The points-based immigration system will apply to the UK, treating EU and non-EU citizens equally when applying for visas.  

The new system will allocate points for specific criteria and those seeking entry to the UK to work will only be granted visas once they can demonstrate that they have accumulated enough points to enter. 

Those wishing to work in the UK  will therefore need to demonstrate: 

  • Job Offer – that they have a job offer from a Home Office approved sponsor; 
  • Skill Level – that the job offer is at the required RQF 3 or above skill level (i.e. A-Level or equivalent); 
  • Language – that they can speak English; 
  • Minimum Salary Threshold – that they earn more than the required minimum salary threshold of £25,600 or the appropriate rate for that specific job as set by the Government; or 
  • Shortage Occupation – if they cannot demonstrate that they earn the minimum salary threshold but can demonstrate a salary of at least £20,480, approval may still be granted where the job offer is in an area where there is a specific shortage (e.g. civil engineering, medical practitioner, nurses, scientists, graphic designers etc). 

What does this mean for employers? 

If an employer wishes to recruit workers form outside of the UK after 1st January 2021, they will need to apply to the Home Office to become an approved sponsor. Until this date the current immigration rules will apply.  

The Home Office have advised that the wait time between submitting the application and a decision being made currently stands at 8 weeks. In an attempt to avoid disruptions and/or delay, employers should make their applications as soon as they can.  

To make an application to the Home Office to become an approved sponsor, employers will need to: 

  • Eligibility – demonstrate that they do not have any unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences, fraud, money laundering and other specific crimes; 
  • Skill Level – check that the job meets the required skill level which can be done using the Standard Occupational Classification (“SOC”) code and Appendix J of the Immigration Rules; 
  • Type of Licence – consider whether they need to apply for either a Tier 2 licence (skilled workers with long-term job offers) or a Tier 5 licence (skilled temporary workers); 
  • Appoint – appoint specific people to manage the sponsorship process using the Sponsorship Management system; and 
  • Apply – pay a fee, the cost of which will vary depending on the type of licence being applied for and the size of the businesses. 

What about those not considered “skilled workers”? 

There have also been reforms on how other types of workers can obtain entry to the UK on a work visa. 

  • Highly Skilled Workers – the Global Talent route currently open to non- EU citizens will be extended to EU citizens from 1 January 2021.  
  • Students – a new Graduate Immigration route will become available to international students permitting attendance at UK universities and other education institutions. 
  • Other – creation of initiatives is ongoing for certain sectors such as scientists, graduates and those who wish to work in the NHS. Watch this space….. 

What about EU citizens that are already living in the UK?  

These individuals (including EEA and Swiss citizens) will be eligible to apply for a work visa under the EU Settlement Scheme and will have until 30 June 2021 to submit their application ( ). They will therefore not be subject to the new points-based system and will have the right to remain in the UK subject to the conditions of the Settlement Scheme being met. It is in employers’ interests to provide information and support to workers to make applications under the EUSS by the deadline. 

Should you require any more assistance or have any queries please do not hesitate to contact your allocated HR support.