Choosing a SOC code
Any sponsor that wants to employ a worker under Tier 2 must ensure that the work that the individual will carry out is a skilled role and that the most relevant Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code is selected. SOC codes are set out within Appendix J of the Immigration Rules: codes of practice for skilled workers.
The SOC codes are based on the SOC 2010 system designed by the Office for National Statistics and are designed to cover all possible jobs.
However, in the majority of circumstances, in order for an individual to qualify for sponsorship, the role must be a PhD level role or skilled to RQF level 6 or above.
The SOC codes set out the appropriate salary for each role along with example job tasks that are associated with the role.
The vast majority or SOC codes list two different salaries, a new entrant rate and an experienced worker rate.
In order to qualify for the new entrant rate, the worker to be sponsored must be applying for leave of no more than three years and must be under the age of 26 on the date that their application is made or switching into Tier 2 from the Tier 4 category. In almost all other cases, the individual must be paid an annual salary of at least £30,000 or the experienced worker rate for the role, whichever is higher.
Choosing the right SOC code
When choosing an SOC code, sponsors should look at the duties associated with the role and choose the closest match to the description for the job they are looking to sponsor a worker for.
There will not always be a clear match when choosing an SOC code, in which case a sponsor should choose the most appropriate code.
If the job for which a sponsored worker is required is a closer match to one of the SOC codes set out within the roles skilled below RQF level 6 or if the salary to be paid is too low, then a sponsor would not be able to employ a sponsored worker in the role.
The SOC codes are regularly amended and updated and sponsors should therefore always check that a code that has previously been used, is still the most appropriate for the role when sponsoring a new worker.
Implications of choosing the wrong SOC code
If the SOC code selected is not one that is eligible for sponsorship, this will result in the individual’s application for leave under Tier 2 being refused.
If the SOC code selected is one that is eligible for sponsorship, but it is not one that is suitable for the role then this could result in complications further along the sponsorship process.
If the wrong SOC code has been selected as a genuine error, it may be possible to rectify this. However, if the Home Office are of the opinion that the incorrect SOC code was selected in order to enable sponsorship, as the correct SOC code would not have met the salary or skill level required, then it is possible that the sponsor licence could be suspended whilst the Home Office investigate further.
Choosing a SOC code: How we can help
Our immigration experts are able to provide advice and guidance in relation to selecting an appropriate SOC code and sponsoring workers.
If your organisation requires legal assistance in this area or would just like to discuss your situation with a member of our team on a no-obligation basis, please contact us.