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From 1 January 2021, free movement will end and the UK will introduce a points-based immigration system. The new system will treat EU and non-EU citizens equally and transform the way in which all migrants come to the UK to work.

Employers will need a sponsor licence if they want to recruit EU and non-EU citizens under most of the work routes, although some applicants will qualify under the non-sponsored routes in their own right.

Steps to becoming an approved Sponsor

  1. The business must check they are eligible.
  2. They must decide on the type of license they want to obtain – Tier 2 skilled workers with long term job offers, Tier 5 skilled temporary workers or both.
  3. Appoint key staff who will manage the Sponsor Licence.
  4. Complete the relevant online form and pay the appropriate fee.

The Home Office has stated that the new immigration routes, such as the skilled worker route, will open from autumn 2020 for applications from those who wish to work in the UK from 1 January 2021.

Businesses without a sponsor licence in place need to apply now so that they are in place before 1 January 2021. Due to Covid-19, backlogs of applications are causing delays in processing. We would therefore encourage employers to submit their Sponsor Licence Applications at the earliest point to avoid any continuity issues as the new immigration system comes into force.

We have a dedicated team who can assist you step by step through the Sponsor Licence application process and provide you with all the information your business needs to know to be ready for these changes, contact us for more information.
Immigration routes under the new immigration system

EU citizen 

This points-based system will not affect any EU citizens and their family members who are living in the UK by 31st December 2020. The EU Settlement Scheme is open until 30 June 2021 for EU citizens and their family members to make an application.

Skilled worker

A skilled worker will need to demonstrate they can attain at least 70 points under the new system in order to work in the UK. Notable changes that have introduced under the new scheme include :

  1. Removal of cap on number of skilled workers.
  2. Scrapping of the Resident Labour Market Test.
  3. Reduction of the minimum salary threshold; and
  4. Introduction of ‘tradeable points’ where the role does not meet the minimum salary threshold but the role is a shortage occupation role or the applicant has a relevant PhD.

How are points awarded?

  1. Having a job offer from an approved sponsor [20 points].
  2. The job must be at the skill level RQF 3 or above (note under the old system the skill level is currently RQF 6) [20 points].
  3. They can speak English [10 points] enter how they evidence this i.e. English language test/UK NARIC with link to knowledge of English Language.
  4. Tradeable points [20 points] see below.

The following diagram show how the points system will work : extracted from ‘Policy paper -The UK’s points-based immigration system: policy statement – Published 19 February 2020

Characteristics Tradeable Points
Offer of job by approved sponsor No 20
Job at appropriate skill level No 20
Speaks English at required level No 10
Salary of £20,480 (Minimum) – £23,039 Yes 0
Salary of £23,040 – £25,599 Yes 10
Salary of £25,600 or above Yes 20
Job in a shortage occupation (as designated by the MAC) Yes 20
Education qualification: PhD in subject relevant to job Yes 10
Education qualification: PhD in a stem subject relevant to job Yes 20

Highly skilled workers

The Global Talent route will allow those who achieve the required level of points, to enter the UK without a job offer or they are endorsed by the relevant competent body.

The Home Office have indicated that in the long term, they will create an unsponsored route for highly skilled workers, which will allow a small number of the most highly skilled workers to come to the UK without a job offer.

Lower skilled workers 

As the new system provides greater flexibility for employers with lower salary and skills threshold, there will be no specific route for lower skilled workers. Additionally, employers will be able to hire lower skilled workers via the youth mobility route.

Scientist, Graduates, and NHS workers 

Initiatives are being brought forward which will allow employers additional flexibility on sponsoring scientist, Graduates and NHS workers The Home Office has given details of a fast-track entry system for doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. Those eligible for this visa will pay reduced fees and will be supported through the application process, with decisions expected to be given within 3 weeks.

Home Office costs explained

Skilled workers will pay a £610 application fee – or £1,220 for stays of more than three years – if applying for a visa from outside the UK. This falls to £464 or £928 for stays over three years for shortage occupations. They must also pay the Immigration Health Surcharge to use the NHS, which is rising to £624 per year from October 2020. In addition, employers must also pay an “immigration skills charge” of £1,000 per worker per year. Discounted rates of £364 per year will apply as they do now to charities and Small and Medium Enterprises.

We are here to help in any way we can

Should you need any additional information, consultation, or guidance, please do contact us as we would be delighted to assist you.

Additionally, if you would like to have a virtual coffee with any of our immigration experts, please contact us we would be happy to arrange this.

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