How do I sponsor a migrant worker?
The resident labour market test
This page explains how to complete a resident labour market test before you employ migrants under Tier 2 (General) of the points-based system.
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What is the resident labour market test?
If you want to recruit a migrant from outside the settled workforce for a skilled job that is not on the list of shortage occupations, you can only do this if you complete a resident labour market test and show us that there is no suitable settled worker who can do the job.
All vacancies must be advertised to settled workers for 28 calendar days. You can choose to do this in 1 of 2 ways:
- advertise the vacancy for a single continuous period, with a minimum closing date of 28 calendar days from the date the advertisement first appeared; or
- advertise the vacancy in two stages, where each stage lasts no less than 7 calendar days and both stages added together total a minimum of 28 calendar days. For example, you can initially advertise the vacancy for 14 calendar days. If a suitable settled worker is identified, you can appoint them straight away. However, if no suitable settled worker is identified, you cannot appoint a migrant worker who applies at this stage - you must advertise the vacancy for a further 14 days, making 28 calendar days in total. If no suitable settled workers are identified during either the first or second stage, the resident labour market test has been completed and you can appoint a Tier 2 migrant.
The period of advertising starts from the date the advertisement first appears.
When you assign a certificate of sponsorship on the sponsorship management system under Tier 2 (General), you must confirm that:
- you have completed a resident labour market test as set out in the relevant code of practice and cannot fill the post with a settled worker; or
- the test is not required for the job (see below).
Do I need to complete a resident labour market test?
You must complete a resident labour market test before sponsoring a migrant under the Tier 2 (General) category, unless you qualify for one of the exemptions below.
Shortage occupation list
You do not need to complete a resident labour market test if the migrant will be doing a job which is on the shortage occupation list.
Existing employees and switching immigration categories
You do not need to complete a resident labour market test if the migrant currently has permission to stay in the UK under:
- Tier 1 (Post-study work);
- the International Graduates Scheme;
- the Fresh Talent Working in Scotland Scheme;
- the Science and Engineering Graduates Scheme;
- Tier 4 as a student and they have received final results confirming that they have passed and will be (or have been) awarded a UK recognised bachelor's or master's degree, or have passed and will be (or have been) awarded a UK Postgraduate Certificate in Education, or
have completed a minimum of 12 months study in the UK towards a UK PhD.
You also do not need to complete a resident labour market test if:
- the annual salary package for the job is £152,100 or above; or
- the migrant will be sponsored as a doctor in speciality training and their salary and the costs of their training are being met by the government of another country under an agreement with that country and the UK government; or
- the job is in a supernumerary research position and the applicant has been issued a scientific research Award or Fellowship and is therefore over and above your normal staffing requirements.
Postgraduate doctors and dentists in speciality training
You do not need to complete a resident labour market test if the migrant is a postgraduate doctor or dentist who has been in further speciality training in the UK, and who needs to apply for further permission to stay under Tier 2 (General) so that they can complete that training after an out-of-programme experience.
If a postgraduate doctor or dentist in speciality training wants to do their out-of-programme experience in the UK, the organisation providing the out-of-programme experience must become the new sponsor. The current sponsor (usually the NHS trust) must notify us that it no longer has sponsorship responsibilities for the doctor or dentist. The new sponsor must assign a new certificate of sponsorship and conduct a resident labour market test.
When the out-of-programme experience has been completed, the migrant may need to return to their speciality training. The original sponsor must assign a new certificate of sponsorship, but will not need to complete a resident labour market test. It must confirm on the certificate of sponsorship that an exception to the resident labour market test applies. The sponsor during the migrant's out-of-programme experience must notify us that it is no longer sponsoring the migrant.
Any postgraduate doctor or dentist in speciality training is given a National Training Number (NTN). The sponsor must produce this on request, as evidence that the migrant was undertaking speciality training before their out-of-programme experience.
How do I complete a resident labour market test?
To complete a resident labour market test for any other job in the Tier 2 (General) category, you must use the advertising methods permitted by the code of practice for the sector or job.
The advertisement must include:
- the job title;
- the main duties and responsibilities of the job (the job description);
- the location of the job;
- an indication of the salary package or salary range or terms on offer;
- the skills, qualifications and experience needed; and
- the closing date for applications, unless the job is part of a rolling recruitment programme (in which case the advertisement should state the period of the recruitment programme).
All jobs advertised to settled workers must be advertised using 2 of the permitted media. In many cases this will be:
- mandatory advertising online through the Jobcentre Plus Universal Jobmatch service (for jobs based in England, Wales and Scotland) or through Jobcentre Online for jobs based in Northern Ireland (unless one of the exemptions below applies); and
- 1 other permitted method.
The only jobs that do not need to be advertised in Jobcentre Plus are:
- jobs in the creative sector where the code of practice states that advertising is not required because the migrant will be making an additional contribution to the UK labour market - see the creative sector codes for more information;
- jobs where there will be stock exchange disclosure requirements;
- 'milkround' graduate recruitment exercises;
- pupillage positions for trainee barristers;
- jobs which fall within the 'PhD level' SOC codes listed in the guidance for sponsors;
- jobs where the annual salary package will be £71,000 or more;
- jobs in the NHS where the vacancy has been advertised on the NHS Jobs website between 19 November 2012 and 1 October 2013; and
- jobs for which you do not need to do a resident labour market test (see above).
In all of the above cases, you must still meet all the other resident labour market test requirements as set out in the Guidance for sponsors.
If a settled worker applies for the job but does not have the necessary qualifications, experience or skills, you cannot refuse to employ them unless you specifically requested these qualifications, experience or skills in the job advertisement.
If you want to sponsor a migrant to do a job that you have advertised under the resident labour market test, you must assign the certificate of sponsorship no more than 6 months after you first advertised the job. (If the vacancy has been advertised in 2 stages, as described above, you must assign the certificate of sponsorship within 6 months of the date when the first of the 2 advertisements appeared.) This is to make sure that the results of your advertising reflect the current availability of the skills you need. The only exceptions to this 6-month rule are:
- where a migrant has been recruited via a milkround, in which case you can assign a certificate of sponsorship up to 48 months after the milkround took place;
- where the job falls within 1 of the PhD level SOC codes listed in the guidance for sponsors, in which case you can assign the certificate of sponsorship up to 12 months after the recruitment process started; and
- where the migrant has been recruited to a pupillage position for trainee barristers, a CoS must be assigned within 24 months of the pupillage position first being advertised; and
where the job advertised is for a rank and file (tutti) orchestral musician, the CoS must be assigned within 24 months of the date the job was first advertised.
When you have completed a resident labour market test, you must keep the documents listed in Appendix D of the guidance for sponsors.
Methods of advertising jobs
The following is a list of methods you might use to advertise the job. All jobs must be advertised online through job centres (except where indicated below) and using one other method - the Guidance for sponsors explains which other method you can use.
If the job is exempt from advertising through job centres, you must advertise it using two of the permitted methods. They do not have to be two different methods, for example you could advertise in two different professional journals.
You must keep documents related to the resident labour market test, as stated in Appendix D of the full policy guidance, for each recruitment method you use. You can download Appendix D from the right side of this page,
The Gov.uk website contains information on how to advertise a vacancy online through job centres. For jobs located in England, Wales and Scotland, you can place an advertisement online using the free Universal Jobmatch service. All vacancies will run for a standard period of 60 days but you can specify a shorter period if you wish.
If you are advertising a vacancy in Northern Ireland, you must advertise using the Jobcentre Online service. All advertisements will run for a standard period of 28 days. Information on how to advertise a vacancy in Northern Ireland is available on the Jobcentre Online website. Vacancies can also be placed by email, fax or speaking to an advisor on the telephone number given on this website.
Your advertisement will only be accepted if there is a current vacancy when the advertisement is placed. If you also use milkrounds or rolling recruitment programmes (see below), you must make sure that you place your vacancies when there are actual posts to fill. It is important to adhere to the Universal Jobmatch or Jobcentre Online rules- if your vacancy advertisement is refused; you will not be able to complete a resident labour market test and will not be able to assign a certificate of sponsorship for that vacancy.
National newspaper or professional journal
The job may be advertised using the employment section appropriate for the job, of a national newspaper or a professional journal. A national newspaper is 1 that is available throughout the UK from the majority of newsagents. The Scotsman and The Herald are acceptable as suitable national newspapers for jobs located in Scotland. The Western Mail is acceptable for vacancies in Wales. The Belfast Telegraph is acceptable for vacancies in Northern Ireland.
A professional journal is 1 that is published for a particular field and is available nationally either at a majority of newsagents or through subscription.
If the code of practice allows it, you may recruit using an annual graduate recruitment programme, known as a 'milkround'. This is a system where employers from a wide range of sectors visit universities to give presentations and interview prospective graduates, usually as part of university careers fairs.
If you recruit through a milkround, you must have visited at least 3 UK universities as part of the milkround, or all of the universities which deliver the relevant course, whichever is the lower number. You do not need to advertise the job through Jobcentre Plus (or in Jobs and Benefit Officers or JobCentres in Northern Ireland), but you will need to have advertised the job through 2 external recruitment channels permitted by the Guidance for sponsors (1 of which must be a graduate recruitment website listed in the Guidance for sponsors in addition to the milkround.
Rolling recruitment programmes
The points-based system has been developed to allow sponsors to recruit skilled migrants to fill specific vacancies that cannot be filled by settled workers. Rolling recruitment programmes exist to allow companies to pick out skilled individuals who might fill future, undefined vacancies.
We are not trying to stop employers from identifying migrants through these programmes. However, when a specific vacancy becomes available, you must do a resident labour market test.
Recruitment agencies and headhunters
If the code of practice says so, you may use an agency or headhunter to help with your recruitment. They may recruit for the post as set out in the Guidance for sponsors, which includes mandatory advertising where applicable.
You can advertise the job online. We do not restrict you to specific websites but whichever one you choose, it must be;
- the relevant government website hosting jobs advertised through the Jobcentre Plus Universal Jobmatch service, or Jobcentre online in Northern Ireland (in some cases this will be mandatory); or
- an online version of a national newspaper that would meet the requirements; or
- an online version of a professional journal that would meet the requirements; or
- the website of a prominent or professional recruitment organisation.
You can advertise on your own website but only if your organisation is a multinational or global company, or a large organisation with more than 250 permanent employees in the UK.
Unless an exemption applies, all jobs under Tier 2 (General) or Tier 2 (Intra company transfer) category must be at or above NQF level 6 (or the equivalent in Scotland). The codes of practice contain more guidance about which jobs are at this level. You can also find more information on our categories of skilled workers page.
Appropriate rates of pay
All migrants must be paid the appropriate salary rate (set out in the Guidance for sponsors and the codes of practice) to ensure that the resident labour market is not undercut.
If the migrant will be working in the UK for less than 12 months, the rate of pay must be based on an annual salary. For example, earnings of £13,000 on a 6-month contract would mean an annual salary of £26,000.
To meet the resident labour market test requirements, all jobs must be advertised at the appropriate rate of pay for that job in the UK, to ensure that you have genuinely tried to fill the vacancy with a settled worker. Migrants, when taken on, must be paid at least the rate advertised.
The European Economic Area (EEA) consists of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK. Although Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway are not members of the European Union (EU), their citizens have the same rights as EU citizens to enter, live in and work in the UK.
The pool of workers who qualify as resident workers. A resident worker is a person who is a national of the European Economic Area (EEA) or is legally settled in the United Kingdom with permission to work here.
A person who is a national of the European Economic Area (EEA) or is legally settled in the United Kingdom with permission to work here. In some cases, an employer who wishes to employ a person who is not a permanent resident must show that no resident worker could be found to take the job.
This refers to either the Scottish Vocational Qualification or the National Vocational Qualification at level 3. A qualification at this level is one that shows competence that involves the application of knowledge in a broad range of varied work activities performed in a wide variety of contexts, most of which are complex and non-routine. There is considerable responsibility and autonomy and control or guidance of others is often required.
You are normally resident in the United Kingdom with no immigration restriction on the length of your stay. To be free of immigration restriction you must have the right of abode or indefinite leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom.
Specific types of work that have been officially listed as ones for which there are not enough resident workers to fill available jobs. Employers who wish to hire a worker from outside the European Economic Area to fill a vacancy that is on a list of shortage occupations may do so without carrying out a resident labour market test.
An IT system used by organisations that sponsor migrants under the points-based system. It allows sponsors to allocate certificates of sponsorship to migrants, carry out the administrative functions necessary to comply with their sponsor obligations and duties, and communicate information to us.