Changes to Immigration system

Ever since the UK voted to leave the EU in 2016, details of the new immigration system that will apply to EU nationals have been eagerly awaited. Businesses wishing to hire EU nationals from January 2021 onwards will require to apply for a sponsor licence but for those businesses who already sponsor employees from abroad, there are additional and key differences from the current sponsorship system.

The skill level required to be sponsored for a work visa, which will be called a Skilled Worker visa, will be reduced from the current degree level, to A Level. This means that lower paid or less senior roles will become eligible for sponsorship.

The salary required for a work visa will be reduced from £30,000 to £25,600 and lower salaries may qualify accepted if the candidate has a relevant PhD or if the role is one that is on the list of shortage occupation roles. This is currently being reviewed and is expected to be updated and released early in 2020.

The good news for employers is that there is no longer a Resident Labour Market Test. This previously required businesses to re-advertise roles to demonstrate that they were difficult to fill. Now a business can hire anyone to fill a sponsored role rather than having to demonstrate there were no other suitable candidates.

Although the changes in skill level, salary level and the rules regarding switching visas are being relaxed, the new system still holds many changes for businesses that rely on EU nationals. Sponsorship comes at a cost – the licence application fee can cost up to £1,476 then there is a fee for Certificate of Sponsorship at £199 and the Immigration Skills Charge can cost up to £1,000 per year.  These are costs which will undoubtedly affect businesses who have relied upon EU labour up until now.


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