Freedom of movement between the UK and EU ended on 1 January 2021 and the UK implemented a points-based immigration system. The system has skill, salary and language requirements that change the way you hire from outside the UK. This does not apply to Irish citizens.

The system allows UK employers to sponsor and recruit skilled workers from around the world through a variety of immigration routes.

Some immigration routes, such as Global Talent and the Graduate visa are ‘unsponsored’. You don’t need a licence to hire employees with an unsponsored visa.

The points-based immigration system does not apply to EU, EEA and Swiss citizens who:

  • have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme
  • applied to the EU Settlement Scheme on or before 30 June 2021, and have not got a decision yet

If an EU citizen has reasonable grounds for being unable to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme by 30 June 2021, they will be given a further opportunity to apply.

Read the Right to work checks employer’s guide for information on what to do in this situation.


How to become a sponsor

Before applying to be a sponsor you should:

  • check that the people you want to hire will meet the requirements for coming to the UK for work
  • check your business is eligible

To apply, you will need to:

  1. choose the type of skilled worker licence you want to apply for
  2. put appropriate processes in place to act as a sponsor
  3. apply online and pay the fee

You should allow 8 weeks for your sponsor licence registration to be processed. A licence will then be valid up to 4 years from the date of approval.

As a licensed sponsor, you’ll be able to hire eligible employees from anywhere in the world. Apply today.

Who you can hire as a sponsor

To hire someone from outside the UK, excluding Irish citizens, the job you are advertising must meet the minimum skill and salary thresholds:

  • the minimum skill level will be set at RQF3 (equivalent to A level)
  • the minimum salary threshold will be the higher of £25,600 or the ‘going rate’ for that job – some employees may be paid less than £25,600, for example if their job is in a shortage occupation
  • applicants must also meet English language requirements

If the above requirements are met and you are a licensed sponsor, you may be able to sponsor their application to come to the UK to work.

Right to work checks for EU citizens

You need to check an EU job applicant’s right to work online using:

  • a share code
  • their date of birth

As of 1 July 2021, you can no longer accept an EU citizen’s passport or ID card alone as evidence of their right to work.

You don’t have to undertake retrospective checks on EU citizens who were employed on or before 30 June 2021.

Read the guide on how EU, EEA and Swiss citizens can view and prove their immigration status (eVisa).

Irish citizens can continue to use their passport or passport card to prove their right to work.

Watch this video on the right to work check process.


Further information