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New Guidance for Employers on Post-Brexit Immigration System - Are You Prepared?

on Friday, 24 April 2020.

The Government has proposed changes to the immigration system - to be introduced from autumn 2020.

While the majority of Government appear to be, quite rightly, focussing on responding to the coronavirus pandemic, parts of Government are still quietly preparing for that other issue which has dominated much of our lives recently - Brexit. Further to the Government's policy statement in February 2020 on the proposed 'new' points-based immigration system (which we previously released an an introductory guide to the new system for employers), the Home Office have now published an introductory guide to the new system for employers.

While the new guide does not contain anything that had not been previously announced, it is a timely reminder for employers of several key points regarding the proposed new immigration system:

  • From 1 January 2021 EU nationals will need to apply in advance for permission to come to the UK for any purpose other than visiting.
  • Employer sponsorship of skilled workers (similar to the current Tier 2 arrangements) will continue to be the main route for workers coming to the UK.
  • There will be no immigration route specifically for so-called lower-skilled workers.

The guidance also confirms that, unlike migrants from outside the EU, EU nationals will be granted digital status. EU nationals will be required to prove their status via an online checking service, rather than using a biometric residence permit or an endorsement in their passport. To allow for the fact that there will be some EU nationals who already reside in the UK and therefore eligible to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme, but have until 30 June 2021 to submit their applications. Employers can continue to accept EU passports and national identity cards as evidence of an EU national's right to work up until 30 June 2021.

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Requirements for Sponsored Workers

Migrants looking to work in the UK under the sponsored worker category will need to show that:

  • they have a job offer from a Home Office approved sponsor,
  • the job offer is at the required skill level – RQF 3 or above (A Level and equivalent),
  • they can speak English,
  • they will earn at least £25,600. If they will be earning less than that, but no less than £20,480, they may still be eligible if they have a job offer in a shortage occupation or a PhD relevant to the job.

Updated Guidance for Sponsors

In addition to the new promotional material, the Home Office have updated the Guidance for Sponsors of Tier 2 and Tier 5 migrants. This include a new annex encouraging employers who are not currently Tier 2 sponsors to apply now if they intend to sponsor skilled migrants - including those from the EU, from early 2021. The new annex summarises the main requirements for sponsorship under the new immigration system, including the requirement that employer sponsors will need to demonstrate that they are able to offer genuine employment skilled to RQF level 3 or above. However, there is a warning that the list of roles which are currently considered to be RQF level 3 and above may change before the new system goes live.

What Steps Should Employers Be Taking Now?

The proposed changes to the immigration system will be introduced in autumn 2020 to allow applications to be made using the new rules by those who wish to work in the UK from 1 January 2021.

Therefore, employers who are not currently sponsors, but believe they may need to sponsor skilled workers under the new system are encouraged to apply for a sponsor licence as early as possible. Please contact us for more details if you would like assistance with an application to register as a sponsor.

If you require specialist legal advice in relation to the Post-Brexit immigration system, please contact Tom Brett Young in our Immigration team on 07393 148352, or complete the form below.


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