Tier 2 work permits have replaced the original UK work permit system. Employees who are coming to the UK to fill a role that cannot be filled by a UK citizen are required by law to have a Tier 2 work permit. They must also have confirmed sponsorship from an employer who has an Employment Sponsorship Licence.
As an employer, if you wish to sponsor a foreign worker, you must be licensed and the role must come under one of these categories:
Skilled Worker: this covers skilled workers who can cover a skills gap in the UK
Intra-Company Transfer: people being transferred to a UK branch of a company they already work for
Sports People: elite athletes and coaches
Minister of Religion: workers within a legitimate religion
You must be able to prove that:
The job must be one that cannot be filled by a worker already in the UK.
The business is genuine
There is a genuine requirement for the role that is being recruited for
That the potential employee has the necessary skills required for the role
The employee must meet the basic requirements and pass the Tier 2 points test
To apply for the work permit you must prove that you have advertised the role and are unable to fill the position with a UK citizen. This does not apply if you are filling a role that is listed on the Shortage Occupation List.
The Tier 2 Work Visa is valid for 3 years and gives the employee the right to live and work in the UK. This can be extended later, although it is worth remembering that after being in the UK for 5 or more years the employee can apply for Indefinite Right to Remain (permanent residency).
A Tier 2 visa is not transferable, so if you employ a worker who already has a tier 2 visa with a different organisation, you and the employee must re apply for a new visa.
Work Visas can be a minefield, if you would like some advice please get in touch.