If you are a multinational business with plans to employ a non-EU national to work in a UK-based branch of your company you may be unable to do so from November 2008 unless you have first registered with the UK Border Agency (UKBA) as a sponsor.

In the biggest shake up of UK immigration control for years, the UK government has introduced a points-based system for controlling migrant workers who are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss nationals wishing to work in the United Kingdom.

The skilled and temporary worker tiers of this points-based system is due to be launched next month. To employ a migrant worker in either category, however, your business must have a sponsorship license. As UKBA is expecting a bottleneck in sponsorship applications this month and next, employers wishing to employ migrant workers under these tiers in late 2008 through early 2009 are advised to apply for a sponsor license as soon as possible.

Essentially, if you wish to become a sponsor, even if not in the immediate future, you must become licensed. You will need to visit the UKBA website to file an online application.

For advice on how to complete your application and maintain your license once granted, and for any further advice, including the civil and criminal penalties that might be enforced against you if you employ an illegal migrant worker, please contact Diane E. Mills, a lawyer in the Squire Sanders London office who focuses her practice on labor and immigration issues.