April 2020 Home Office updates: Post-Brexit immigration system
As part of post-Brexit plans for business, we recommended that those businesses who do not have a sponsor licence to recruit skilled workers from outside of the UK, apply for one in advance of the new immigration system that will come into effect from 1 January 2021.
This message was re-iterated in the Home Office policy statement on 19 February 2020. Since then, the Home Office updated their Tier 2 and 5 Sponsor Guidance on 6 April 2020 to recognise the “new point-based system” and reflect the changes that promise to be “less restrictive” for employers.
What does the guidance say?
From January 2021 the key changes to be introduced under the new immigration system sees:
- the reduction of the skills level from Level 6 (Degree) to Level 3 (A-level) or above of the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF);
- the lowering of the minimum general salary threshold from £30,000 to £25,600;
- no more Resident Labour Market Test.
It additionally gives instruction in the newly inserted Annex 9 of the sponsor guidance on how to make a sponsor licence application, eligibility requirements with focus on genuineness of employment, and what to be aware of on approval as well as how to assign certificate of sponsorship to roles at RQF level 3 and above.
Applications under the new system are set to be accepted from Autumn 2020.
What does this mean for my businesses?
With the new immigration system fast approaching, businesses need to be conscious that they will not be able to employ their EU workers in the same way as before. Both new EU staff and non-EU employees from 2021 will be treated the same and will require sponsorship unless they can, and have, registered for status under the government’s EU Settlement Scheme.
The new system supports lower-skilled professions and may be less restrictive compared to the current system. However, with more companies and organisations requiring a sponsor licence, there will inevitably be much more scrutiny on business to demonstrate a genuine need to recruit from outside of the UK, with the expectation that the current list of around 30,000 sponsors is set to double.
What should I do now to prepare for the new immigration system coming into force?
- Encourage your current EU employees to register under the EU Settlement Scheme;
- Bring work assignments forward where possible, and before 31 December 2020;
- Determine the local rules and process for registration for UK employees working in the EU to register employees;
- Assess future recruitment needs; and
- Apply for a sponsor licence if you do not already have one.