On 31 December 2020, free movement between the UK and the EU will come to an end. Any EU nationals entering the UK after this date will be subject to the same immigration rules, regulations and restrictions as non-EU nationals.
A new points-based immigration system is to be introduced with effect from 1 January 2021 and, in most cases, employers are going to need a sponsor licence to employ both EU and non-EU nationals in the UK.
Whilst a number of employers will already hold a sponsor licence, many more will not. On 30 September 2020, the Home Office launched a marketing campaign to help ensure businesses are ready for the introduction of the new immigration system. In particular, employers are being encouraged to consider whether they will need a licence to sponsor EU nationals.
Employers should be assessing now whether their business would benefit from holding a sponsor licence. If the answer is, “yes”, we recommend applying sooner rather than later even if there is not an existing vacancy or immediate need to sponsor.
In doing so, it is still vital for the prospective sponsor to demonstrate to the Home Office that it is in a position to meet all relevant conditions and that it is likely to have genuine vacancies which will meet the criteria for sponsorship. If an application is refused, the employer can be subject to a cooling-off period which prevents a further application for six months. Therefore, it is vital that applications are carefully prepared with reference to the latest Tier 2 and Tier 5 Guidance for Sponsors.