Recruitment: hiring someone

Hiring someone from outside the UK

The way employers hire someone from outside the UK changed on 1 January 2021, when the Brexit transition period ended.

There is now a points-based immigration system. This means that:

  • you'll need a sponsor licence to hire most employees and workers from outside the UK
  • anyone you recruit from outside the UK will need to meet certain requirements

You should plan ahead if you want to offer a job to someone from outside the UK. It may take longer than it used to.

Apply for a sponsor licence

You'll need to check whether you need a sponsor licence, and what type of sponsor licence to apply for.

You do not need a licence to sponsor people in some groups, including:

  • Irish citizens
  • anyone with settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme
  • anyone with indefinite leave to remain in the UK

The type of sponsor licence depends on a number of things, including whether you want to hire someone on a temporary basis or offer someone a long-term or permanent job.

You'll need a separate sponsor licence for each person you want to hire.

Find out more about UK visa sponsorship for employers on GOV.UK.

Check they have the right to work in the UK

When you offer someone a job, you must ask for proof that they have the right to work in the UK.

You could be fined up to £20,000 if you do not check this.

Find out more about checking a job applicant's right to work on GOV.UK.

Employing European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss citizens

Applications for the EU Settlement Scheme closed on 30 June 2021.

Since 1 July 2021, EEA and Swiss citizens cannot use their passports or national identity cards to prove they have a right to work in the UK.

The majority of EEA and Swiss citizens will need to prove their right to work using the Home Office online right to work service

The EEA includes the EU countries and also Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

Irish citizens have unrestricted access to work in the UK. They can prove their right to work in the UK by using their Irish passport or passport card, or another proof of identity.

Find out more about employing EU citizens on GOV.UK.

Find out more

For detailed guidance on how to hire someone from outside the UK, see recruiting people from outside the UK guidance on GOV.UK.

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