Following the UK’s exit from the EU on 31 January 2020, the Government has published its policy statement on the proposed immigration system which will operate from January 2021 under which all EU and non-EU citizens will be treated equally.
In our latest insight, we look at the key proposals; the impact on you as employers and what you can be doing now to prepare yourselves for the new system.
The basic premise for skilled workers
All migrants wishing to come to work in the UK will require 70 points under the new system to be eligible to apply for a visa.
Applicants will need to demonstrate that they have a job offer from an approved sponsor; that the job offer is at the required skill level and that they have English language skills. Doing so will achieve 50 points. If earnings are at least £25,600 a further 20 points will be achieved. 10 points are available for having a PHD or 20 points for a PHD in Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths (STEM). Finally, 20 points are available for a job in a shortage occupation.
What are the exact salary requirements?
The general salary threshold for those applying for a visa will be lowered from £30,000 to £25,600. This will still be subject to the “going rate” specified by the Home Office being paid if this is higher in any occupation.
The salary requirements for new entrants (for example those under 26 or recent graduates) will be set at 30% less than experienced workers.
If applicants earn less than the required minimum salary threshold but no less than £20,480 they may still be able to apply if they can show that they have a job offer in a specific shortage occupation as determined by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) or that they have a PHD relevant to the job. In effect, salary and qualifications can be “traded” so long as a maximum of 70 points is achieved.
What about the skills threshold?
The skills threshold to apply for a visa will be reduced from RQF6 (graduate level) to RQF3 (A-level). In addition, the current cap of a maximum of 20,700 visas being granted per annum will be “suspended” (although this leaves open the possibility of the cap being re-introduced).
The resident labour market test i.e. the requirement to advertise roles for 28 days to demonstrate that no suitable worker can be found without resort to a sponsored visa will also be removed meaning that the immigration process which can take up to 3 months will become a lot quicker and less protracted.
What are the options for Highly skilled workers wanting to come to the UK?
The Global Talent visa (formerly the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa) will be extended to highly skilled EU nationals who will be able to enter the UK without a job offer providing they are endorsed by a relevant and competent body.
A broader and unsponsored route will run alongside the employer sponsored route within the points-based system. Points for the unsponsored route may be awarded for academic qualifications, age and relevant work experience – this looks a lot like the previous Tier 1 (General) visa.
What about lower-skilled workers?
The Government is not proposing a route for lower skilled workers or a temporary a visa. Instead the Government is encouraging employers to adjust and focus on investing in, and training, its UK work force. Employers within the construction, retail, tourism, social care, warehousing, transportation, restaurant and café sectors are most likely to be affected without a specific route for lower skilled workers.
What does all this mean for employers?
It is estimated that 3.2 million EU nationals have applied under the EU Settlement Scheme since March 2019 to continue to live and work in the UK. These EU nationals will not be impacted by the Government’s proposals. However, employers who are heavily reliant on an EU workforce will inevitably be impacted by the changes.
Further detail on the points-based system will be published in due course and we will continue to provide employers with an update when more detail becomes available.