Any non-EEA national seeking entry or permission to remain in the UK for the purpose of employment may need to apply under Tier 2 of the Points Based System via an approved UK Visas and Immigration Sponsor. The Tier 2 (General) route is open to foreign nationals who have been offered a skilled role by a UK employer who has been unable to fill the skilled role with an EEA worker. Applications for permits can only be made by UK-based employers on behalf of the person they wish to employ (and not by the person themselves). Employers must ensure that the role for which they are recruiting is sufficiently skilled and the salary which is being offered is at a minimum level. In some cases, the employer will need to show that no EEA nationals are suitable for the post. This will usually be achieved by the employer advertising the post in the EEA for at least four weeks and not being able to recruit any appropriate candidates from the resident labour force. For roles with a gross annual salary over £152,100 (from 6 April 2013) and those with shortage skills, the advertising requirement may be waived. A monthly quota applies to certain Tier 2 (General) applications. An initial period of three years will be granted with the ability to extend at the end of that period. The Tier 2 (General) route can lead to settlement after five years’ lawful residence.
EEA nationals have the right to enter, remain in and work in the UK without a work permit. This is with the exception of Bulgarian and Romanian nationals who do not currently have an automatic right to work in the UK. In most cases, employers will need to apply to UK Visas and Immigration for a work permit allowing them to employ Bulgarian and Romanian nationals in suitably skilled roles. The individuals themselves must then apply for a worker accession card, unless they are exempt, showing their right to work in the UK. The restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian nationals are expected to cease at the end of 2013. Further, Croatian nationals have the right to enter and remain, but not to work, in the UK without permission for a period of up to three months. However, unless a Croatian national has already been lawfully working in the UK for at least 12 months on the date of accession (1 July 2013) they will need to be sponsored by an employer under the PBS. In order to be granted a certificate of sponsorship, employers and Croatian nationals will, therefore, have to show that the role is sufficiently skilled and well paid.