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Home Office warns UK firms to prepare as most still unable to hire EU staff post-Brexit

11 October 2020

Fears most UK firms will be caught out without a sponsor licence with just weeks until free movement ends.

From next year, all businesses that want to employ new workers from the EU will have to be Home Office-approved. Previously, under the free movement principles of the single market, firms employing EU workers did not need a sponsor licence.

With just weeks until freedom of movement ends, there are fears of a massive backlog if businesses leave applications until the last minute.

The Home Office’s campaign to persuade businesses to prepare for the new system will step up as the vast majority of UK firms still have not secured the sponsor licences they will need to employ staff from the EU from January 1 2021.

The Home Office said it was using a wide range of channels to reach employers, including radio, social media, digital, and outdoor advertising. The campaign targets employers who are yet to become sponsors, with the key message that the way they hire from the EU is about to change, and that to recruit from outside the UK, they will need to be a licensed sponsor.

The Home Office’s own figures reveal that so far only 29,514 enterprises are registered to sponsor applicants on Tier 2 visas – the main immigration route for employing skilled workers. This means the vast majority of UK businesses are still unprepared to employ new arrivals to the country at the end of the year.

At present it takes around 6-8 weeks for the Home Office to process a company’s application for a sponsor licence, plus the time it takes to prepare for an application which can also take weeks. Unless the majority of firms that have not yet applied for a sponsor licence start registering now, many will be caught out when the UK leaves the EU on 1 January 2021…