The Home Office has defined new immigration rules that change the way UK companies hire staff from the EU from 1 January 2021 and introduces a points-based system.
Free movement for European citizens will end after the end of the Brexit transition period.
The UK’s immigration system will bring the rules for EU workers in line with those governing non-EU citizens, introducing job, salary and language requirements.
The new system will not apply to EU employees already working for businesses in the UK. EU citizens and their family members living in the UK by 31 December 2020 can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme until 30 June 2021.
From 1 January 2021, companies will need to register as a licensed sponsor to hire or continue hiring eligible EU workers on a Tier 2 (General) visa or intra-company transfer visa. A recent clarification from the government has prompted speculation about a surge of sponsor licence registrations ahead of the end of the Brexit transitional period.
The rules stipulate that job offers must meet specified minimum skill and salary thresholds: that is RQF3 (equivalent to A level) and the higher of £25,600 or the ‘going rate’ for that job, bearing in mind that some employees may be paid less than £25,600, for example, if their job is in a shortage occupation evidenced in a proper list for England and separate list for Scotland. Applicants must also meet English language requirements.
From 1 January 2021 workers coming to the UK using the Intra-Company Transfer route will need to be sponsored by a Home Office licensed sponsor and must have 12 months’ experience working for a business overseas linked by ownership to the UK business they will work for. Eligible roles must be at graduate level equivalent or above and be paid at least £41,500 or the ‘going rate’ for the job, whichever is higher.