The United Kingdom has long been a target region for global expansion. The overall economy—especially in London—attracts international business across a range of industries. Because of its global business fame, the country receives many immigrants and job seekers through the UK work permit system.
If you plan to send or hire new team members in the UK for your global expansion, here are five things you should know.
1. Brexit Hasn’t Changed The UK Work Permit (Yet)
The United Kingdom formally triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty in March of 2017. This gives the UK two years to negotiate the terms of exit from the European Union. The UK and the rest of the EU have a deadline of March 2019 to figure out what this will impact going forward.
One of the biggest concerns about Brexit is how the immigration system will work regarding residency and work permits. There are many rumors surrounding how the permit system will change. But the only thing we know for sure is that it won’t look like the current system.
However, Brexit is still not a done deal, and the rules for work authorization in the UK have not changed. For now, these rules will remain until Brexit takes effect. With that said, Brexit does not affect nations and individuals outside the EU.
2. UK Work Permits Have Many Different Purposes
The UK divides their visas into five tiers, and each tier has its own rules. It uses a points-based system to assess applicants’ qualification for each tier. The goal is to bring individuals with money or skills to the United Kingdom and contribute to their country. Here are the five tiers and what they do:
- Tier 1: Covers high-value migrants who invest in the UK, start businesses, or fall under the exceptional talent category
- Tier 2: Designed for skilled workers, and covers international transfers, ministers of religion, performers, athletes, and fields in which there is a lack of local talent
- Tier 3: Designed for low-skill workers, but the government has never allocated actual visas to the program.
- Tier 4: Reserved for students who are over 16 and accepted to a registered educational establishment, like a university, may apply for this visa
- Tier 5: Includes everything that isn’t considered above, such as creatives, religious workers, charity workers, and the youth mobility scheme
3. UK Businesses Need Employer Sponsorship Licenses to Hire
Through the UK work permit process, applicants must have a job offer before receiving a work permit for tiers two and five. For a local company to offer a job to someone who lives outside the UK and the EU, that business needs to have an Employer Sponsorship License. The goal behind the Employer Sponsorship License is two-fold: to shift the burden of immigration from the Home Office and to speed the process of hiring workers from overseas.
4. Even Volunteers Need A Work Permit
Both Tiers 2 and 5 govern how some workers enter the country to volunteer for a charity. Tier 2 governs ministers of religion, which covers anyone who is considered a missionary. Tier 5 covers temporary workers who are either charity workers or religious workers.
Even if someone is not getting paid, they need to have a UK work permit and employer sponsorship. Charity workers and organizations also need to prove that the worker will have enough money to live during their stay.
5. Some People Are Exempt from Immigration Control
The UK government has established a small group of people that are completely exempt from immigration control. For the most part, this includes government employees like foreign ministers or diplomats, but it also includes a lengthy list of other organizations.
Exempt persons do not need a visa to enter the UK. However, the government recommends applying for an exempt vignette to speed the process at the border.
Use an Experienced Global Expansion Partner
If you’re interested in hiring in the UK, you have options outside of traditional foreign entity establishment. International PEO (Professional Employer Organization) is an agile way to employ workers in the UK simply and compliantly through an already-established legal presence.