Before you recruit an overseas worker

Before recruiting someone who is a migrant to work for you in Scotland under the Skilled Worker route, you should ensure that the role you plan to offer them meets the eligibility requirements under the points-based system.


Before recruiting someone who is a migrant to work for you in Scotland under the Skilled Worker route, you must ensure that the role meets a Standard Occupational Classification (SOC code) description which is at RQF level 3 or above and is at the approved salary level for sponsorship.

Standard Occupational Classification Codes

You should match the role you plan to recruit with the most appropriate Standard Occupational Classification Codes (SOC Code) and ensure that the SOC code is sufficiently skilled for sponsorship. The relevant codes are in the Immigration Rules here.

Under the Skilled Worker route, roles which are eligible for sponsorship must be at Regulated Qualification Framework (RQF) level 3 and above. This broadly means roles which are at English A-level/Scottish Higher level or above but details of the specific roles which are eligible are in the link above.

Roles must also be paid the required minimum salary. This means an experienced worker for a role must usually be paid either £25,600 or the going rate for the relevant SOC Code (whichever is higher). However, there are exceptions to this in some cases.

Job Description and SOC Codes

SOC Codes list the job description, minimum pay rates and the skill level for that particular type of role. e.g. “New Entrant” and “Experienced”.

The “New Entrant” salary is usually 30% less than the "Experienced" salary for any job, subject always to a minimum of £20,480. This is to reflect the fact that "New Entrants" are more likely to be earlier on in their careers and therefore be paid less than those "Experienced" workers. As mentioned, the "Experienced” worker salary is a minimum of £25,600 for most new applicants, or the going rate for the relevant SOC Code (whichever is higher). There are some cases where the minimum salary for an "Experienced" worker will be lower, for example where the role is on the Shortage Occupation List or the migrant has a PHD (including in a STEM subject).

Once the relevant SOC Code has been identified, you should:

  • Print it out to retain on the person’s file. The job description of the role you’re recruiting for will need to be checked against the description in the SOC Code to ensure that the Code accurately reflects the role.
  • Check the rate of pay for the post you’re recruiting for meets the minimum salary rate listed on the relevant SOC Code.
  • Check the skill level of the SOC Code to ensure that you can sponsor any migrant applying under that route.

As mentioned, there is also a 'Shortage Occupation List'. This is a list of sponsorable job codes where there is a recognised shortage of workers in the UK. This list is reviewed from time to time by the Migration Advisory Committee. Sponsoring a role on the Shortage Occupation List can mean that certain concessions (including a lower minimum salary) can apply to the role you intend to sponsor. Scotland has a separate list from the rest of the UK and you should check both lists to determine whether a Shortage occupation SOC Code applies

Recruiting an overseas (migrant) worker

Once you are comfortable that the role you intend to sponsor a migrant worker to do meets the minimum skill and salary requirements you can then refer the matter to your designated Level 1 user of the Sponsor Management System, requesting they issue or apply for the relevant Certificate of Sponsorship to the person you have selected.

The Level 1 user should:

  • Apply for a Defined Certificate of Sponsorship (if the individual is outside of the UK); and then
  • Assign the relevant Certificate of Sponsorship to the migrant worker, allowing them to make the necessary application to work in the UK.

Offering a job

Once you identify the overseas (migrant) worker you wish to employ and you have taken all the necessary steps to do so, you can make them an offer of employment. You can make them the offer before issuing a Defined Certificate of Sponsorship. If the migrant worker is already in the UK, you may need to use an Undefined Certificate of Sponsorship for them - details can be found here.

However, allocating a Certificate of Sponsorship and providing the unique reference number to the overseas (migrant) worker does not guarantee that they will be granted entry to the UK or permitted to remain here.

They must make an application for a visa, either from a visa processing centre abroad if they are out of the country or to the Home Office if they are in the UK.

It is therefore essential that any offer of employment you make is subject to permission to work in the UK being obtained by your potential employee (overseas migrant worker). Note that this can sometimes be a lengthy process and you may be required to amend your standard offer letters to reflect this.

You should also ensure that you retain relevant paperwork in relation to the sponsorship (including paperwork in relation to any recruitment process undertaken) in line with Appendix D which can be found here.