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Guidance for UK employers of non-EEA students

Information correct as of May 2019.

Tier 2 (General) sponsorship

Any organisation that has successfully applied for a Tier 2 sponsorship licence can recruit a non-European Economic Area (EEA) national studying full time in the UK.  

There are certain concessions in Tier 2 policy that support employers in recruiting and sponsoring non-EEA graduates who are in the UK under a Tier 4 student visa : 

  • Exemption from carrying out the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) which requires the job to be advertised in a certain way to ensure there are no suitable workers already living permanently in the UK. 
  • The issuing of a Certificate of Sponsorship is unrestricted (i.e. not subject to the annual limit). 
  • Exemption from paying the immigration skills charge. 
  • Can use ‘new entrant’ minimum salary level as outlined in Appendix J: code of practice for skilled work.

These concessions apply if the prospective employee has valid Tier 4 leave and is applying from inside the UK having successfully completed an undergraduate or postgraduate degree OR is applying no more than three months before the expected completion date of their degree OR has completed at least 12 months of a PhD.  

Students who have received their final results can start the job for which the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) was assigned once they have submitted their Tier 2 application to UKVI. 

What is Tier 2 sponsorship?

The UK’s immigration system is underpinned by the principle of sponsorship. Organisations who wish to employ nationals from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) can sponsor their visa under Tier 2 of the points-based system.

Can an organisation sponsor anyone to work under Tier 2?

The Tier 2 route is for skilled non-EEA workers with an offer of a specific role with a particular employer who has a Tier 2 sponsor licence. The job must be at ‘graduate level’ according to the Home Office and meet minimum level salary requirements for that particular occupation. The Immigration Rules Appendix J: codes of practice for skilled work outlines the types of role considered by the Home Office to be at ‘graduate level’ and the salary requirements.

How does an organisation obtain permission to sponsor under Tier 2?

A Tier 2 sponsor licence issued by the Home Office is required to be able to sponsor an employee under Tier 2. Applications for a sponsor licence are made online at the Home Office website. The website will have more information about the process of sponsoring a non-EEA individual after the organisation has obtained a Tier 2 sponsor licence.

The Home Office website will also have more information regarding the costs and obligations to organisations that sponsor a non-EEA individual.