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Sponsors' guide to Standard Occupational Classification Codes

10 October 2023

Sponsors must consider several requirements when hiring migrant workers, one of which is ensuring that the role into which they are recruiting a migrant worker meets the required skill level.

To demonstrate to the Home Office that the role in question is eligible for sponsorship and meets the requirements set out in the immigration legislation – including skill level and minimum salary requirement – sponsors need to match the role with the relevant Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code.

What are SOC codes?

A SOC code is a 4-digit occupation code developed by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Each role is assigned a unique SOC code that allows Home Office to understand the nature of the role, the required skillset, as well as the applicable going rate and salary threshold.

Appendix Skilled Occupations includes all the eligible SOC codes and their going rates for Skilled Worker route, Global Business Mobility and Scale-up routes. Sponsors must always make sure that the role in question matches an SOC code featured on the list, and that the selected code is eligible for sponsorship under the relevant route.

How to find the correct SOC code?

Allocating the correct SOC code for the role is a crucial step when sponsoring a migrant worker. Sponsors should first review the job description and check whether it matches with any of the codes on the relevant list.

To do so, sponsors can use the ONS online occupation coding tool. This tool offers further insight as to the most common duties associated with the particular code, relevant job titles or entry requirements.

Sponsors should always focus on identifying the code that reflects the role, especially its day-to-day duties and responsibilities. The job title may not always seem to be the right fit, but the daily duties are essential to align.

Once the suitable code is chosen, sponsors can proceed to assign a Certificate of Sponsorship to a worker.

What if I chose the wrong SOC code?

It is the sponsor’s responsibility to select the right occupation code, and this is a task that should not be taken lightly. Opting for the wrong SOC code can cause issues to both the migrant worker and the sponsor licence holder.

The migrant worker’s visa application may be delayed or even refused. Moreover, if the Home Office has reasons to suspect that the vacancy is not genuine, or that the sponsor provided false information, this can trigger a compliance visit and ultimately result in the suspension or revocation of the sponsor licence.

If you need more information on this – or on management of your sponsor licence more generally – please speak to our expert business immigration solicitors.

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Our Legal 500-rated employment law & business immigration team are experts in guiding businesses of all sizes and backgrounds through a range of issues that may arise, including those related to sponsorship.

Disclaimer: All legal information is correct at the time of publication but please be aware that laws may change over time. This article contains general legal information but should not be relied upon as legal advice. Please seek professional legal advice about your specific situation - contact us; we’d be delighted to help.
Klára Grmelová MGR (LLM Czech)
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