One in 10 apply for sponsorship licence to employ skilled migrant workers

With less than two months to go before the shake-up of skilled migrant worker laws, just one in 10 HR directors have applied for a sponsorship licence, a survey has found.

Research by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 88% of 170 HR directors polled still have not applied for a sponsorship license, which is required to employ non-European migrant workers under the new points-based system. Directors who fail to implement illegal working laws leave themselves open to possible prison sentences and their firms open to fines of £10,000 per employee.

More than half the HR directors said the main reason for not registering was because of concerns at checking internal processes. Additionally, 60% said they doubted they had systems in place to track the basic information required by the UK Borders Agency (UKBA).

Julia Onslow-Cole, partner and head of global immigration, PricewaterhouseCoopers Legal LLP, said: “The deadline for registration to be ready for the new system is October 2008, and companies need to act now to ensure they are registered to recruit from overseas, or face the consequences of not having access to a pipeline of foreign talent.”

“Currently, UKBA will only guarantee that sponsorship applications received by 1 October will be processed in time, leaving companies facing additional HR challenges at a time of uncertain economic conditions.”

Late last month, just 168 employers had been given licences to employ migrant workers under the new immigration rules.

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