If an employer in the UK wishes to employ skilled workers from outside the EEA as Tier 2 migrants they must first of all acquire a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence from the Home Office.
The Tier 2 Sponsor Licence application consists of two parts: firstly an online application and, secondly, the submission to the Home Office of various documents about the organisation: documents that show that the organisation is respectable, that it has taken out the required types of insurance, that it is correctly registered for taxes, and so on.
The Home Office are notoriously fussy about sponsor licence applications and in many cases, as part of the licence application process, they visit the organisation’s premises and audit it, particularly in regard to the HR systems and whether they are sufficiently robust to manage non-EEA workers. The Home Office auditors are very particular about this issue.
If the sponsor licence application is successful the employer may then be able to employ non-EEA skilled workers as Tier 2 migrants, but the system is quite complex. The Tier 2 Sponsor Licence provides an online sponsorship management system (SMS). The employer must use the SMS to create a “certificate of sponsorship” (which is an online virtual document) for a potential migrant, and once this has been successfully achieved the migrant will need to make a Tier 2 visa application. Only once the visa has been granted will the migrant be able to work for the employer as a Tier 2 migrant.
As part of the process, in many cases the employer will have to advertise the relevant positon, in order to ensure that a Tier 2 migrant is not filling a vacancy that could have been filled with a worker from the UK workforce.
Indeed, the whole Tier 2 scheme is designed around this principle, and when applying for the Sponsor Licence it is very important for the employer to establish that they will only be sponsoring and employing Tier 2 migrants in situations where they could not find sufficiently qualified or experienced candidates in the UK workforce, and they are required to keep good evidence about this.
Please note that the above is a very simple and basic guide, and that the Tier 2 scheme has some considerable complexities.