How do I sponsor a migrant worker?
Codes of practice
This page explains the Code of practice for: licensed sponsors of Tier 2 (General), Tier 2 (Intra company transfer); and parts of Tier 5 of the points-based system; work permit holders applying for settlement; and migrants making an application to switch immigration category from Tier 1 (Post-study work) to Tier 1 (Entrepreneur).
Before you can sponsor a migrant under Tier 2 or Tier 5, you must check that the job they will do meets our requirements on the skill level of the job and the 'appropriate rate' of pay for the job. If the job does not meet these requirements, you cannot assign a certificate of sponsorship. The codes of practice tell you what the minimum rates of pay and the skill level are for any job you want to recruit for.
The codes of practice have been drawn up based on advice from industry experts and the Migration Advisory Committee. They are the official guidance for sponsors and our caseworkers and you can find them with the Tier 2 and 5 sponsor guidance under 'Policy and Law' on the right side of this page.
Using the codes of practice, you can identify the standard occupational classification (SOC 2010) code that most closely matches the job you want to recruit for. The data in the codes of practice is owned by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The SOC codes we have used correspond to their most recent set of data called 'SOC 2010'. You can find the codes of practice and information about SOC 2010 from the ONS under 'Internet links' on the right side of this page.
You must use the SOC code which best matches the job description rather than the job title. This is because some employers use different job titles to describe the same job. Please do not ask us to match a job title or a job description to a SOC code for you. You know most about what duties and responsibilities the job involves and if you cannot match the job description to a SOC code you should ask for help from the Office for National Statistics .
SOC codes classify only job titles and skill levels. Please do not ask the Office for National Statistics for advice on salaries.
The codes of practice may change. You must check the latest version before you issue a certificate of sponsorship.
Codes of practice before 6 April 2013
The current codes of practice came into force on 6 April 2013. Before then, the codes of practice were based on an older set of data called SOC 2000. You can find the codes of practice based on the set of data SOC 2000 using the link on the right hand side of this page.
If you are going to issue a certificate of sponsorship to a migrant to extend their stay in the UK, you will need to first check whether the SOC code you used on their original certificate of sponsorship is the same under SOC 2010. It is possible that it will have changed. The full Guidance for sponsors explains the different circumstances when this may be important, and arrangements we have made to accommodate any issues that may arise due to the transition from SOC 2000 to SOC 2010.
If you issued a certificate of sponsorship to a migrant before 6 April 2013 using a SOC 2000 code, but they have not yet used that certificate to apply for permission to enter (also known as leave to enter), or permission to stay (also known as leave to remain) in the UK, they can still use it. The full Guidance for sponsors sets out the arrangements we have made for certificates issued before 6 April 2013.
Codes of practice in the creative sector
There are separate codes of practice for the creative sector. They have been agreed with the relevant sector for workers in dance, theatre, film and television.
If you want to bring migrants to the UK in these areas under Tier 5 (Temporary workers - creative and sporting), you must meet the requirements in these codes:
- Code of practice for ballet (PDF 67KB opens in a new window)
- Code of practice for dancers (in dance forms other than ballet) (PDF 68KB opens in a new window)
- Code of practice for performers in film and television (PDF 85KB opens in a new window)
- Code of practice for performers in theatre or opera (PDF 72KB opens in a new window)
- Code of practice for workers in film and television (PDF 84KB opens in a new window)
If you want to bring migrants to the UK in these areas under Tier 2, you should read the relevant code of practice, and the relevant specialist code above.
Using the codes of practice - licensed sponsors
The codes of practice explain which jobs are suitable to be offered under Tier 2 or Tier 5. They list:
- the skill level for jobs in each occupation for which sponsors can issue a certificate of sponsorship; and
- the minimum salary rates for the job for new starters and for experienced staff - usually these are defined by the 10th and the 25th percentile of the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) respectively, or by alternative, appropriate sector-based salary information.
This information is only available in our codes of practice. It is not in the guides published by the Office for National Statistics.
Even if you do not need to pass the resident labour market test, you must check the codes of practice to check that the job is skilled and is paid at the appropriate rate. You can then assign a certificate of sponsorship, but this does not guarantee that the migrant's application will be approved - they must also meet all of the other requirements for making a successful application.
Resident labour market test
Unless the job is on the shortage occupation list (PDF 138KB opens in a new window) or one of the other exemptions listed in the Guidance for sponsors, you will need to conduct a resident labour market test before you can issue a certificate of sponsorship to a migrant worker.
Full information on how to conduct a resident labour market test is set out in the guidance for sponsors.
If you think the information in a code of practice is wrong
If you think that any of the information in the codes of practice is wrong, please email SponsorshipPBSenquiries@UKBA.gsi.gov.uk. Please send as much information and evidence as you can, to support any suggested changes. We will look at your suggestions and update the codes of practice if necessary.
You must not act against the code of practice while we are considering your message.
This is the process an employer must follow before employing a person who is not a permanent resident of the United Kingdom if he/she is first required to show that no resident worker could be found to take a job.