Hiring employees from abroad: the costs and benefits

By Jackie Penlington,
Senior Associate Stevens & Bolton LLP

The process of bringing across overseas nationals to work for a UK company can appear daunting and pose a number of challenges for today’s busy FD. However, there are certain steps FDs can take to equip themselves to deal with these challenges and ensure their companies remain in the optimal position to embrace the best talent for the job.

Timescale and early considerations

It’s important for senior decision makers to put into place processes so that any potential immigration issues are considered at an early stage and, ideally, are built into any recruitment strategy.

The primary route for employing non-EEA workers is the Tier 2 sponsorship route.  UK companies must first obtain a Tier 2 sponsor licence from the Home Office to sponsor the individual in a skilled role.  If your company doesn’t have a sponsor licence consider whether this is something that you should now obtain, especially in the light of Brexit.   We anticipate employers may need to sponsor EEA nationals post Brexit.  The process of obtaining a sponsor licence can take several weeks

Jackie Penlington, Stevens & Bolton LLP

Even if your company holds a Tier 2 sponsor licence the process of sponsoring an overseas national for a particular role in the UK can also take several weeks.   It’s important that hiring managers are aware of the additional timing considerations.  Having processes in place for them to contact the relevant people to get things moving as soon as possible on the immigration side can make all the difference.  In particular, they’ll need to consider early on if the requirements for sponsorship are met. In particular, is the role sufficiently skilled and is the appropriate salary being paid? Is there a requirement to advertise the role first?  Will the company need to apply for a certificate of sponsorship to issue to the migrant?

It is worth bearing in mind that it can take up to 3 months from job offer to job start depending upon the individual circumstances.

Dependants

Early consideration is also crucial if the overseas individual wishes to bring dependants to the UK.  Their UK job offer may be less attractive if they are unable to bring across certain family members, such as a child aged 18 or over or an elderly parent.

Companies also need to decide what their company policy is on supporting visa applications for family members.

Costs

Budgeting for the additional costs of hiring overseas workers is critical.  The costs of sponsoring non-EEA nationals in the UK can be considerable.  In addition to the application fees, there are other charges such as the Immigration Health Surcharge and the Immigration Skills Surcharge.  These costs can quickly mount up – below are some of the costs for sponsoring an individual under Tier 2 for a period of 5 years:

  • Individual application – total of £7,373
  • Individual application with spouse and 2 children as dependants – total of £13,895

EEA nationals and their family members

There is still uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the protection that will be afforded to EEA nationals and their family members once the UK has left the EU.

Whilst there is clearly a legal duty not to discriminate on the grounds of nationality in the recruitment process, it is worth reviewing your HR practices and ensuring that employment contracts and offer letters make any future employment conditional on the ability of employees to evidence their ongoing right to work in the UK.

Conclusion

There are clearly challenges, costs and time involved in hiring overseas staff.  However, early consideration of these issues means that the benefit that overseas staff can bring to your business needn’t be outweighed by the immigration issues involved.