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How to obtain work permits for your migrant staff

There is a step by step process for obtaining work permits for migrant staff. UK companies cannot employ migrants unless they have some permission to work in the UK. They must also be able to prove that the job which they are hiring the migrant worker to fill could not be filled by an individual already living within the United Kingdom. In this instance, the permit would not be granted.

Our team at Westkin are highly experienced in helping businesses to achieve work permits for migrant staff. We have worked with companies across a variety of sectors and business sizes in applying for these, and have helped workers from countries across the world, all in a variety of circumstances, to fill positions within the United Kingdom. Please read below the steps which we take to ensure that this process runs smoothly. We offer a fast and transparent service in all that we do, and will ensure that we follow the below process with care and procession to ensure speed and efficiency in assisting your company with obtaining work permits for migrant staff.

 The first step in obtaining a work permit for migrant staff is for the company to become licensed. This first step allows the UKBA (the relevant government agency) to assess the ability of the company and its HR department to manage its workers. Most licenses take around 6 weeks to obtain and usually no audit is needed.

Once the license is obtained, the number of employees is defined by the number of slots (known as ‘certificates’). The more certificates that the UKBA grant, the more employees can be taken on. Broadly speaking, the larger the company’s need, the more certificates should be granted. Of course, during times when an immigration cap is biting, the numbers of certificates can be cut.

 An employer then assigns the new employee a slot on the UKBA’s online system. This generates a unique number. This number is then used to make the work permit application for the member of staff.

The UKBA does, however, further assess whether the employer is only taking on staff who are skilled. Therefore only certain job titles can be filled, those which are skilled. These job titles are contained on a codes of practice document.

The UKBA also check whether the job is one that could have been filled locally. This requires the job to be advertised for a month before in prescribed trade websites. Alternatively, certain jobs are pre-assigned to a ‘shortage occupation list’ which allows the advertising process above to be ignored.

The work permit application is then sent and the application hopefully approved. That employee usually obtains 2-3 years work permit which can be extended, during which time the employee cannot work for anyone other than the sponsoring employer.

Westkin undertake all these steps for employers and we work with existing employment lawyers to undertake the immigration legal work. Employers and Employment Lawyers should get in touch.

Westkin services

The team at Westkin can advise on all aspects of sponsorship and minimise the risk of any errors occurring along the way that may delay your projected timescales for your new hire to start with you by your target start date.

If the Sponsor Licence team make a mistake at any stage, the team at Westkin can also advise you on how best to deal with that error and challenge it.

Westkin Associates


5th Floor, Maddox House,
1 Maddox Street
United Kingdom
0207 118 4546

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