New immigration system


29th April 2020

If you are hiring workers from outside of the UK from 2021 onwards, have you got your sponsor licence?

The Government published a high level policy statement back in February 2020 about its proposals for a new uniform points based immigration system, which would apply to all overseas citizens (apart from Irish citizens), as from 1 January 2021.

Further details of the proposed new immigration system have now been released. As from 1 January 2021, Free Movement for EU Nationals will end and both EU and non EU citizens will be treated the same.

Whilst the Government trumpets this as a new points based system, where a migrant receives points for specific skills, qualifications, salaries and shortage occupations, it is in fact a revised and repackaged version of the current system which is already in place. The crucial difference is that it will apply to all overseas citizens, instead of non EU Nationals only.

Skilled workers

As from 1 January 2021, anyone coming to work in the UK will need to demonstrate the following:-

  1. They have a job offer from an approved sponsor.
  2. The job skills level is at RQF level 3 or above (A level standard and upwards).
  3. They speak English.
  4. The salary for the role meets the government requirements.

Minimum salary requirements

The general minimum salary threshold level under the new immigration system will be £25,600 per annum, which is below the current minimum salary level of £30,000. Workers will, however, still need to be paid the minimum salary threshold for the role as set out in the Government’s Standard Occupational Classification codes, or the minimum salary threshold, whichever is the higher.

If the person earns less than the minimum salary level required, but no less than £20,480 per annum, they may still be eligible if they have a job offer in a specific shortage occupation or a PhD relevant for the job.

Eligibility for the new immigration system

A minimum of 70 points is required for anyone to be eligible however, unlike the present system, applicants will be able to trade certain characteristics, such as qualifications, against a lower salary in the new immigration system.

There will not be a route for those who do not meet the skills or salary threshold, although the Youth Mobility Scheme will continue to be in place. This allows young people from a number of countries to come to the UK to live and work for up to two years. The Seasonal Workers’ agricultural visa pilot scheme will be extended to recognise the reliance on these lower skilled temporary workers, in this industry.

The new immigration system requirements under the skilled workers’ route will not apply to EU Nationals already in the UK and who have Pre Settled Status or Settled Status, or start living and working in the UK before 31 December 2020 or any non EU Nationals who have indefinite leave to remain in the UK. These groups do not need to apply under the skilled worker route – they are eligible to work in the UK.

New graduate route

A new route will be available for those who complete a degree in the summer of 2021. This will enable graduates to live and work in the UK, at any skill level for a period of up to two years after graduation.

Requirement for a sponsor licence

Employers who wish to employ anyone from outside the UK on the skilled worker route in the new immigration system will need a Home Office approved sponsor licence in place, before they are eligible to make job offers under the skilled workers’ route.

Employers who have traditionally recruited EU Nationals but who may need to recruit new overseas workers as from 2021, will now need to get ready for the new regime and apply for a licence. It should be noted that the Home Office can take up to eight weeks to make a decision on whether a licence should be granted, so employers should start thinking about this now, to make sure they are ready in time. The Home Office says that the new immigration routes will be open from autumn 2020.

For more information about the new immigration requirements, contact our experts in this field.

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