Joe Milner, Partner and Solicitor Advocate of Loch Law, part of Loch Associates Group
In an increasingly challenging recruitment market, employers in the UK’s social care sector are exploring new avenues, including the possibility of recruiting overseas workers. The idea of widening the search pool to overseas workers has gained traction as a potential solution to address the shortage of skilled professionals in the industry. However, before diving into this, employers need to understand the implications and ensure the appropriate Visas are in place.
There are two main worker Visa routes that employers can consider when recruiting overseas workers in the UK: the Skilled Worker Route and the Global Mobility Visa Route. The Skilled Worker Route is the most popular choice, offering overseas workers the opportunity to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK, providing them with long-term stability. The Global Mobility Visa Route is suitable for bringing staff from overseas group companies, including graduate trainees, and assisting overseas companies in establishing a presence in the UK.
Recruiting through these Visa routes necessitates that employers hold a Sponsorship Licence to support the worker’s Visa application. This process typically takes six to twelve weeks for approval. Once granted, the Sponsorship Licence remains valid for four years, providing employers with flexibility in their recruitment of overseas staff. The application for the licence involves an online submission, providing supporting evidence, and covering relevant information to UK Visas and Immigration. After obtaining the Sponsorship Licence, the employer must assign a Certificate of Sponsorship to each individual, confirming their support for the worker’s Visa application. With this certificate, the individual can proceed with their Visa application, which may include attending a biometrics appointment and submitting relevant documentary evidence of their status and role at the employer.
In some cases, overseas workers may have dependents who wish to join them in the UK. In these situations, the employer may need to assist in arranging Visas for the dependents as well. This additional support requires careful consideration and support but it can help the overseas worker settle in.
Beyond Visa and legal requirements, employers also need to consider the support necessary to help overseas workers integrate seamlessly into their business and the local community. Language barriers, cultural differences, and unfamiliarity with local practices can pose challenges for both the worker and the employer. Therefore, implementing a comprehensive onboarding process with the assistance of a buddy or mentor can significantly aid the integration process. Additionally, a training programme for all staff to appreciate cultural differences can create a more inclusive and positive work environment.
Despite the challenges, recruiting from abroad can bring numerous benefits to the care sector. Overseas workers can fill gaps in skills and expertise, which are essential for the success of businesses in this sector. Their diverse backgrounds and fresh perspectives can also contribute to innovative thinking and a vibrant work culture that fosters creativity and growth.
Workplace immigration in the care sector can offer a viable solution to the recruitment challenges faced by employers in the UK. By understanding the various Visa options, obtaining the necessary sponsorship licences, and providing adequate support to overseas workers, employers can harness the potential of overseas workers to build a diverse and skilled workforce that contributes to the success of their business.
Given the complexity of immigration procedures, seeking specialist advice is crucial to ensure compliance with the correct processes and avoid unnecessary delays. Employers in the care sector should consider engaging the services of specialist immigration solicitors, such as Loch Law, to simplify and streamline the immigration process.