Home Office warns UK firms to prepare to hire EU staff post-Brexit

With just a few weeks until free movement ends, UK firms need to apply for a Sponsor Licence if they want to hire EU workers.

From next year, all UK businesses who wish to employ new workers from the EU must receive approval from the Home Office.

With less than three months until freedom of movement ends, hundreds of thousands of businesses may still not be ready to sponsor employers from abroad. The Home Office has recently launched a nationwide marketing campaign to remind UK businesses of the importance of applying for a Sponsor Licence, to hire EU workers.


The campaign, set to persuade businesses to get ready for the new immigration system, will run throughout Autumn via a wide range of channels. This includes radio, outdoor advertising and social media, to target all employers who are yet to become sponsors.

In an attempt to provide support on the new system, the Home Office has lowered the minimum skills and salary thresholds. A Home Office spokesman said:


We are also introducing special schemes to enable more scientists, academics, investors, entrepreneurs, and health and care workers to come to the UK easily and are reviewing the recommendations of the independent Migration Advisory Committee on the shortage occupation list so that the government can work with sectors to fill roles quickly where shortages may occur.”


How to apply for a UK Sponsor Licence

Home Office’s figures reveal that so far only 29,514 businesses in the UK are registered to sponsor applicants on Tier 2 visas. This means that hundreds of thousands of enterprises may still be unprepared to employ new EU workers entering the country at the end of the year.

It takes up to 6 to 8 weeks for the Home Office to process an application for a sponsor licence. Besides, it may take additional time to prepare an adequate bundle of supporting documents to submit along with the application forms. This means that the majority of UK businesses must start their sponsor licence application process now, or they may be caught out when the UK leaves the EU on 1st January 2021.


Employers who already hold a sponsor licence

The new immigration system will not apply to EU citizens who began their residence in the UK before 31st December 2020, and who submitted their application under the EU Settlement Scheme before 30th June 2021. UK employers should ensure that their EU workers apply to the Scheme while still available, provided that they meet the eligibility requirements.

Existing Tier 2 sponsors will automatically be granted with a new licence, which can be used to employ skilled workers from the EU.


If your sponsor licence has expired

Your sponsor licence will expire on the date written on the summary page of the Sponsor Management System (SMS).

If you need to apply for a Sponsor Licence renewal, you can submit your request up to three months before the expiry date. You can apply within the SMS, and the Home Office will start evaluating your case after you pay the appropriate fee.

It is recommended to apply for a Sponsor Licence extension as soon as possible. If your renewal is rejected prior to your first licence expiry date, you will still be able to submit a new application and hire international workers until a decision has been reached.