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Foreign labour force: employers must register as sponsors

By theend of November employers wishing to hire workers from abroad need to beregistered sponsors.

13 October 2008. “Don’t panic about the points-based system going live across the UK next month”, said Matthew Goats, senior Home Office figure.

At the end of November Home Office will be launching the skilled worker tier (tier 2) and the temporary worker tier (tier 5), meaning employers must register as sponsors. By now, less than 300 organisations have been granted sponsorship licences. This leaves up to 60,000 employers still to apply, all of which risk breaking the law as soon as December.

Matthew Goats, director of immigration at the Home Office, said: "We’re satisfied with the number of employers applying to become sponsors. Not everyone will need foreign workers on day one of the new system."

Goats explained that many migrant employees’ current work permits would not run out for a few years, meaning there was no rush to move across to the new system. "The overlap between the old and new system will depend on individual workers, but we don’t anticipate there to be a big problem," he insisted.

Employers suspected of hiring migrant workers illegally could face fines of up to £10,000 per worker under the law introduced in February.

Under the points-based system, employers will need a sponsor licence to bring in skilled or temporary workers from outside the European Economic Area or Switzerland. You should make your application for a sponsor licence as soon as possible so the Home Office can make sure you get the earliest possible decision and minimise any delays to your recruitment process.

If you are concerned about the new immigration points-based system ring the UK Border Agency helpline on 08450106677 or visit www.bia.homeoffice.gov.uk.

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