Human Resources

Immigration (Right to Work)

Tier 2 sponsorship - Guidance for Recruiting Managers and Administrators

General recruitment information can be found under the Recruitment & selection administration Guidance

These pages provide information to assist Recruiting Managers and Administrators when recruiting overseas nationals who require sponsorship under Tier 2 (General)

Minimum skill level & Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes

The minimum skill level for the job must be degree level or above.  The job is matched against a Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code as per the Immigration Rules Appendix J; codes of practice for skilled work

Academic and research roles such as Senior Lecturers and Lecturers, Research Associates and Research Fellows are essentially classed within PhD level SOC codes provided a PhD (or near completion) is an essential requirement for the job.  Professors and Readers are eligible to apply for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa and should not require sponsorship.

Other Grade 6 and above roles sometimes require a Tier 2 CoS.  These will usually be classified in non-PhD level SOC codes.

Grades 1 – 5 roles will not be at the required skill level to offer Tier 2 sponsorship.

Minimum salary

The minimum salary requirement for Tier 2 sponsorship is the bottom of Grade 6, spinal point 27 on the University pay scales.

The minimum salary criteria is a complex area and you should contact HR Immigration or your HR Partner for further advice.

Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT)

If required, the job must have been advertised and meet the Resident Labour Market Test requirements before assigning a Tier 2 Certificate of Sponsorship.

The RLMT test is there to protect the settled workforce and means that you must advertise the job you want to recruit for to give settled workers a chance to apply and ensure that the job cannot be filled by a settled worker before we sponsor someone from outside the UK/EEA. 

Exemptions do apply in some cases such as switching from a Tier 4 student visa, supernumerary research positions or continuing to work for the University in the same occupation.  Please discuss possible exemptions with HR Immigration or your HR Representative.

The majority of roles which require sponsorship are PhD level and the job description should state a PhD (or near completion) in the essential criteria on the person specification. 

In cases where the role is not PhD level, a non-PhD level SOC code will apply with restricter RLMT requirements and an immigration skills surcharge payable when the Certificate of Sponsorship is assigned. 

A suitable settled worker means any settled worker who has the skills and experience you are seeking. If you find that you have more than one candidate with all the necessary skills and experience you advertised for, where one is a settled worker and the other is a migrant, you must appoint the settled worker even if the migrant is more skilled or experienced. Exemption only applies if the job falls within a PhD SOC code when you can appoint a migrant if they are the most suitable candidate.

The job description and advertisement must state the salary range to ensure an attempt has been made to fill the vacancy with a settled worker.  The successful applicant must be paid within the salary range advertised as part of Tier 2 compliance.  Fixed term roles should not state specific start dates due to the delay in the visa process and should state the duration of the contract or specific end date in line with the availability of funding.

The job has to be advertised for a single continuous minimum period of 28 days on the LU website, and using the Jobcentre Plus Universal Jobmatch service.  Your HR Recruitment Officer will automatically place advertisements for Academic and Research roles to meet this requirement. 

Recruiting Managers will be contacted when advertisements are being processed for other Grade 6 and above roles to determine whether the requirement to recruit a non UK/EEA applicant may be a possibility.

Grades 1 – 5 roles are not at the appropriate skill level for Tier 2 sponsorship and are not placed to meet the RLMT requirements.

Evidence of meeting the RLMT is collected and retained by HR who are required to retain screenshots showing the live URLs of the advertisement together with other documentation.

Selection Process

The following documents are required for HR to retain as evidence if Tier 2 sponsorship is required and should be uploaded to the Requisition when the contract request is being submitted via iTrent:

a)    Shortlisting Matrix which should be fully completed
b)    Interview notes
c)    Fully completed ImmForm2 (see related documents in sidebar)
d)    References

Please note that you should not reject any applicant on the grounds that they do not hold the right to work in the UK as this could be considered as indirect discrimination on the grounds of national origin.

Eligibility for Tier 2 sponsorship

a) Applying from outside the UK

In the majority of cases, the candidate will not have been sponsored previously to work in the UK.  However, if the candidate has previously been sponsored under Tier 2 in the UK by another employer and subsequently left the UK, a cooling off period applies. They must wait for 12 months from either the date their previous visa expired or, if earlier, the date they left the UK to apply to re-enter the UK under Tier 2.

b) Applying from inside the UK

The candidate can ‘switch’ into Tier 2 from a range of visa categories some of which include Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 4 (except further education students) and dependent partner of a Tier 4 visa holder.

i) Switching from a Tier 4 visa

Tier 4 Higher Education students must have either completed their UK degree and received their final results, or if they are a PhD student, completed at least one year of a UK PhD.  It is expected that the Tier 2 visa is granted before full time employment can commence.

ii) Change of employment applications

Current employees

If a sponsored employee moves into a new role within the University which is in the same SOC code as their existing role, a new Tier 2 visa is not required.  However, HR are required to report any changes to job title, work location and salary to the UKVI in line with our sponsorship compliance duties.

If the new role is a different SOC code (for example moving from a Research post to a Lecturer post) a new Certificate of Sponsorship is required together with a new Tier 2 visa.  Please note that the employee is unable to commence in the new role until the new Tier 2 visa has been presented to HR.  The employee may continue to work in their existing role provided their current visa has not expired until the new visa has been received.

New prospective employees holding Tier 2 with another employer

Tier 2 visas are not transferable between one employer and another. The University will assign a Certificate of Sponsorship to be used for a new visa application.  The individual must present the new visa before employment can commence.  The individual can continue working for their current employer whilst the new application is in progress provided their current visa has not expired.

Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)

a) Types of Certificate of Sponsorship

A Certificate of Sponsorship is assigned to a prospective employee once a job offer has been made and is used for their Tier 2 visa application. A CoS can be assigned for either up to 3 years or a maximum of 5 years. If the job is a fixed term contract, the CoS will be assigned for the same duration as the contract. A sponsored migrant can only hold a Tier 2 visa for a maximum of 6 years (including sponsorship with a previous employer) after which time they should apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.

i) Restricted CoS

The UKVI issues restricted CoSs on a monthly basis and applications are subject to review by the UKVI before they are agreed. There is a maximum number of restricted CoSs that UKVI can issue nationally each month, but it is rare for an application to be declined. The University must apply for a restricted CoS by the 4th of the month and will receive a response around the 11th of the month. These are used for:

a)    New employees who are outside the UK and coming to start work in the UK from overseas in roles which are not PhD level and do not state a PhD as an essential requirement in the Person Specification.

b)    Dependents of Tier 4 students inside the UK.

ii) Unrestricted CoS

The University is granted an annual allocation and can assign a CoS provided all the criteria have been met and are used for:

a)    New employees who are outside the UK and being recruited to a PhD level role (including academic and the majority of research roles).

b)    New employees who are inside the UK and switching from another immigration category (NB a Tier 4 Dependent requires a restricted CoS; a Tier 2 Dependent can be assigned an unrestricted CoS but has to leave the UK to  make visa application).

c)     Existing employees requiring extensions to their visas.

b) HR process for assigning Certificate of Sponsorship

i) New Tier 2 appointments

Upon receipt of contract request, the HR Recruitment Officer will ascertain (with input from HR Immigration Team) the immigration status of the candidate and whether Tier 2 sponsorship is required. HR will check the individual’s eligibility for Tier 2 and that the role meets the necessary salary and skill level.

HR will liaise with the School/Department contact to obtain the references, shortlisting matrix, interview notes and completed ImmForm2 if these documents have not already been uploaded to the requisition in iTrent.

HR will also liaise with the candidate to obtain scanned copies of passport (and current visa if appropriate) and degree certificates.  Advice will also be provided, as appropriate, regarding meeting the English Language requirement for Tier 2 (see Applying for aTier 2 visa below).  If an open ended position is being offered, the candidate will be asked if they wish to apply for a 3 year or 5 year visa taking into account any previous sponsorship on Tier 2 within the UK. An NHS health surcharge of £400 per year of sponsorship is also payable on top of the standard visa application fee.

HR will issue an ‘offer before contract’ subject to a Tier 2 visa being granted.  Once all the above documents have been received, HR will either apply to the UKVI for a restricted CoS or assign an unrestricted CoS via the UKVI sponsorship management system. 

HR will send the CoS to the candidate via e-mail and the candidate will use the CoS reference number on the visa application.

See Tier 2 (General) visa guidance.  Please also contact HR Immigration for further advice.

Once the candidate receives the visa, the final start date can be agreed with the Recruiting Manager and a full contract will be sent.  The new employee will be required to report to the Senior HR Officer with their original documents prior to the agreed start date. If they are unable to report to HR until their agreed start date, the first day of employment will be amended until the following day.

ii) Extensions to Tier 2 visas

Any extension to contract will be subject to receipt of a new Tier 2 visa.  Provided the visa application has been submitted prior to the current visa end date, the employee may continue to work.  The employee is required to provide a copy of their visa application and UKVI payment acknowledgement.  HR will then undertake an Employer Checking Service (ECS) submission to the UKVI on the visa end date to obtain a Positive Verification Notice (PVN) which acts as the statutory excuse for the continuation of right to work whilst the visa application is in progress.  Once the visa is granted, the employee should bring the original visa to HR as soon as possible for a copy to be taken, verified and retained on the CoS pack for UKVI inspection.

Applying for a Tier 2 visa

Under the points-based system a certain number of points are allocated and applicants must gain a minimum of 70 points under Tier 2 (General) as follows:

Certificate of sponsorship

30 points

Appropriate salary

20 points

English Language requirement

10 points

Maintenance criteria

10 points


70 points

a) English Language Requirement

If a Tier 2 visa applicant does not hold a UK degree or if they are not a national of one of the countries listed below* they will be required to evidence that their English Language meets the required level for Tier 2.  However, if they already hold a visa they may be exempt from the English Language requirement (please contact HR Immigration for advice).

*Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, USA

UKVI guidance quotes the following and we strongly recommend that they either obtain the two letters referred to below or undertake the English Language test as the visa application may be rejected without this evidence.

Knowledge of English can be proven by either:

  • passing an approved English language test with at least CEFR level B1 in reading, writing, speaking and listening
  • having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD

We would recommend the following separate routes, either are acceptable by UKVI.

i)              contact UK NARIC - to obtain confirmation that their degrees are recognised by UK NARIC as equivalent to a UK bachelor’s or master’s degree or PhD evidenced by a NARIC Statement of Comparability letter and taught in English to the relevant standard evidenced by a NARIC English Language Assessment letter (2 letters in total),     OR

ii)             take the English language Test – Approved centres can be found at the    following link.   It is important that the test certificate issued contains a UKVI reference otherwise the UKVI may reject their visa application

b) Maintenance

Loughborough University is classed as an A-rated sponsor and as such can ‘certify’ the maintenance of sponsored candidates.  This means that the University provides a guarantee that the new sponsored employee will have enough money to support themselves for the first month of employment and it will not be necessary to submit any evidence of funds as part of their visa application.  They will be unable to claim state benefits.

Action required BEFORE start date

Before the first day of employment at Loughborough University the Tier 2 sponsored employee must report to their Senior HR Officer, Human Resources Department in the Rutland Building, Room 1.04, to complete their Right to Work Check and produce their original documents.  The office is open 8.30 to 5.30 Monday to Thursday, and 8.30 to 5pm on Friday.  If they are unable to make any of these times please contact us.

Only in exceptional circumstance can they arrange to complete their right to work check on their first day of employment.   In such circumstance please contact HR to discuss the circumstances.  No work of any nature is permissible in advance of this check, this includes induction, uniform issuing and preparation work. 

Please note: Failure to produce their original documents will result in them being unable to commence work on that day.  Their start date and pay will be delayed until their documents have been checked.

Your ongoing responsibilities as the Manager of a Tier 2 sponsored employee and action required once employment has commenced

The University must comply with extremely strict Home Office requirements in order to retain our licence to sponsor international talent.  We are grateful for your cooperation and understanding of the need to comply with these requirements and the consequences which may be imposed upon the University and sponsored visa holders for failure to comply.

When sponsored employees reports to HR prior to their employment, they will be requested to read and sign ImmForm4 which sets out the responsibilities of Tier 2 sponsored employees and their Line Managers detailed below.

Reminders of these requirements will be issued to the sponsored employee at regular intervals during the course of their employment.

i) Contact details

They must ensure that you as their line manager and Human Resources have up-to-date contact details for them at all times, including home address, home phone number and mobile phone number.  It is imperative that these details are updated in my.HR ( immediately if any of these details change.  They must also notify Human Resources, if they know they are travelling to an area where they cannot be contacted (such as going on a field trip to a remote location) and advise of a time that they are expected to be back in an area where they can be contacted.  During a Home Office inspection, the University must show that it holds their most up-to-date contact information.

ii) Absences

We are required to keep records of their absences and be able to provide this information to the UKVI upon request.  We are also required to report to the UKVI any periods of unauthorised absence in excess of ten consecutive working days.

In addition, sponsored visa holders are not permitted to take unpaid leave in excess of a total of one month in any twelve month period from January to December (except in the case of maternity, paternity, adoption and sick leave).

In the event of the University having to report unauthorised leave in excess of ten consecutive working days or unpaid leave in excess of one month to the Home Office, the Home Office are likely to cancel their visa.   It is therefore imperative that they ensure that all leave (paid and unpaid) is recorded in their outlook calendar.

Activities which will require them to be away from the University for a week or more, as well as any instances of working overseas should also be recorded in their outlook calendar.

iii) Changes to job details as recorded on their Certificate of Sponsorship

  • A change in job title, duties, hours and work location
  • A change in salary (including salary changes due to maternity, paternity, adoption and sick leave) but not salary changes due to University-wide pay increases;
  • If they leave early before their Tier 2 visa expiry date (eg if they resign, have funding withdrawn, or are dismissed)

It is extremely important that any changes to the information recorded on their Certificate of Sponsorship is reported to Human Resources immediately and before any changes are agreed or take effect.

iv) Changes to their immigration status

The University is required to report to the Home Office if they change their immigration status which means that the University is no longer their sponsor (eg if they obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain, an EEA family permit, a dependant visa, or any other form of visa which is not sponsored by the University).

Please ensure that they report any changes in their immigration status to the HR Immigration Team  immediately.