Is Brexit ready? No big rise in businesses getting sponsor licenses

From January 2021, all going to plan, EU free movement will end and employers who want to recruit from overseas will need a licence to sponsor people for work visas. While the government has made it possible for businesses to apply for a sponsor licence ahead of time, the concern is that not enough are prepared for the nasty shock of having to use the sponsorship system to hire someone from France, Germany or Spain.

New data suggests that concern is well placed. The number of organisations holding a Tier 2 sponsor licence has been drifting up, but there has not been the significant rise that one might expect to see if all businesses that recruit from EU countries were getting their sponsor licences in place. As of Q2 2020 there were 29,300 Tier 2 sponsor licence holders, up by about 3% from a year earlier.

The number of new applications for a sponsor licence has been pretty much flat and actually fell in the most recent quarter, although that can safely be put down to the pandemic. It may be that the economy is not sufficiently back to normal by January for a sudden inability to hire from mainland Europe to matter as much as it otherwise would.

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