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April 15, 2020

U.K. Government Releases New Points-Based Immigration Guidance

The U.K. government issued the U.K.’s Points-Based Immigration System: An Introduction for Employers guidance just before the U.K. Easter Bank Holiday. It is nothing new to what was hinted previously. Below is a summary of the key points of the guidance of which employers may want to be aware to help them prepare:

  • The U.K. will introduce a points-based immigration system from 1 January 2021.
  • Free movement for EU nationals will end on 1 January 2021.
  • EU and non-EU foreign nationals will be treated equally under this new system.
  • EU nationals and their family members currently living in the U.K. have until 30 June 2021 to make an application under the EU Settlement Scheme.
  • Employers can continue to accept the passports and national identity cards of EU citizens as evidence of their right to work up until 30 June 2021.
  • Skilled workers: The new skilled worker route will open from autumn 2020 for applications from those who wish to work in the U.K. after 1 January 2021. Anyone coming to the U.K. to work under this route must establish that:
    • they have a job offer from a Home Office approved sponsor.
    • the job offer is at the required skill level – RQF 3 or above (A Level and equivalent).
    • they speak English.
    • if they earn more than the required minimum salary threshold, they are eligible to make an application.
    • if they earn less than the required minimum salary threshold, but no less than £20,480, they may still be eligible if they can demonstrate that they have a job offer in a specific shortage occupation or a PhD relevant to the job.
  • High-skilled workers: From 1 January 2021, the Global Talent route will be opened to EU citizens on the same basis as foreign nationals if they are endorsed by the relevant competent body.
  • Lower-skilled workers: There will not be an immigration route specially for those who do not meet the skills or salary threshold for the skilled worker route. Amidst the COVID-19 crisis, the Home Office felt it necessary to release this new guidance and state that lower-skilled workers (e.g., care workers, nurses, hospital porters, cleaners, logistics personnel, postal workers and other that currently fall within the COVID-19 crisis definition of “key workers”) will not be able to apply for a U.K. work visa from January 2021. The only “low-skilled” workers that the government will allow to apply for a visa are agricultural labourers.
  • Other routes: A new Graduate Immigration Route will be available from the summer of 2021 to international students who have completed a degree in the U.K.
  • Employers who currently do not have a Sponsor Licence, but think they will likely be recruiting overseas workers in the future, should consider applying for a Sponsor Licence now if they want to sponsor skilled foreign national workers from January 2021.

The material contained in this communication is informational, general in nature and does not constitute legal advice. The material contained in this communication should not be relied upon or used without consulting a lawyer to consider your specific circumstances. This communication was published on the date specified and may not include any changes in the topics, laws, rules or regulations covered. Receipt of this communication does not establish an attorney-client relationship. In some jurisdictions, this communication may be considered attorney advertising.

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