The Home Office has released a guide for employers as it prepares to switch to a new points-based immigration system next year. The system will replace free movement for EU nationals. The Home Office reminded employers that they will need to be approved sponsors to recruit EU workers beginning Jan. 1. Applications for EU nationals planning on migrating to the U.K. on or after Jan. 1, 2021, will be accepted this fall.

The key points in the guide are as follows:

  • The points system will not apply to EU nationals already in the U.K. on Dec. 31, 2020. EU nationals in the U.K. before next year must apply for the EU Settlement Scheme by June 30, 2021. The new points system will not apply to them and they will retain free movement.
  • The new points system for skilled workers will be introduced Jan. 1, 2021. Beginning next year, skilled workers will need to reach at least 70 points on a new points system in order to apply to work in the U.K. All applicants will be required to (1) have a job offer from a Home Office-approved sponsor at (2) the skill level of RFQ 3 or higher and (3) speak English. Meeting these criteria will leave an applicant with a total of 50 points. To reach 70 points, candidates must earn additional points based on their salary level, working in a shortage occupation or having a Ph.D. in a relevant field. Points will be allocated as follows:
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 to £23,039 Yes 0
Salary of £23,040 to £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: Ph.D. relevant to the job Yes 10
Education qualification: STEM Ph.D. relevant to the job Yes 20
  • Employers can check online to see if a job meets the required skill level. Employers can use the ONS Occupation Coding Tool to find the relevant Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code for a given job. They can then check Appendix J of the Immigration Rules for the current skill levels for SOC codes. The Home Office said the U.K.’s immigration rules will be updated to expand the number of jobs that can be filled through the Skilled Worker route. Additional information is expected in the coming months.
  • The Global Talent route will open to highly skilled EU nationals on Jan. 1. Highly skilled workers who meet the required number of points under this route will be able to enter the U.K. without a job offer it they are endorsed by the relevant body. The Home Office said that in the long-term an unsponsored route will be developed for highly skilled workers, allowing for a small number of the most skilled applicants to come to the U.K. without a job offer.
  • There will be no specific route for lower-skilled workers. The Home Office said, however, that the new immigration system for skilled workers will offer employers greater flexibility on salary and skills requirements. Officials also noted that employers will be able to hire lower-skilled workers through the youth mobility scheme.
  • Other routes for scientists, graduates and NHS workers will be established. These routes will also be designed to provide employers with additional flexibility, the Home Office said. Additional information is expected in the coming months.
  • Employers will need to be approved sponsors to recruit EU workers beginning Jan. 1. To become approved sponsors, employers must (1) check if their business is eligible; (2) determine what type of license they want to obtain (i.e., Tier 2 – skilled workers with long-term job offers, Tier 5 – skilled temporary workers, or both); (3) identify employees who will manage the sponsorship; and (4) apply and pay a fee online. Additional information is available here.
  • Applications for the new immigrations will be accepted beginning in fall 2020. Applicants will apply and pay visa fees online. Those in the U.K. as visitors will not be able to apply for visas while in the country.

Additional information: EU nationals will not need a visa to enter the U.K. as visitors. Those planning on coming as migrants will be required to apply for a visa online and go to a Visa Application Centre to have their biometrics taken. EU nationals will be permitted to use e-gates when entering the U.K., though this policy will remain under review. During a six-month transition period, employers, landlords and public service providers will accept passports and national ID cards from EU nationals as evidence of permission to work in the U.K. This transition period will end June 30, 2021. Failing to leave the U.K. after leave has expired, or failing to leave on time, will impact an individual’s migration status and may negatively affect future interactions with U.K. immigration authorities.

Analysis & Comments: The Home Office guidance provides a blueprint for U.K. companies to plan for recruitment, talent acquisition and retention after free movement ends. Employers are reminded that under the transition period, EU nationals who are living in the U.K. as of the end of 2020 must apply under the EU Settlement Scheme by June 30, 2021. Deloitte will provide additional updates on the transition to the new immigration system as information becomes available.

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