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Skilled Worker Visa – sponsorship guidance for recruiting managers

Understand how to incorporate the sponsorship process into your job vacancy on Stonefish.

It is advised that recruiting managers read the Skilled Worker Visa webpages prior to raising a Staff Request Form (SRF) on Stonefish for a new or replacement position.

Key points to note:

  • Although a wider range of roles are now eligible for sponsorship as the minimum skills threshold has been lowered from RQF Level 6 (e.g. Degree level) to RQF Level 3 (e.g. A-levels / Scottish Highers level), roles below this level are unlikely to meet the requirements for sponsorship. This means that those who do not hold an existing permission to work in the UK (e.g. EU Settlement Scheme, Dependant Visa, Settlement/ILR etc) will be unable to apply for these roles.

  • While the removal of the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) will shorten some aspects of the recruitment / sponsorship process and mean that you can appoint the best worker for the role irrespective of where they are from (subject to the role / individual being sponsorable), the fact that EU, EEA and Swiss citizens currently residing outside of the UK will now need a visa to come and work in the UK will need to be taken into account and factored into the recruitment process.

SRF Process - Initial set-up

  1. As the recruiting manager, you will need to raise an SRF on Stonefish for a new or replacement position, as normal. Under the ‘Request Details’ section of the form, an additional mandatory field has now been created entitled ‘SOC code’. Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) Codes are based on a system designed by the Office for National Statistics to determine the skill and salary requirements of a role. It is this code that is used by the University to assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to an applicant which then allows them to apply for a visa. The CoS is the University’s undertaking that the role is genuine and meets the necessary skill and salary requirements needed for sponsorship.

  2. This ‘SOC Code’ field will have a help function attached to it which will link to further information on the Skilled Worker Visa webpages on sponsorable roles should you need to refer to this when completing your SRF. To assist recruiting managers and applicants to determine whether a role is likely to be sponsorable (taking into account the minimum skill and salary threshold requirements and other tradeable characteristics) we have developed guidance on typical sponsorable roles at the University grouped according to the University’s Job Families. Each role has been assessed and had the most appropriate SOC Code attached to it.

  3. When selecting the job family for the role, you will then need to choose one of the mandatory options below:

    • The appropriate SOC code for the role, as listed, according to the guidance; or
    • There is no SOC code listed but I believe this role meets the skill and salary requirements to be considered for sponsorship; or
    • There is no SOC code listed and I don’t believe this role is eligible for sponsorship.
  4. Once the SOC code (or text option above) has been selected, a message will appear stating that ‘A HR Recruitment Co-ordinator will review your selection and will inform you of any changes that may be required and/or determine whether a role is sponsorable or not’.

  5. For an applicant to use a PhD qualification as a ‘tradeable point’ for any role listed as being eligible for PhD points under the Government’s Appendix Skilled Occupations, unless the job description specifically states this as an essential criterion, it will be up to the recruiting manager to provide a credible explanation on the following at SRF stage.

    • If the role does not require a PhD as an essential qualification: Please detail how a PhD qualification is relevant to the role (if a Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) PhD, please specify how it is in a STEM subject).
  6. For roles which are sponsorable based on salary alone then the following statement will appear in the advert 'This role is sponsorable'. For roles which are potentially sponsorable based on tradeable criteria, the following statement will appear in the advert 'This role is potentially sponsorable subject to applicants meeting the tradeable points criteria'. In both cases, applicants will be signposted to relevant guidance where they can make an informed decision as to whether they are likely to meet the requirements for sponsorship. Once an applicant has decided they can potentially meet the points criteria they can then make an application.

  7. For roles which are not sponsorable, the HR Recruitment Co-ordinator will tick the relevant box on the job admin screen for the vacancy so that a warning message appears to those applicants who select they are a non-British/Irish citizen and do not have the right to work in the UK. The warning message will state that ‘Under the Points-Based Immigration System, the role they are applying for is unlikely to be eligible for sponsorship’ and will signpost them to the relevant guidance.

  8. In making an application, applicants will need to select one of the following: ‘I am a British/Irish citizen’; ‘I am a non-British/Irish citizen and don’t have the right to work in the UK’; ‘I am a non-British/Irish citizen and I believe I have the right to work in the UK’. If an applicant selects the final option, they will be asked to provide further details on this which links to our right to work guidance.

SRF Process - After your vacancy closes

  1. When your vacancy closes in Stonefish, it will be identified who needs a visa or not according to what the applicant states under Point 8 above. If a PhD qualification has not been selected as a tradeable point against the vacancy (as it is not an essential or desirable qualification in the job description) but it is one which is listed as being eligible for PhD points under the Government’s Appendix Skilled Occupations the HR Recruitment Co-ordinator will identify those applicants who would require a visa to work at the University and who would likely need to use tradeable points (such as a PhD) to obtain this. Prior to confirming the shortlist, the HR Recruitment Co-ordinator will contact you to ask whether you can provide an additional justification of how an applicant's PhD qualification is relevant to the role they may potentially be sponsored for (if a STEM PhD, you will be asked to specify how it is in a STEM subject). As per Point 5 above, if successful, the applicant will be asked to provide evidence of this qualification following the interview process as this is necessary for their visa application, 'equivalent experience' will not suffice.

  2. Any applicants that have selected that they are ‘a non-British/Irish citizen and don’t have the right to work in the UK’ as part of the application process will appear with a red dot next to their name under a column entitled ‘CoS’ - these applicants will need a visa to work here. Applicants that have selected they are a ‘non-British/Irish citizen but believe they have the right to work in the UK’ will appear with a blue dot in the same [CoS] column. For applications that are marked with a blue dot you should satisfy yourself that the individual has the right to work in the UK by checking the details next to this question in their application form. Please speak to your HR Recruitment Co-ordinator who can provide further guidance on this, if required.

  3. If an applicant needs a visa, once it has been confirmed that they meet the points required for sponsorship and they have accepted a formal offer of employment from the University, HR will initiate the onboarding process via Stonefish.

  4. As part of this, the applicant will be required to complete a ‘Applicant Details Form - CoS Checklist’ so that HR can carry out the necessary checks prior to assigning a CoS to them. The applicant will be asked to confirm the following information:

    • That their personal details are correct as stated on their job application form;
    • Details of their current UK visa (if applicable);
    • How they will meet the points criteria for sponsorship; and
    • How they will meet the English language requirements; They will also be asked to upload the necessary documentation to Stonefish to support their visa application e.g. copy of passport/visa, copy of their PhD qualification, UK ENIC reference number etc. as part of this request.
  5. Having checked the above, if the HR Recruitment Co-ordinator needs any further information from the applicant or they encounter an issue with the details they have provided, they will contact them.

SRF Process - Assigning the CoS

  1. Only when the HR Recruitment Co-ordinator has carried out the necessary checks and is satisfied that the requirements for sponsorship have been met can the process of assigning a CoS be initiated.

  2. ATAS requirement – prior to the Staff Immigration Team assigning the CoS the HR Recruitment Co-ordinator will need to determine if the applicant requires an ATAS certificate for their Skilled Worker Visa or Temporary Worker – GAE (T5) Visa application. If the applicant does need an ATAS certificate, you will be asked to complete an ‘ATAS Research Statement Template Form’. The applicant will use this information as part of their application so it is important that this information is factually correct. They will need an ATAS certificate if all of the following apply:

    • Nationality – they are not a national of one of the following countries: EU/EEA countries, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland and the USA.
    • Role Level – they will be carrying out research at PhD level or above.
    • Role Type – their role is sponsored under one of these SOC codes.
    • Subject Area – their subject area falls under one of these academic subject (CAH3) codes.
  3. For full details of the visa application process, including visa processing times, please see our guidance here. It is important when considering a start date for an applicant that you take into account the visa processing times (including the new ATAS requirements) and their travel/relocation plans. Please note – once a start and end date have been stated on a CoS, we are unable to change the end date. We can change the start date due to exceptional reasons, however, this must be within the strict timeframes set by UKVI and your HR Recruitment Co-ordinator would need to be notified in advance of this change so that it can be reported to UKVI.