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Despite the significant benefits offered by overseas recruitment, navigating the ever-changing policies, Home Office guide lines and procedures can often cause some reluctance for many employers in the care sector to embark on an overseas recruitment campaign. The dos and don’ts, rights and wrongs and pros and cons seem to change all too frequently which makes keeping on top of current policy and Home Office regulations is a challenging exercise for even the most experienced of compliance coordinators, but for the novice, it is can appear an almost impossible task.

However, with the right help and guidance it needn’t be the minefield it appears and can quickly pay dividends in reducing your contingent labour costs and reducing staff turnover to a minimum.

Getting knee deep in overseas recruitment

Whether you’re just starting out and looking to apply for your Tier 2 Sponsorship license or you’re already knee deep in an overseas recruitment campaign, having the right partners, both internal and external, to provide expert advice and guidance is essential to a smooth, ethical, and sometimes even lawful international recruitment campaign. With the ever-changing policies, countries moving from the red, amber or green list plus weekly updates and advice from the Home Office, having someone in place to manage this is perhaps the most vital ingredient to ensure success.

From the outset, the Home Office stance on issuing visas for specific skills can often be confusing. Our own experience with our clients in the Care Sector suggests this is an area which causes a huge amount of concern with the most common questions being:

  • How long will “X” visa remain on the skills shortage list?

  • What will happen to my workers if it is removed?

  • What length of Visa should I apply for?

  • Does my role qualify for “X” Visa

  • Is the skills charge refundable in the event my worker returns home?

The answer to these questions, and many others, can change frequently such is the fluidity of the guidelines which makes process compliance something of a moving target. Having access to a skilled immigration lawyer whose main job it is to keep abreast of current and future potential legislation is key to being able to make an informed and educated decision on how you proceed and particularly important if any unforeseen complications emerge needing fast access to skilled advice.

Fig 1: The Harley Medical recommended process flow for undertaking an overseas recruitment campaign

Small wording changes can make all the difference

It is also good practice to regularly review the job descriptions documents you supply to agents in the UK and overseas for the roles you are actively recruiting for. Small wording changes can make all the difference in requested DCoS’s either being awarded quickly (within 5 days in our experience) and being declined or more information or clarification on the role being asked for. In some cases, where senior or supervisory staff are required, the Home Office may request you be more specific in the Job Description as to who they are supervising and to what level the supervisory responsibility extends. This is something of a grey area and a correct and effective response requires an expert eye to avoid your application being denied. In the event of a denial for DCoS’s, the entire recruitment project will stall whilst the role and responsibilities documents are re written. This is hugely labour intensive so it is essential to get it right the first time to avoid undue scrutiny in the future.

Another common area of confusion is the period following a candidate’s arrival in the UK and the Home Office requirements in relation to the period of onboarding and starting work. There currently remains some ambiguities in this respect which although are being addressed by the Home Office, need careful guidance to fully understand.

Aside from UK policy which needs to be followed to the letter, it is also helpful to have a clear understanding of the laws and regulations of the county from which you are recruiting. Falling foul of recruitment laws on the subcontinent and other regions can again be damaging to the project – both reputational and financial- and set your campaign back by months if not fully understood. Each country, or even each region within a country may have different levels of acceptability when it comes to allowing their citizens to emigrate for work.

Whilst most ethical UK employers have an exceptional reputation overseas for workers’ rights and the working environments they provide, there are still many boxes which need to be ticked in order to avoid contravening local laws and in some cases customs laws. It is also prudent to seek counsel from an agent with experience in each location of source prior to interviewing.

Engaging with a specialist agency and appointing an experienced project lead can make a world of difference to ease and speed with which a successful overseas recruitment campaign successfully delivers and will give you the confidence that your processes are not only lawful but also respectful of regional traditions and cultures.

Needless to say, overseas compliance experts and immigration lawyers can be expensive whereas engaging with a reputable and experienced agency who already have these key individuals in place can make all the difference and give you the peace of mind you need whilst keeping the costs at an affordable level. Couple this with the long term savings overseas hires are proven to make, the short-term investment made now can typically be repaid 5-fold in a short period of time.

Finding the right overseas recruitment partners

At Harley Medical we engage with the Home Office frequently and retain our own in-house legal counsel to monitor the frequent Home Office changes and make sure our client's policies and procedures are fully up to date and conform to the latest guidelines. Our compliance team make sure the countries we operate in remain on the list of acceptable countries to recruit from and that any additional documentation is always requested. We liaise regularly with all of our clients to keep them fully informed and make sure they too are aware of any changes that may have taken place.

From time to time, recruiting from overseas will invariably mean an audit by the Home Office. These audits need not be as concerning as they may sound, especially if all guidelines have been adhered to. Harley Medical work hand in glove with all of our clients during these times to assist in promptly supplying all requested information. We are proud to say, all audits of our clients to date have resulted in a clean bill of health and ultimately the continuation of the Tier 2 sponsorship licence they hold.

Common sense advocates that speaking to a specialist agency before you embark on an overseas recruitment project, firstly to get the latest, most up to date information on current Home Office requirements and also, if you do not already have a license, to get advice and guidance on completing your sponsorship application, is both diligent and prudent.

The benefits of overseas recruitment in reducing contingent labour costs and reducing workforce churn are well proven and there are plenty of successful case studies for reference so how you navigate your way through the complexities and protocols of overseas recruitment shouldn’t cause any reluctance to start your campaign.

Harley Medical and our team of experts welcome the opportunity to speak to you about your plans and we can offer free advice on the best way forward. Just reach out to us on the contact details below for a chat at any time.

To start a dialogue or request more information please email: or call 0203 488 4776

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