If you want to sponsor an individual under a Skilled Worker sponsor licence, then minimum rates of pay apply. These rates can vary according to job role. However, if the individual you want to sponsor meets the definition of a ‘New Entrant’, then much lower rates apply, so it’s worth understanding how the New Entrant rate works.
But first the basics – work out the right SOC code
All jobs fall under a certain code, known as an SOC code. So, your first task is to identify the correct code. If you are not sure, then head to the Office for National Statistics’ website, and their helpful search code tool.
Once you have the appropriate SOC code, check what the applicable minimum rate of pay is – known as the ‘going rate’. We do this by checking the tables in Appendix Skilled Occupations. You will note that there is a sliding scale of going rates. The default, the highest rate, is for an ‘Experienced Worker’. There are then certain reductions, depending on the circumstances of the individual you want to sponsor. The best reduction is if the individual qualifies as a New Entrant.
Who qualifies as a New Entrant?
The most common three ways of being a New Entrant are if the individual being sponsored:
- Is under 26 by the time they apply for their Skilled Worker visa;
- Is a ‘recent graduate’ – meaning someone whose current or most recent grant of leave was as a Student/Tier 4, and that leave expired not more than two years prior to the date of the visa application. The individual must have been studying at degree level or above, and: (a) has completed the course, (b) is applying no more than three months prior to expected completion, or (c)is studying a PhD and has completed at least 12 months’ study in the UK towards that PhD; or
- Holds valid permission to stay under the Graduate route or their most recent grant was under the Graduate route which expired less than two years prior to the date the new visa application is being submitted (unless the individual has since held leave as a visitor).
How does being a New Entrant affect the minimum salary?
If an individual qualifies for sponsorship as a New Entrant, then the employer must pay just 70% of the standard going rate, or the reduced general minimum salary threshold for New Entrants, whichever is higher.
Whereas the general minimum salary threshold is normally £25,600, for New Entrants it is just £20,480.
Here we can look at how being a New Entrant affects the minimum rate of pay for a couple of randomly chosen occupations. First of all, we will look at some examples for an ‘Experienced Worker’ (i.e. someone who is not a New Entrant or does not meet certain other criteria which offers discount), before looking at how the minimum rates of pay for the same SOC codes apply for a New Entrant.
Examples of Experienced Worker rates for Skilled Worker Sponsorship:
|Job category||Going rate – Experienced Worker||General minimum salary – Experienced Worker||Minimum you would pay if an Experienced Worker (i.e. higher of the two)|
|Human Resources Manager||£36,400||£25,600||£36,400|
However, if we look at jobs for a New Entrant, you can see the minimum pay rate is significantly less:
Examples of New Entrant rates for Skilled Worker Sponsorship
|Job category||Going rate – New Entrant||General minimum salary New Entrant||Minimum you would pay if a New Entrant (i.e. higher of the two)||Comparing Experienced Worker vs New Entrant|
|Human Resources Manager||£25,480||£20,480||£25,480||£36,400
£25,480 (New Entrant)
As you can see from the above tables, being a New Entrant can make a big difference to minimum rates of pay.
Please note that the above rates are based on a 39-hour week. You must guarantee the above amounts even if the individual works fewer than 39 hours per week. The going rate increases if the individual will work more than 39 hours. However (confusingly), the general minimum rates apply for up to 48 hours per week.
New Entrants – what else do I need to know?
Importantly, you can only be a New Entrant for up to four years. This is problematic if you had intended to sponsor the individual for five years in the first instance – as you won’t be able to sponsor them for this long on New Entrant rates. You could sponsor them for four years relying on the lower New Entrant rate, but after four years you would need to sponsor them at the higher ‘experienced rate’.
Lastly, if you sponsor an individual relying on the New Entrant rate, then the Home Office want you to leave a Sponsor Note through your Sponsor Management System, by giving a brief explanation of how the individual meets the New Entrant criteria.
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