The points-based system has revolutionized the construction industry by making a range of job positions, ranging from entry level to highly skilled roles, eligible for company sponsorship.
A record influx of people from abroad is transforming the UK’s population, with businesses increasingly turning to immigration as an essential means for accessing skilled employees.
Before 2021, construction companies were unable to use immigration systems as most jobs did not meet the criteria for skilled work. This meant sponsoring was mainly possible only in higher-level roles with a professional background. The new 2021 points-based immigration system has lowered the skill threshold for qualifying roles, allowing many more job openings across the construction industry and providing sponsorship opportunities.
Construction companies are embracing the potential of global talent to solve labour shortages. According to CITB, over 250,000 qualified construction workers will be necessary by 2026, leading many firms to consider sponsoring visas for skilled immigrants who can help meet this projected demand.
Sponsoring individuals for the required visa can be a complex undertaking and it is important to know how to navigate through paperwork and legal requirements. Maintaining compliance throughout is also essential, so you don’t run into any issues down the line!
Sponsor Licence Framework
Sponsoring a worker for a visa is a two-step process in which first you have to obtain your sponsor licence. Secondly issue an essential certificate of sponsorship (CoS) that grants employees permission to apply for their work visa.
UK-based construction companies operating as a legitimate business have the opportunity to apply for an official sponsor licence. The application process requires submitting an online form along with at least four corporate documents like PAYE & VAT registration details, proof of lease agreement and bank statements, after which you can submitted your request to the Home Office for consideration. Application process takes no more than eight weeks, but if you need a faster response then the expedited option is available as well.
Once approved, your licence grants you the privilege to provide a CoS for up to four years (renewable). With this document in hand, migrant workers can then take the necessary steps towards obtaining their visa.
Companies should remain aware that compliance with Home Office regulations is a must in order to ensure the proper treatment of migrant workers and uphold fairness within their sponsorship system. Businesses cannot afford to take responsibility lightly, the repercussions of inaction can be dire.
Maintaining a valid corporate license is essential for any business. To stay compliant, companies must ensure they keep the Home Office informed of several key events such as when changing their registered office, adding work locations, acquiring other businesses and with changes to significant personnel – this isn’t an exhaustive list though!
Sponsors have a responsibility to keep the Home Office informed about any changes that affect their workers, such as changed job roles or work locations, long-term medical leave and salary decreases. These obligations form an important part of the sponsorship framework for businesses operating in the UK.
A licence to operate is essential for businesses but comes with responsibility. The Home Office may impose serious sanctions, including complete revocation of the license if licensors fail to meet their obligations such as completing rigorous right-to-work checks on all employees.
Shortage Occupation List
The shortage occupation list is a great resource for employers, as it details jobs that the UK currently has difficulty filling. Those positions have several benefits to hiring organizations; including lower minimum salaries and cheaper visa fees for international hires. Engineering roles are particularly prominent on this list, along with an array of construction-related duties.
Other Visa Options
Individuals seeking to enter the UK may have other visas available, depending on their planned activities and personal situation. Whether it’s for business or pleasure, some people don’t need sponsorship but can still visit as a “business visitor” with certain permitted tasks. For work related activity in the UK, a business visitor visa will grant you permission to engage in tasks such as interacting with colleagues at conferences and meetings; negotiating contracts; inspecting sites of interest; or receiving briefings on British customers.
Consider assessing individuals’ personal circumstances to travel abroad and if they may qualify for a youth mobility visa. Nationals of countries like Australia, Canada or New Zealand between 18-30 years old could benefit from this type of visas! For those wishing to bring their non-UK loved ones over, options such as ancestry visas and the EU Settlement Scheme could be worth exploring. These pathways provide an opportunity for eligible individuals with grandparents born in the UK or family members of current European Union nationals living in Britain – enabling them to stay without needing large scale sponsorship.