Before you recruit an overseas worker

Before recruiting someone who is a migrant to work for you in Scotland, you must complete a Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) unless an exemption applies.


Before recruiting someone who is a migrant to work for you in Scotland, you must complete a Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) unless an exemption applies.  A list of exemptions can be found on the Home Office website, e.g. Shortage Occupation List (SOL).

You will also need to ensure that the role meets the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC code) description and is at the approved salary level for sponsorship. This method of advertisement ensures there are no qualified British or EEA nationals in Scotland who are suitable for the vacancy.

Resident Labour Market Test

To fulfil the criteria for the Resident Labour Market Test, all your advertisements must include certain details.

The role must be advertised in a specific manner for a certain period of time.

If you recruit an overseas (migrant) worker, you will need to provide proof that you or a third party you used to recruit has carried out the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) adequately. All proof must be retained and stored on file.

Any time you advertise a role for any job, you should ensure the vacancy you’re advertising meets the requirements of the Resident Labour Market Test. By adopting this approach and taking simple steps at beginning of the recruitment process, you ensure the appropriate requirements have already been carried out to allow you to hire an overseas migrant.

Failure to do so may impact your ability to employ an overseas migrant in the future.

If an overseas migrant applies for your advertised post, this will hopefully mean there are not further delays in re-advertising before a Certificate of Sponsorship can be issued.

More information about advertising a job in Scotland

Before advertising

Before advertising a vacancy and conducting the Resident Labour Market Test you should check the appropriate Standard Occupational Classification (SOC Code) for the role that is to be recruited for. The relevant codes are in the consolidated version of the Code of Practice for Skilled Workers on the Home Office website.

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 a minimum of £20,800 and since 24 November 2016, the “Experienced” salary is a minimum of £25,000 for most new applicants, though certain exemptions apply such as for nurses and medical radiographers. The UK Government intends to increase the minimum “Experienced” salary to £30,000 in April 2017.

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.

Recent changes have made it much more difficult to sponsor migrants who are not considered to be ‘skilled migrants’. For example, for occupations deemed to be skilled to a PhD level, sponsorship is generally available.

For occupations deemed to be skilled to NQF Level 6, sponsorship is generally available. However, for roles skilled to NQF Level 4, migrants can only be sponsored in these roles in certain circumstancesor instance, if the job appears on the Home Office's Shortage Occupation List.

If a role is deemed by the SOC Code to be at NQF Level 4 or below, then you’ll need to reference the Shortage Occupation List. Scotland has a separate list from the rest of the UK and you should check both lists to determine whether it is possible to sponsor the overseas (migrant) worker.

Recruiting an overseas (migrant) worker

If during the interview process you identify an appropriate candidate who is an overseas migrant and you have taken appropriate steps, you will have already carried out the Resident Labour Market Test and retained proof of this on file.

You can then refer the matter to your designated Level 1 user of the Sponsor Management System, requesting they issue a Certificate of Sponsorship to the person you have selected.

The Level 1 user should:

  • Confirm that the Resident Labour Market Test had been appropriately carried out
  • Issue the Certificate of Sponsorship to the migrant worker, allowing them to make the necessary application to work in the UK to an Entry Clearance Post (if they are abroad) or to the UK Visas and Immigration Home Office (if they are in the UK).

Any offer of employment you make to an overseas migrant should be subject to them obtaining the necessary permissions to work in the UK. They must satisfy to you as the employer that they have done this.

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 Certificate of Sponsorship.

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 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.