Over the course of the last week, the Government has published more information regarding the UK’s new points-based immigration system.
Despite the current coronavirus crisis, there does not appear to be any suggestion that the new system will be delayed as a result, and the Guidance points to the post-Brexit transition period ending on 31 December 2020.
Although much of the content covers what we already know, there are two key points to note.
Firstly, the Government has reiterated that the work based route will require employers to hold a sponsor licence under the current Tier 2 arrangements. This means that any employer wanting to recruit (most) non-UK nationals after 31 December 2020 will need to have obtained a sponsor licence, before they are eligible to do this. The Government is strongly encouraging businesses to apply now if they know they will need a licence (or think that they might). Please contact us if you would like advice or assistance with this on a fixed fee basis.
The Guidance reiterates that the visa route for skilled workers will require a minimum skills threshold to be met i.e. a job at skill level RQF3 or above (equivalent to A level) and that applicants will need to be paid a minimum salary of £25,600 (although there are limited exceptions if you do not meet this salary but are not paid less than £20,480). Applicants will also need to demonstrate their English language skills.
Secondly, the Government has reiterated that there will not be an immigration route specifically for those who do not meet the skills or salary threshold above i.e. those who are lower-skilled or lower paid.
This announcement comes at a time when these “lower-skilled workers” (for example, the care workers, cleaners, supermarket staff and delivery drivers) are, in fact, the “key workers” whose jobs are proving vital to ensuring public health and safety during the current coronavirus crisis.
It is deeply disappointing that the Home Office has not used the crisis as an opportunity to reflect on the proposals for the new immigration system. The timing of these statements is deeply insensitive and has prompted widespread criticism.
Employers not currently approved by the Home Office to be a sponsor should consider applying now if they think they will want to sponsor skilled migrants, including from the EU, from early 2021.