Key questions to consider

Key questions to consider before sponsoring a non-European Economic Area or non-Swiss national to work for you in Scotland prior to 31 December 2020.


As an employer in Scotland who wants to sponsor a non-European Economic Area (EEA) or non-Swiss national to work there are a number of things you should consider before you start the process. You will need to consider the following questions at the start of the process to make sure you can complete the process. You can then access our helpful factsheets for each step in the sponsorship.

Are you a registered sponsor?

As an employer you can only sponsor non-EEA or non-Swiss nationals to work in Scotland and the rest of the UK if you are registered with the Home Office. If you are not already registered with the Home Office, you must register.

What type of visa do you require? Tier 2 (General) or Tier 2 (Intra company transfer)

There are different types of licence available to you to sponsor an employee and it is important that you make sure you have the right licence.

If you want to recruit a new employee from outside your organisation who is a non-European Economic Area (EEA) or non-Swiss national, you must be registered as a Tier 2 (General) sponsor. 

If you want to transfer an existing employee who is a non-European Economic Area (EEA) or non-Swiss national to the UK, then you need to be registered as a Tier 2 (Intra company transfer) sponsor.

When considering which type of licence you will need you should be aware that there are different visa requirements under each licence. For example, if you are sponsoring a Tier 2 (General) employee, you must ensure that you pay them the appropriate salary rate e.g. “New Entrant” (at least £20,800) or “Experienced” (at least £30,000) as identified in the Standard Occupational Codes (whichever is higher) and that they speak English to the required degree. Your Tier 2 (General) employee may be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain after being in this visa category for at least 5 years.

If you are sponsoring a Tier 2 (Intra company transfer) employee, you need to consider how long you want them to work for you in Scotland, on what basis, and whether their current salary allows them to come to Scotland on a long-term basis (as your employee should be paid at least £41,500) or the appropriate rate, whichever is higher. If an employee is coming to work for you in Scotland as a Graduate Trainee, then the salary paid should be at least £23,000. The Skills Transfer sub-category and short term sub-category are no longer available to new applicants. Your employees sponsored under the Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) visa will not normally be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain under this category and will normally be subject to a 12-month cooling off period when their visa ends and they leave the UK. 

Whichever sponsor licence you apply for and are granted, the licence is normally valid for 4 years. During the validity of the sponsor licence, you will be able to sponsor migrants as long as the usual requirements are met such as identifying the relevant Standard Occupational Classification code(s), paying the appropriate salary, carrying out the Resident Labour Market Test, and retaining documents.

Do you meet all the criteria in the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT)?

If your employee will be applying for a Tier 2 (General) visa and they will earn less than £159,600 per year and will not fill a position on the Shortage Occupation List, you will need to meet the criteria for passing the RLMT before you can sponsor them. As part of this process you must advertise the job for 28 days before you can obtain a Certificate of Sponsorship. Be aware that this will delay your recruitment.

Does the potential employee meet the visa requirements?

There are a number of requirements your potential employee must meet before they can be granted a visa by the Home Office. The requirements depend on the type of visa your potential employee is applying for. If your potential employee does not meet these requirements, then their application will be refused by the Home Office and you will have to restart the process again. Therefore it is important that you consider the requirements early on.

For example, you must consider whether your potential employee needs to show that they have an English language qualification. You will also have to consider if your potential employee (and any dependents they bring with them) meet the maintenance requirement, showing they have the relevant sums in their account for 90 days. Alternatively, the employer may be able to certify the maintenance requirement.