Home Office publishes rules for new immigration system
Last Thursday, the Home Office published its long-awaited statement of changes, which sets out the important changes to the UK immigration system from 1 December 2020. The new rules have been timed to coincide with the end of free movement rights for EEA nationals and have been introduced to bring EEA nationals into the UK immigration system.
At 514 pages, the statement of changes isn’t a quick read, but the key changes that employers need to be aware of is:
- The current Tier 2 (General) route will be replaced by the new Skilled Worker route from 9am on 1 December 2020. If an organisation currently has a Tier 2 (General) sponsor licence, this will be automatically converted to a Skilled Worker licence so that they can sponsor individuals under the new system
- EEA nationals entering the UK from 11pm on 31 December 2020 will need to have permission to stay and work in the UK and so may need to be sponsored under the new Skilled Worker route
- The types of role that qualify for sponsorship is being widened. At the moment, individuals can only be sponsored to do roles that are classified as being at RQF level 6 or above (graduate level) whereas the new Skilled Worker route allows roles that are classified as at RQF level 3 or above (A level) to be sponsored
- The general salary threshold for sponsored roles is being reduced from £30,000 per year to (1) £25,600 per year or (2) the going rate for the role’s Occupation Code, whichever is higher. However, sponsors can no longer count guaranteed allowances and bonuses when calculating whether the role meets the minimum salary requirements
- Under the new Skilled Worker route, individuals will need to score 70 points to qualify for sponsorship (as they do under the Tier 2 (General) route now). However, the Home Office has introduced a new “tradeable points” system to give sponsors a bit more flexibility. The person must (1) have a job offer with a sponsor for a role that meets the minimum skill level requirements and (2) meet the English language requirement to get 50 points. They can get the last 20 points if the salary on offer for the role is at least £25,600 per year or the going rate for the relevant Occupation code for the role (whichever is higher). If the role pays between £20,480 and £25,600 per year, sponsors may be able to get an extra 20 points if the individual has a relevant PhD, the job is on the shortage occupations list or if it is a new entrant role
- The current Tier 2 (General) cap on sponsored workers is being suspended, so there will be no more Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship when the new system comes in
- The Resident Labour Market Test is being abolished, meaning that sponsors will no longer have to follow a prescriptive advertising process before they can offer the role to a sponsored worker
- The 12-month “cooling-off period” and six-year maximum length of stay for Tier 2 (General) workers are being removed
- For Indefinite Leave to Remain (or settlement) applications, the £35,800 salary threshold is being replaced with a minimum salary requirement of £25,600 or the going rate for the occupation, whichever is higher
- At the moment, the rules on switching to the Tier 2 (General) route are quite strict – most applicants who are in the UK with a different type of visa will need to return to their home country to apply. These rules are being relaxed and so more applicants will be able to apply for a Skilled Worker visa without leaving the UK, including individuals who are in the UK with a Youth Mobility Scheme visa
If you would like more information, Vic Burnip and Liz Kynaston will be giving a webinar about work visas under the new immigration system at 11am on Thursday 29 October 2020. You can sign up here.
This is second in our Autumn Immigration webinar series. In our first webinar, Counting Down to Brexit and the New Immigration System, we looked at the EU Settlement Scheme and what your EU staff and their family members need to do to secure their right to remain in the UK after Brexit. Our third webinar will take place on 1 December and will be Q&A session on both EU Settlement Scheme and the new immigration system.
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