Wed 19 Feb 2020

New Immigration system proposals announced

Since the EU Referendum in 2016, it’s been rare for a working day to go by without someone asking me “What’s going to happen after Brexit?”. Like everything else Brexit related, there has been a lot of toing and froing but finally we have concrete details of the new post Brexit immigration system.

What is the new system?

The UK Government has announced that the new system will apply to work visas, and will have the following features:

  • A tier of visas available to those without a job offer. Further details of this are to be announced but it is likely to comprise the existing Global Talent/Exceptional Talent route, the Start up and Innovator visas and the new Post Study Work visa being introduced later this year.
  • A second tier of visas available to skilled workers with a job offer. While this may sound like the existing arrangements there are some important changes:
    • The minimum salary will be reduced to £25,600;
    • The resident labour market test, which requires companies to advertise roles for 28 days before recruiting from outside the EU, will be removed.
    • The minimum skill level will be reduced from Degree level jobs to A level jobs.

There had been a number of suggestions that a third tier of visas would be created for unskilled workers, but the announcement states this will not be the case. There will be an expansion of the Agricultural/Seasonal Workers Scheme but roles which are considered to be “unskilled” in other sectors will not be given similar arrangements.

When will the new system come into place?

The intention is for the new system to open to applications in Autumn 2020, so that it is fully operational by January 2021. This likely means that the legislation will be published in September/October 2020 and come into force from 6 November 2020. As a result there is still time, and scope, for the proposals to be tweaked based on feedback from businesses.

How will this affect businesses?

The first consequence of the new system, which is not unexpected, is that recruitment will become more difficult from the end of this year. Up until the end of December 2020 EU nationals will be able to continue to come to the UK and register for Pre Settled Status, so sectors with a heavy reliance on EU nationals may wish to consider accelerating recruitment to take advantage of this route.

The second consequence for businesses is that many will need to consider applying for Sponsor Licences, if they intend to recruit from the EU for skilled roles in future. The Home Office announcement specifically recommends making these applications now, but businesses will need to consider the cost of using the sponsored worker route and the strict compliance obligations currently imposed on employers.

For businesses who have a number of employees from the EU in roles considered to be “unskilled”, the priority is to secure the rights of existing employees to work in the UK. This can be done through the Pre Settled Status/Settled Status Scheme. In the long term these businesses will need to consider alternative sources of recruitment.

Regardless of your circumstances, we can help identify the best strategy for future recruitment for your business. Please get in touch to discuss how we can help planning for the future immigration system.

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