 10 points for English language. If you are not a national of an English majority speaking country, you will need to provide valid evidence of your knowledge of English.
  • 10 points for maintenance.

Please Note: A certificate of sponsorship is not a guarantee of a successful visa application.

Prior to commencement of employment and throughout employment, Queen Mary must comply with the sponsor duties.

As an A-rated Sponsor Queen Mary is able to sponsor skilled workers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA).  In order to maintain this rating we must fulfill our obligations to the Home Office and ensure that sponsored staff are complying with their visa conditions.  

HR will work with departments and sponsored employees to ensure that these obligations are met. 

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