New requirements apply to all EU and EEA nationals, as well as those nationals who already require a visa to come to the UK…
European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss nationals (as well as their family members) living in the UK up to 31 December 2020 could apply under the EU Settlement Scheme to ensure they could remain in the UK post-Brexit; however a new points-based system took effect on 1 January 2021 when the freedom of movement between the UK and the EU came to an end.
EU, EEA and Swiss nationals wishing to come to the UK after this date will be granted entry as a visitor for up to six months without needing to obtain a visa but visitors are not allowed to work or access public funds. Those wishing to work or stay in the UK for longer will need to apply for a visa under the new immigration system.
The Skilled Worker Visa
To be eligible to apply for a visa under the Skilled Worker route (replacing the Tier 2 (General) visa) an applicant will need to demonstrate that:
– they have a job offer from an employer that holds a Sponsor Licence;
– the job offer is for a job at RQF 3 or above;
– they can speak English to a good level (as defined by the Home Office); and
– they will earn at least £25,600 pa – or the appropriate rate for that specific job as set by the Government.
The most significant differences between the previous Tier 2 (General) visa and its successor, the Skilled Worker visa are:
– Employers will no longer have to advertise roles to the UK labour market for 28 days prior to sponsoring a migrant worker.
– The skill level has decreased from RQF Level 6 (graduate) to Level 3 (A-Level).
– The cap on the number of restricted Tier 2 General visas issued by the Home Office has been removed.
– If an applicant will not meet the minimum salary requirement but will still be paid more than £20,480, they can trade points on specific characteristics against their salary.
Employers with existing Tier 2 General sponsor licences will have their licences automatically converted to Skilled Worker licences without needing to take any steps to do this.
The Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) Visa
Under the new points-based immigration system, companies will still be able to transfer sponsored employees to the UK if the role is skilled to RQF 6 (graduate level) and has a minimum salary of £41,500 (of higher depending on the SOC industry code). Some provisions will also be relaxed but the route will still not lead to indefinite leave to remain.
Global Talent Visa
Highly skilled workers will be able to rely on the Global Talent route (which replaced the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent route), which is open to highly-skilled scientists and researchers who can obtain an endorsement from a Home Office approved organisation. Applicants relying on this route will be able to enter the UK without a job offer.
New Graduate Visa
A new Graduate route will be launched for those who will complete a degree in the UK from the summer of 2021. The Graduate route will allow undergraduate and Masters students to remain in the UK for a further two (or three years for PhDs) from their graduation date.
From 1 January 2021, applicants will be able to switch immigration categories from within the UK provided that they meet the criteria of the new route. This will mean sponsored workers can continue to work in the UK whilst awaiting the outcome of their application.
Employers without a sponsor licence who wish to employ migrants should apply for a licence as soon as possible as the Home Office is likely to receive a surge in applications which could delay processing times.
Many of the changes introduced under the new points-based system are designed to be beneficial to employers and ensure a more efficient process.