After Brexit: How to Employ a Skilled Worker from Abroad - Including Carers

Need a pastry chef? Yes, you can employ someone from outside the UK. Or a florist? Yes, feel free to recruit from abroad. In the UK they are classed as ‘Skilled Workers’. Carers? HGV drivers? Oh no. These jobs are not skilled enough according to our government so they do not appear on the list of ‘eligible occupations’ available to skilled workers from abroad.

That is one of the reasons why we have a shortage of these workers. Without easy access to labour from the European Union, employers in these sectors are struggling.

It is possible to recruit carers from overseas

Senior Carers are on the list of eligible occupations. So are Nursing Auxiliaries. Here are the official definitions of a Senior Carer:

Senior care workers routinely oversee and monitor care workers, care assistants and home carers. They also attend to the personal needs and comforts of the elderly and the infirm with care and support needs (service users) within residential care establishments, day care establishments or in their own homes.

You will see that, if a Carer supervises others, they are considered Senior Carers and are on the list of Skilled Workers. So are Nursing Auxiliaries and Assistants. Here is the job definition for these jobs:

Nursing auxiliaries and assistants assist doctors, nurses and other health professionals in caring for the sick and injured within hospitals, homes, clinics and the wider community. Tasks required by this job include: performs basic clinical tasks such as taking patient's temperature and pulse, weighing and measuring, performing urine tests and extracting blood samples; prepares patient for examination and treatment; distributes and serves food, assists patients in feeding and prepares snacks and hot drinks; assists patients in washing, dressing, toiletry activities and general mobility; changes bed linen, makes beds and tidies wards.

So there are ways of recruiting Carers as Skilled Workers. But remember, it is not the job title that matters, it is the job description.

Who is a skilled worker from abroad?

The list of jobs available to a Skilled Worker from abroad is fascinating, including scientists, engineers, landscape gardeners, train conductors, printers, and teaching assistants. It is worth looking at the list, which also tells you the minimum salary for each job here:

Immigration Rules Appendix Skilled Occupations - Immigration Rules - Guidance - GOV.UK (

Steps to employing skilled workers from abroad

1. Get a Sponsorship Licence

Of course, all immigration comes with its burden of bureaucracy and expense. In order to employ a Skilled Worker from abroad, an employer must have a Sponsorship Licence to sponsor Skilled Workers. This process can take up to eight weeks and there is a fee to pay.

The employer must show its business is genuine and that the jobs it plans to fill with foreign workers are genuine. The employer must have in place good HR systems to keep track of its migrant workers. The Home Office do visit employers, sometimes without notice, to check that the employer is complying with its duties as a Sponsor.

2. Recruit your new staff member

Once the employer has the licence it can start to recruit from abroad. It must show the worker will be paid over the minimum salary set out for that job. This can be a stumbling block – a pastry chef, for example, must be paid at least £18,900 per year. There is a complex system of points trading so that the salary can be lower if, for instance, the Skilled Worker has a PhD. It is also important that the worker works the right hours for the salary. Unless the job is on the shortage occupation list, the employer will pay an Immigration Skills Charge.

3. Worker applies to come to the UK or to move employment within the UK

The worker must then apply to come to the UK as a Skilled Worker or to switch to a new Skilled Worker job in the UK. Again there is a fee for this application. Unless the job is classed as a health and care job, the worker will also have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge, which is a hefty £645 per year. The worker must have a certain level of English and be able to pay for their keep for the first month living in the UK. Again, all these requirements come with details that can derail applications.

Help is at hand

In brief – if you are struggling to find skilled people to fill vacancies, it might be worth obtaining a Sponsorship Licence which will enable you to recruit from abroad. We can advise on all aspects of recruiting skilled workers and have high success rates with Sponsorship Licence applications.

Contact us to have a chat about the processes and costs.

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