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Employing Staff from Overseas


In 2008, the points based system (PBS) for migrant and foreign national workers coming to the UK replaced the previous work permit arrangements. Under the PBS the University was awarded an ‘A’ grade licence; which requires us to satisfy a number of criteria including holding comprehensive information on foreign national or migrant workers which may be audited by HR and the UKBA on a 12 monthly basis.

What is the Points Based System (PBS)?

The Points Based System (PBS) replaced previous existing arrangements to work and study in the UK. The 5 tier system allows organisations to recruit the skills they need from abroad while providing assurances that only those migrants we need will be able to come to the UK.

Who does the system apply to?

The PBS applies to workers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. EU citizens are not affected. Some EU countries are in transitional arrangements (whilst Bulgarians and Romanians are nationals of the EEA, they are required to obtain authorisation before working in the UK unless exempt). Bulgarians and Romanians are not covered by the PBS but do require a work permit to work in the UK.

The Five Tiers

The number of points a migrant worker needs and the way the points are awarded will depend on the tier they are applying under (Tier 1 & 2 apply to GCU):

  • Tier 1 - Highly skilled workers
  • Tier 2 - Skilled workers with a job offer (applies to GCU roles, Grade 5 and above)
  • Tier 3 - Low skilled workers filling specific temporary labour shortages – currently suspended
  • Tier 4 – Students (please refer to
  • Tier 5 - Youth/Mobility and Temporary Workers. (This will include visiting academics however GCU does not currently hold a licence for Tier 5)

Tier 1

Tier 1 (General or Post Study Work) does not require sponsorship. The Migrant worker applying for a Tier 1 will obtain their own permits, can seek employment in the UK, and can take up self-employment and business opportunities here without a sponsor. They are not subject to the reporting arrangements listed below. Workers must pass the points based assessment which is assessed on: qualifications, future expected earnings, sponsorship, English language skills (mandatory) and available maintenance (funds, mandatory); 100 points are required.

N.B. This category is now closed to applicants who are outside the UK, and to migrants who are already here in most other immigration categories.

Tier 2

Tier 2 (General) is the skilled worker category for people coming to the United Kingdom with a job offer to fill a gap in the workforce that cannot be filled by a settled worker. Migrant workers under the Tier 2 route, as of 6th April, will now fall into two categories:

Restricted workers
CoS required (will be considered on a monthly basis by UKBA panel)
Unrestricted workers
CoS required, can be issued at any time
  • The migrant worker will be employed to do a graduate-level job
  • The resident labour market test has been conducted and met (unless exempt)
  • The annual salary for the job is above £20,000 but below £150,000
  • The migrant will apply from overseas and will score at least the minimum number of points required to obtain entry clearance/leave to remain.
  • Those are already in the UK under Tier 2 (General) or with a work permit, and want to extend their permission to stay
  • Changes of Employment
  • Switching Immigration Category
  • New hires earning over £150,000

The Role of the University

Recruitment & Selection

If the University wishes to recruit a migrant from outside the settled workforce for a skilled job that is not on the list of shortage occupations, we will only be able to do so if we can ensure the job is a genuine vacancy, complete a resident labour market test (RLMT) and can show that no suitably qualified settled worker can fill the job (if the RLMT is not met we cannot issue a certificate). The UKBA will audit GCU to ensure the recruitment & selection process meets all conditions.

The resident labour market test is the process an employer must follow before employing a person who is not a permanent resident of the United Kingdom. The employer is required to show that no resident worker could be found to take a job. All vacancies must be advertised to settled workers for 28 calendar days and must be advertised in the JobCentre Plus, the GCU website and using one other method (e.g.

Conditions that GCU must meet, in order to sponsor staff

Once the recruitment and selection process has taken place and a migrant worker has a job offer from GCU, they should access the points-based calculator which allows them to calculate how many points they have to see if they may be eligible to work in the United Kingdom under the PBS via either Tier 1 or 2:

A CoS can only be issued to an individual if there are no suitable settled workers that could perform the job or with reasonable training. In short, order to obtain a Certificate of Sponsorship, proof will be required that the post was advertised, details of the response, the number of candidates interviewed, and reasons why the resident worker applicants were unsuitable. However, if this is the case, we can give that non settled worker the option of obtaining a Tier 1 (General), Highly Skilled Worker. As detailed above, Tier 1 is the only tier that does not require sponsorship. Migrants applying for tier 1 obtain their own permits, can move from job to job without changing their permits, and are not subject to the reporting arrangements listed below. It is the candidate’s responsibility to apply for Tier 1 and pay the appropriate fee, although schools/departments may wish to support staff with the tier 1 application.

A Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is a ‘virtual document' assigned by an employer (which must be a licensed sponsor) to a migrant. The migrant must quote the certificate's reference number when applying for permission to work in the UK under Tier 2 of the points-based system. The migrant worker must still meet the conditions of their permission to enter or stay in the United Kingdom. A certificate must be issued within 6 months from the date the post is advertised.

If the migrant requires sponsorship, the HR Department is responsible for issuing Tier 2 (General) CoS on behalf of the University. Once the CoS application is made, it will be considered by a UKBA panel who meet on a monthly basis to consider applications (meet around 11th of each month to consider applications submitted prior to 5th each month). If the CoS is granted, the applicant must then pass the points based assessment in order to be able to obtain entry clearance/leave to remain which is assessed on; qualifications; future expected earnings; sponsorship; English language skills; and available maintenance (funds); a minimum of 70 points are required. For those not in the UK, they apply in their own country.

Line Manager’s reporting duties

The University is fully responsible for the actions of any migrant worker it employs. This is an important new feature, and affects the Business Areas as well as HR. For further information please refer to the overview of Points Based System for Line Mangers guide, or contact the HR Operations Team.

Sponsor duties are the responsibilities organisations have when they sponsor migrants under the points-based system. The duties are record keeping, reporting, compliance, co-operating with the UKBA and tier specific duties.

Glasgow Caledonian University is a registered Scottish charity, number SC021474

Updated: 13 April, 2012 | Site editor | Legal