Further details published of new immigration system

by | Aug 25, 2020

Details of new immigration scheme published

31 December 2020 marks the end of the UK’s transition period for leaving the EU, and free movement will end. We reported in June on the Home Office guidance on the proposed points-based immigration scheme, which will come into effect on 1 January 2021.

Last month, the Home Office published a policy paper, UK points-based immigration system: further details statement. This builds on earlier publications and gives more detail on the draft requirements and conditions of the new scheme. Irish citizens will be exempt from the new scheme, but it will otherwise apply to all EU and non-EU nationals.

The statement includes a welcome change to more simple terminology. Rather than referring to different tiers of immigration category, tier 2 is now called the skilled worker category and tier 4 is the student category.

The changes to the process, at least in relation to the skilled worker route, have been broadly welcomed as it should be quicker and less burdensome. There will be no cap on the number of workers coming into the UK through this route. The Government has made it clear that it reserves the right to reimpose a cap at any time. 

To employ skilled workers, employers need to be sponsors. Employers who are currently tier 2 sponsors, will automatically be granted a skilled worker licence. The new licence will expire on the same date as the existing licence. There will be no need to complete a resident labour market test before sponsoring a worker. However, one area still lacking in detail is the new requirement for sponsors to prove that they are filling a genuine vacancy in the UK.

The Government has indicated that a highly skilled worker route will be introduced in the future, but this is not expected until at least 2022. This will allow the most highly skilled migrants to come to the UK without sponsorship or a job offer. This route will be in addition to the skilled worker route. Unlike for skilled workers, the numbers are likely to be capped.

The end of the transition period is getting close. If your business recruits EU nationals, but you are not currently a sponsor, we can help you apply for a licence.

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.

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