Further information released on the new immigration system
There was much excitement and interest over the government’s announcement on Monday of further details on the new points-based immigration system due to come into effect on 1 January 2021. However, although it was released in a 130-page document, there was little that we didn’t already know from the government’s policy statement in February.
The headline for UK employers is that nationals of EEA member states will need to be sponsored by the holder of a sponsorship licence, if they wish to work in the UK and have no other legal basis on which to do so, such as for example because they already have Pre-Settled or Settled Status. The ramifications of this will potentially be fairly significant for various sectors and in an economy which is heavily reliant on European labour. This is only just beginning to filter into the consciousness of UK employers. Only a few months remain before the ability for British nationals to live and work freely throughout Europe will come to an end, as well as the right for UK employers to employ EEA workers in the UK without a raft of red tape. Employers who do not yet possess a sponsorship licence and who plan to employ EEA nationals from 2021 will need to consider applying for one soon.
Points of note in the briefing document include the requirement for sponsors to be active and ‘solvent’. Solvency has never previously been a requirement. The document also suggests that PAYE records will be checked regularly to ensure that sponsored workers are being paid at the appropriate salary rate. A welcome development is that it appears that the switching rules will also be extended in order to enable more categories of applicant to apply from inside the UK rather than having to leave and apply from overseas. It also looks as if the requirement to ‘cool off’ outside the UK, before reapplying under the points-based system, will also be relaxed.
Lastly, the government has announced a new Health and Care visa, to be introduced on 4 August 2020. The new visa is not really a new visa, but just a potentially quicker and cheaper Tier 2 visa. Crucially, care home workers will not be eligible to apply for it.
If you need to discuss sponsorship or immigration matters in general, please do not hesitate to contact our immigration team.