Tier 2 Sponsor Licence Employers See 7% Tier 2 Visa Rise
According to official figures, the number of UK work visas issued in the last year was the highest since 2009. There has been an increase in demand from employers with a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence. This has been largely attributed to a 7% rise in Tier 2 visas granted to skilled workers, of which 55% were issued to Indian nationals.
Sanwar Ali workpermit.com comment: Despite the expense and inconvenience of applying for a Tier 2 sponsor Licence and Tier 2 visa there has been an increase in demand for this UK visa. The Health Surcharge is about to double to £400 a year which will make it even more expensive to hire people from outside the EEA. If Brexit does eventually happen and the Tier 2 visa system remains in place there may very well be a further increase in Tier 2 Sponsor Licence and Tier 2 visa applications in 2019.
Home Office figures indicate that in the year to September 2018, the number of non-EU nationals issued with a UK work-related visa increased by 5% compared to the previous year, totalling 171,679.
Recently, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released a report showing that non-EU net migration levels were the highest since 2004, with 248,000 more non-EU citizens arriving in the UK than leaving. Meanwhile, Net EU migration figures show that 74,000 more EU citizens arrived than left. However, this was reported to be the lowest level since 2014.
Recruiters looking beyond Europe for skilled workers on Tier 2 visas
Employers do not have access to the same pool of talent in the UK that they've previously found among EU workers. However, with Brexit looming, employers are aware that EU talent could end up being in short supply.
An increase in Tier 2 visas means an increase in Tier 2 sponsorship licence applications. A company wanting to recruit non-EU workers with a Tier 2 visa, must have a Tier 2 sponsorship licence to apply for Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) to sponsor a skilled worker and hire them for a job typically paying a salary of £30,000 or more.
UK-based Indian tech companies who recruit IT experts to work on finance and insurance projects in the UK, make up a large portion of the increase in Tier 2 visas issued.
Because of an increased workload among these companies, and because they're struggling to recruit EU nationals for the work, they're looking beyond Europe to fill skilled job vacancies.
UK Visa Migration statistics
Despite an increase in the number of Tier 2 visas issued in the year to September 2018, fewer registration certification and registration cards were issued to EEA nationals in the 12 months to September, showing a 29% drop overall. Meanwhile, there was a 46% decline in the number of registration certificates issued to EU nationals.
Tje new settled and pre-settled status scheme for EU citizens is yet to be rolled out fully. The scheme is currently being piloted, with UK immigration minister, Caroline Nokes, claiming that the scheme is 'going according to plan.'
Meanwhile, UK citizenship applications were up by 8%, with applications made by EU nationals up by 32%. This is attributed to those eligible for UK citizenship, who are applying ahead of residency rule changes.
However, statistics released by the ONS earlier in November, show that the number of EU citizens working in the UK has fallen by 132,000 in the three months to September. This represents the largest drop since records began in 1997.
Acting chief economist for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Ian Brinkley, said: "The statistics are not surprising. They're a continuation of recent migration trends."
"If you're in an economy like the UK, which has been expanding pretty consistently over a long period of time, where unemployment is very low, where the native population is getting a lot older, you're going to suck labour in," Brinkley added.
Mr Brinkley argued that the UK is in the grip of a skills and labour shortage, and the problem continues to grow. "This is evidence that the UK is becoming an increasingly supply-concentrated economy," Brinkley said. He argues that reducing migration, when there's demand for skilled talent, will cause severe constraints on future growth.
Seven years of skills shortages
A white paper recently released by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), warns that the public sector in the UK faces up to seven years of skills shortages.
Director of policy for the REC, Tom Hadley, said: "REC data shows that candidate availability is declining month on month, and 75% of employers have little or no capacity to take on more work without needing to hire more staff."
"The shortage is acute across both the private and public sector - particularly in social care and the NHS, where ensuring safe staffing levels is an absolute must," Hadley added.
According to REC estimations, 10,000 EU staff have left the NHS since the Brexit referendum in June, 2016. In an effort to ease the staff crisis sweeping across the NHS, during the summer, the government made doctors and nurses exempt from Tier 2 visa requirements after the Tier 2 visa CoS allocation limit was exceeded for a record eight months in a row.
Chief policy director at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Matthew Fell, said: "Any post-Brexit migration system must be based on evidence. 92% of businesses cited Brexit as impacting their ability to recruit and train staff in 2018."
"Hospitals, schools, house builders and more are already struggling to get the staff they need. Banning overseas workers earning less than £30,000 will only make this worse," Fell continued.
"Any new system must be based on evidence rather than politically driven targets. Most importantly, firms of all sizes and sectors will need time to adjust to what will be a seismic change," Fell added.