The UK is home to more than 6 million businesses, and it is one of the very start-up friendly countries. As of 2020, around 2.7 million businesses in the UK were registered either for VAT (value-added tax) or PAYE (pay as you earn), meaning those companies were likely to be hiring employees. With 2.7 million companies hiring, why would you not be getting jobs, right?
In reality, It is not that simple. In order to hire a foreign national, a UK company needs to hold a valid sponsorship license. Before Brexit, companies would also have to go through a residence labour market test (RLMT) to hire a non-EU citizen, but it is not a requirement anymore. Currently, more than 32,000 companies in the UK hold a sponsorship license. However, it represents only 1.2% of businesses that hire staff. Surprised? When you put things into perspective, results can be surprising. Now you might be thinking 32,000 is still a quite large number, so it must be easy to find a visa sponsoring employer. Then, why are you still not being employed in the UK? Why do you often see companies saying they do not provide sponsorship even if they are one of the 32,000 license holders?
There are several reasons for this. First of all, hiring a foreign national incurs extra costs. For example, to hire a foreign national, a company may need to pay a certificate of sponsorship fee, immigration skills charge, immigration health surcharge, visa application fees, solicitor fees etc. If a company hires a foreign national on a permanent contract, they need to spend at least £10,000 extra than hiring a local person. £10,000 is a pretty big expense for the majority of those companies. In addition, to employ a foreigner, a position needs to meet a certain salary threshold. That’s why you do not see many entry-level jobs or admin, marketing, PR or HR jobs that hire foreign nationals. In many cases, expenses of doing so do not justify what the companies get in return. For graduate jobs, too, most companies prefer hiring students who are already in the UK on a student visa, as there is no need to pay immigration skills charges for hiring them.
Secondly, the time involved in hiring someone can be long. If a company urgently needs someone, they often go for a UK national or someone who has their own right to work in the UK. To hire a foreign national, a company has to complete a lengthy visa application process, background checks and relocation, which can take anywhere between 2 months to 5 months. Also, there is still a chance of a person not passing the background check or not being granted a visa.
Thirdly, for some positions, a company can only hire locals due to security clearance or other regulatory reasons. For example, although some technology, civil engineering or consulting firms have valid sponsorship licenses, they work with the government or other organisations that are directly linked to national security or that deal with sensitive information. In these cases, companies do not provide sponsorship for certain positions.
Due to the time and cost involved in hiring someone who does not have a valid permit to work in the UK, many companies only provide sponsorship if they struggle to find a suitable candidate from the local market or there is a known skills shortage in their industry. Very typical examples are healthcare, IT and engineering jobs. Although there is an increasing demand for healthcare professionals or engineers, the local UK market does not have enough people to meet the demand. That’s why many organisations in these sectors are willing to provide visa sponsorship.
However, not everyone wants to work in healthcare or engineering because these industries require you to have a specific background and education. There are many other occupations where foreign nationals are very common. Those industries include accounting, professional services, consulting, financial services, insurance, oil & gas, civil engineering, legal services and technology companies. If you are keen to find a visa sponsoring job in the UK, you may start from these industries. If you think you do not have specific required skills, you can always spend time developing those skills on your own and by attending online courses.
Some people may consider knocking on the door of those 32,000 companies one by one, sending them emails and asking for jobs. This approach can be very time-consuming, and by the time you have finished the list, you might as well need to retire and don’t need a job anymore. That’s why UK Visa Jobs is a brilliant platform for searching for visa sponsoring jobs in the UK. Though UK Visa Jobs does not include all positions that sponsor a work visa, at least jobs on UK Visa Jobs are verified, and they all hire foreign nationals and provide sponsorship, saving you massive time and effort.