The UK’s NEW Points Based Visa System is good news for teachers needing sponsorship.
Good news! Being sponsored to teach in a British school has become more streamlined and easier.
From January 2021, The UK government has changed its immigration policy and like Australia, has adopted a Points Based Visa System. The old Tier 2 General Migrant Visa is out the door and the new Skilled Worker visa has taken its place.
Read on to find out more about the positive changes, but first, here is some background on sponsorship.
The Old Sponsorship Process
Teach in has always tried to assist international teachers who needed to be sponsored in order to work in a UK school. It has been relatively easy for those that teach shortage subject areas, but much harder for non-shortage profession teachers.
Shortage Profession Teachers (Feb 2021) are: Secondary education teaching professionals – only teachers in maths, physics, science (where an element of physics will be taught), computer science and Mandarin. The school needs a sponsorship licence, but other than the cost and time involved, the process was relatively straight forward.
For all those deemed Non-Shortage Profession Teachers, gaining sponsorship has been nothing short of a nightmare! Previous rules meant that only a set number of Certificates of Sponsorship were allocated each month and the salary of each applicant determined who were sponsored and who missed out. As you can imagine, teachers’ salaries lagged a long way behind those of Stock Brokers, Engineers and Lawyers, and as a result they were very rarely successful. Schools also previously had to prove they could not find anyone through advertising in two national publications before they could apply to Sponsor someone, so again this made it tricky.
The New Points Based System
The new Points Based System makes the process more equitable and the monthly allocation caps have been abolished!
Schools will still need a Sponsorship Licence to employ an international teacher, and the teacher will need to meet the points required to be eligible, but if they do, then the application should be processed without issue.
Here are the current requirements to meet the Points Based System, and be able to be sponsored and then apply and gain a Skilled Worker Visa.
Under the Skilled Worker route, anyone you want to hire from outside the UK will need to demonstrate that:
- they have a job offer from a Home Office licensed sponsor
- the job offer is at the required skill level – RQF 3 or above (A Level and equivalent)
- they speak English to the required standard
In addition to this, the job offer must meet the applicable minimum salary threshold. This is the higher of either:
- the general salary threshold of £25,600, or
- the specific salary requirement for their occupation, known as the ‘going rate’
Once a school has paid it’s fees to the government and successfully gained a Certificate of Sponsorship, the teacher can apply for a Skilled Migrant Visa.
How much does it cost to apply and gain a Skilled Worker Visa
If you are a Shortage Profession teacher, the visa ( up to 3 years) costs £464. If you are not a shortage profession teacher, the cost is £610 for a three year visa. In addition teachers have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge at the time they apply for a visa. This is £624 per year your visa is issued for, and gives you access to the National Health Service while you are in the UK. You also need to show you have at least £1,270 available funds in your bank account, unless your school has said they will guarantee they will be responsible for maintaining you while in the UK.
If I am sponsored can I bring my spouse or children?
Yes, but they will pay the same fees as you to gain a dependent visa, including the Immigration Health Surcharge and the show of available funds. They will have UK working or schooling rights while your visa is valid.
Can I switch from another visa to a Skilled Migrant Visa in the UK, or do I have to come home to apply?
You can now apply in the UK and no longer need to come home to gain your new visa.
Can I do other work, while being sponsored by a school?
Yes, up to 20 hours in the same type of job that you are being sponsored for, or in a “shortage profession” or work in a volunteer capacity.
How long does the visa take to be processed?
The school side of the process takes about 4-6 weeks and your side takes about the same amount of time, so being proactive is important!
If you want to talk to us about gaining sponsorship to work in a British school, we’d love to hear from you.
Please be aware that new graduate teachers in non-shortage areas or teachers with experience only in education systems outside of the Canada, Australia, Ireland or New Zealand will rarely be sponsored, even under the new points based system. This is because the process for schools is time consuming, costly and involves a long-term commitment. Schools will generally look for local candidates with UK experience and international teachers on other visa’s before considering sponsoring teachers, and will only appoint those trained in similar education systems.
For the most up to date information on visas for the UK always check the Gov.UK site.