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The new immigration system still set to come into force from 2021

The new immigration system still set to come into force from 2021

Following the Home Office April updates, despite the challenges the UK has faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Home Office still very much intends to go ahead with the new points-based immigration system from January 2021

The Home Office released information for employers on the UK’s points based immigration system on 9 April, encouraging businesses who want to recruit from outside of the UK labour market to apply for a sponsor licence “now, if they think they will want to sponsor skilled migrants”.

What else does the 9 April guidance say?

The new system will treat all non-UK nationals (including EU nationals) the same, unless they have not entered the UK before 31 December 2020 but have permission to remain in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme, known as pre-settled or settled status.

The key elements of the new points-based system for skilled workers requires that they have a job offer at the appropriate skills level and meet a salary threshold (£25,600) while satisfying an English language requirement.

Points-based system – tradeable points

The difference with the current Tier 2 system for skilled workers is the introduction of ‘tradable’ points. If a prospective employee’s job is at PhD level, or on the government’s Shortage Occupation List, they can still be eligible for a work visa as long as they can score a total of 70 points (despite having a lower salary of no less than £20,480). Full details of the new system is also outlined in the government’s policy paper published on 19 February and our blog on what the UK’s new immigration policy says.

There is also a highly skilled route available to those without a job offer who can achieve the required level of points with an endorsement by a relevant competent body.

No visas for low skilled workers

There is no visa route for ‘low skilled’ occupations, for example in social care, hospitality and retail sectors, where businesses heavily rely on EU workers today. The Home Office have lowered the skills level from Degree level to A-level equivalent to allow certain roles to apply under the skilled worker route, but there are still several occupations such as carers, cleaners, drivers, retail and teaching assistants that simply do not make the cut - ironically at a time when the COVID-19 health crisis highlights the necessity for these “essential workers”.

What will the new immigration system mean for UK business?

For UK businesses that heavily rely on EU workers, they should be supporting staff to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme. In addition they should be putting the wheels in motion to apply to the Home Office for a Sponsor Licence to permit them to recruit from outside of the UK. Free movement is set to end this year, so it is essential that businesses are making plans today in readiness for the new immigration system coming into force from January 2021.

How we can support your business to become an approved Home Office sponsor

We can help and support your business by ensuring:-

  • Your business is eligible;
  • You have the correct HR processes in place;
  • You apply for the appropriate licence for your business;
  • You select suitable staff to manage your licence; and
  • You understand your sponsor compliance duties.

COVID-19 has instigated even more uncertainty for UK businesses, but with the new immigration system still very much on the government’s schedule for early 2021, businesses must plan their recruitment processes and budgets today in order to ensure business stability and continuity in the years ahead.

Contact us
For further guidance and support, speak to Tijen Ahmet in our business immigration team

Shakespeare Martineau has launched a free legal helpline, with a team of experts on hand for any queries on family and private matters. We are also offering bespoke guidance on a range of other subjects, from employment and general business matters, through to director’s responsibilities, insolvency, restructuring, funding and disputes. Available from 10am-12pm Monday to Friday, call 0800 689 4064.

General advice in relation to COVID-19 can be found on our dedicated coronavirus resource hub.

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