On Monday 13 July, the Government published its latest guidelines on the UK’s new immigration system, which will amend the existing points-based immigration system in the country from 1 January 2021. The new system will end free movement with the EU and represents a significant change to immigration in the UK.

This article outlines the main changes in the most recent guidelines that employers should be aware of.

What has changed?

  • Skilled migrants from the EU and elsewhere looking to work in the UK will still need to demonstrate that they have a job offer from an approved sponsor (and that they satisfy the English Language requirement).
  • The job offer must be at the required skill level of RQF3 or above (A level minimum). This skill level has decreased from a graduate level to an A level minimum.
  • The monthly cap on the number of people who can be sponsored under Tier 2 General will be scrapped.
  • The advertising process (the Resident Labour Market Test) has been scrapped.
  • Applicants will need to meet the minimum salary threshold. This will be either £25,600 per year for an experienced worker under Tier 2 General (which has been lowered from the current minimum of £30,000 per year), or the going rate according to the particular role – whichever is higher.
  • If they earn more than £20,480 per year, they may be able to be sponsored if the role is in a shortage occupation or a PhD role, by ‘trading’ characteristics.
  • The Global Talent route will be extended to EU citizens from January 2021.
  • A single, consistent and firmer approach to criminality will be introduced.
  • Most migrants who are already in the UK with a valid visa will be able to switch to another visa category, without having to leave the UK.
  • A Health and Care Visa will be introduced; however, this confusingly does not cover care workers.
  • The 12 months ‘cooling off’ period for Intra Company Transfer migrants is to be removed.
  • Students can come to the UK 6 months before their course is due to start (this has been extended from 3 months).
  • A new Graduate route is to be introduced, where undergraduate and master’s degree students can apply for a two-year Graduate visa. PhD students can apply for a 3-year visa. Both routes do not need to be sponsored and the migrants should be able to switch into work routes in the UK.
  • Following recommendations from the Migration Advisory Committee, the Government will seek to introduce a new, unsponsored route within the Points Based System for a smaller number of the most highly skilled workers to come to the UK without a job offer. There is no date given at present for the launch of this scheme, though it is likely to be 2022.

We strongly advise that should employers in the UK wish to hire from abroad, they should apply for a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence as soon as possible. Please do get in touch with our Immigration team should you wish to discuss this further.

Nicola Richards, 020 3319 3700, [email protected]

Tsige Berhanu, 020 3319 3700, [email protected]

Sharmila Mehta, 020 3319 3700, [email protected]

Jayanti Mitra-Valdes, 020 3319 3700, [email protected]