By Teni Shahiean, of OTS Solicitors
Teni Shahiean is a founding partner at OTS Solicitors. She has a wealth of experience in Business Immigration law, commercial law and employment law and regularly advises businesses on Sponsor Licence acquisition and compliance. Teni is also regularly called on to provide expert opinion on television and print media, both in the UK and internationally.
I regularly receive instructions from clients to help them retain talented staff who have entered the UK on a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa. And for good reason. The applicants are usually university graduates from countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Korea and Japan. They are smart, work hard and well-travelled. They have often become a key member of my client’s team.
Problems arise because a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa only lasts for two years. After that, unless their employee can switch to another visa, they must leave the country, which can be disastrous for an employer who has come to value their skills and rely on them.
OTS Solicitors is a Legal 500 recommended law firm and has won numerous other awards for our immigration service (Including a Global Excellence Award for the Most Trusted in Immigration law). My colleagues and I have successfully assisted many business and Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa holders. We help the former retain talented employees and the latter to stay in the UK for a few more years (and some even permanently through acquiring Indefinite Leave to Remain).
When taking instructions on these types of cases, it is imperative to understand not only the requirements of the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa but how an employer can obtain a UK Sponsor Licence to enable them to sponsor their employee on a Tier 2 (General) Visa.
Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa
The Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa is open to citizens of:
- New Zealand
- Hong Kong
- The Republic of Korea
British overseas citizens, British Overseas Territories citizens and British overseas nationals can also apply.
Applicants must be aged between 18 and 30 and have £1,890 in savings.
Citizens of Hong Kong and the Republic of Korea must obtain a Certificate of Sponsorship reference number before they can apply. I will discuss certificates of sponsorship further on.
If an applicant is successful in obtaining a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa, they can study at most institutions, work in most professions or be self-employed (as long as your premises are rented, your equipment isn’t worth more than £5,000, and you don’t have any employees).
Family members cannot apply to come with you on a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa; they must apply separately.
Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visas expire after two years. There is no option to extend. Applicants must either find a UK employer to sponsor them and switch to a Tier 2 visa or leave the country.
UK Sponsor Licences
Most employers Sponsor Licence have very little idea of what is involved. As a highly-ranked Legal 500 Immigration law firm, we provide expert advice to employers on not only how to obtain a UK Sponsor Licence, but how to meet the extensive compliance requirements to prevent the licence being downgraded, suspended or revoked.
If you are an employer and wish to obtain a UK Sponsor Licence so you can retain your Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa employee, you must follow a strict application process which is outlined below:
- decide the immigration categories and tiers you wish to include on your UK Sponsor Licence
- review your HR systems and ensure your business is capable of complying with the duties and responsibilities of a Sponsor Licence holder
- decide which members of staff will be appointed as Key Personnel (our solicitors can carry out this function if you prefer)
- collate the correct documents needed to submit with the application
- decide on the number of certificates of sponsorship you wish to apply for in the first year
- submit the online application and hard-copy documents to the Home Office
- prepare for a Home Office visit (if requested)
- receive your Sponsor Licence
The Resident Labour Market Test
Obtaining an A-rated Sponsor Licence is not the end of the process to retain an employee whose Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa is about to expire. To recruit a non-EEA national for the position occupied by the current employee, the job will need to be featured on the UK Shortage Occupation List. If it is not, you will need to conduct a Resident Labour Market Test to assess whether any EEA citizens can fill the position.
The Resident Labour Market Test must be done correctly. Failure to do so could result in your licence being suspended or revoked. An >immigration lawyer can provide you with the best advice on how to conduct a compliant Resident Labour Market Test.
Once you have received your UK Sponsor Licence, and have completed a Resident Labour Market Test, you may be able to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship to your staff member who currently holds a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa. They will then be able to apply for a Tier 2 (General) Visa which will last for five years.
OTS success stories
We recently advised a client who was keen to retain a key employee whose Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa was about to expire. We partnered with the company, helping them successfully apply for a UK Sponsor Licence and run a compliant Resident Labour Market Test. In addition, we continue to work with the organisation’s HR team on an ongoing basis, ensuring the Sponsor Management System is kept up-to-date, and all Home Office duties and responsibilities are complied with and conduct bi-annual mock audits to ensure the client’s HR systems will pass any unannounced Home Office visit.
To find out how we can help you retain talented employees by obtaining a UK Sponsor Licence, please call us on 0207 936 9960.
OTS Solicitors is one of the most respected immigration law firms in London and is Legal 500 leading firm. By making an appointment with one of our Business Immigration solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available in the UK today.