UK Immigration Post-Brexit

New requirements will soon 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 can apply under the EU Settlement Scheme to ensure they can remain in the UK post-Brexit; however a new points-based system will take effect on 1 January 2021 when the freedom of movement between the UK and the EU comes 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.

Things are a bit different for Irish citizens. The UK and the Island of Ireland has a separate agreement that protects the rights of reach other's citizens when working and living in the other county. In 2019, the UK and Irish Governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding guaranteeing there would be no changes to the rights of British citizens in Ireland or Irish citizens in the UK as a result of Brexit. Irish citizens do not need to apply for settled or pre-settled status in the UK; however non-Irish/non-British family members of Irish citizens residing in the UK under the EU's freedom of movement law will need to apply for status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

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

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.

More Flexibility

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.

What Next?

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. We expect further clarity on the new system from the Home Office towards the end of 2020.

Whilst we do not directly provide immigration advice and services, we work closely with experts in this field and encourage to contact us or Amy Bennett at Teacher Stern for more information.

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