The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has this week announced further details of the UK’s new points based immigration system, read more to find out the key points and what your business should be doing now.
The new points based system will take effect from 1 January 2021 and effectively brings to an end the freedom of movement within the EU.
As part of these post-Brexit era immigration plans, applicants wishing to work and live in the UK will need a minimum of 70 points.
Criteria under which points can be earned include:
Having a job offer from an “approved employer” at an “appropriate skill level”
Holding a PhD or other qualification relevant to the role
Earning more than £25,600 pa (there are lower minimum thresholds for e.g. shortage occupations)
Shortage occupations like nursing or engineering also qualify for extra points.
A new fast-track health and care visa system will be introduced to provide a route for key health worker professionals to work in the UK; however, this will not apply to workers in the care industry the government have announced. There will also be a new Global Talent Scheme which will be open for EU, EEA and Swiss citizens which will allow highly-skilled scientists and researchers to come to the UK without a job offer.
Persistent offenders or those sentenced to a year or more in prison will be banned from entering the UK.
At present, the government does not plan on introducing a general low skilled or temporary work route for migrant workers, but is running a pilot scheme for seasonal agriculture workers.
What should employers do now?
All businesses employing EU citizens arriving from 1 January 2021 will have to apply for a sponsorship licence or a “Skilled Worker Licence” as it will be known under the new regime.
This means as many as 900,000 businesses could be affected by the changes, which is expected to place a huge strain on Home Office resources and an already overwhelmed immigration system.
Businesses should plan for the amount of time it will take to obtain a licence if they do not already hold one. There is, on average, an eight week processing time after the application has been submitted and with an already overwhelmed immigration system and the delays caused by Covid – 19, businesses face a real risk of being unable to recruit the talent they need, if they do not start the process now.
Employers should also budget for additional fees for the licence, as well as an immigration skills charge of up to £5,000 per worker.
Sponsorship Licences bring with them onerous reporting and recording obligations and employers who have not yet obtained a licence will need to ensure that they understand their obligations under the highly regulated sponsorship regime, with detailed compliance rules.
Register NOW for a Skilled Worker Licence to beat the inevitable rush in the build up to the new system coming into effect;
Protect any sponsorship licence you currently have by investing in Compliance Training, and;
For existing EU workers in the UK , companies should ensure their staff already know what they need to do to register under the EU settlement scheme and assist them in registering if needs be.
Consistent with our policy when giving comment and advice on a non-specific basis, we cannot assume legal responsibility for the accuracy of any particular statement. In the case of specific problems we recommend that professional advice be sought.