After 31 December 2020, the UK and EU transitional period ends and the ‘freedom of movement’ will also come to an end. The UK Home Office has announced the new immigration rules that will be effective from 1 January 2021 onwards.
Both the current and prospective employers and employees need to take note of the changes to prepare ahead. If you are not sure about any of the changes and how they might affect you, we suggest you to contact an immigration lawyer for an informal chat or consultation.
As part of the general changes in UK immigration from 2021, the ‘Skilled Worker’ visa will be replacing the ‘Tier 2 (General)’ visa. In the past years, Tier 2 (General) route was one of the most popular work visa up till now and will remain the core immigration visa for those coming to the UK for work.
On 1 December 2020, the ‘Tier 2 (General)’ visa route will officially stop receiving new applications, and the ‘Skilled Worker’ visa route will be open for application from all EEA and non-EEA nationals.
However, EEA nationals will only be able to come to the UK under the ‘Skilled Worker’ visa route from 1 January 2021 onwards. This is because all EEA nationals can still come to the UK without a need for a special visa application up to 11 pm on 31 Decmber 2020 and will be eligible for a status under EU Settlement Scheme. You can find out more information about this here.
Below is the summary of the changes and the main differeneces with the current Tier 2 (General) route:
- The annual cap on the number of work visas will be suspended. This means there will be no monthly panel.
- Employers will no longer need to conduct the Resident Labour Market Test (RMLT) in a prescribed maner and for a certain period of time.
- Restricted Certificate of Sponsorhsip application process will be replaced with a Defined Certificate of Sponsorship. The Home Office promises a 1 working day turnaround for these tyeps of requests.
- The skills threshold will be lowered from RQF 6 (requiring a degree and above) to RQF 3 (requiring the applicant to be a school leaver and above).
- The general salary threshold has been lowered from £30,000 to £25,600 pa or the relevant going rate underappropriate Standard Occupation Code (SOC) minimum salary; the higher amount will be taken. A further reduction in the minimum salary threshold up to £20,480 pa can be obtained for new entrants, PhD Level jobs or occupations on the Shortage Occupation List.
- There is no longer a 12-months ‘cooling-off’ period for switching from Tier 2 (ICT) into Skilled Worker, or after applying having one Tier 2 visa in the past and returning on a new Skilled/ICT visa to the UK.
- The minimum salary level for Indefinite Leave to Remain (IRL) applications is removed and replaced with general salary minimum or the going rate minimum salary under the appropriate Standard Occupation Code (SOC).
Under the new ‘Skilled Worker’ visa route, the applicant will still need to demonstrate an ability to speak English at B1 level.
Employers who are planning to hire foreign employees next year under the ‘Skilled Worker’ visa route will need to hold a Sponsor Licence. All current Tier 2 Sponsor Licence holders will be automatically upgraded into Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence and do not need to do anything. However, if the employer currently does not have a Tier 2 General sponsor licence, the employer mustapply for one as soon as possible. Kindly refer to our article here for more information about the Sponsor Licence and get in touch with one of your immigration solicitors for more information on how you can apply.
EEA and Swiss nationals will be allowed to enter and remain in the UK until 1 January 2021 under the existing EEA Regulations and freedom of movement. After 31 December 2021,the UK Home Office will treat all EEA and Swiss nationals similarly to any other country’s nationals. All foreign nationals coming to the UK will require a visa to work and reside in the UK, unless they are eligible to come under the EU Settlement Scheme.
The UK Home Office has introduced the EU Settlement Scheme to protect EEA and Swiss national’s existing right to work and reside in the UK. Kindly refer to our article here to understand which scenarios you currently fall under and how you could take advantage of the EU Settlement Scheme before its application deadline on 30 June 2021. If you would like to find out more about the scheme and how this may affect your long-term rights in the UK, we recommend to get in touch with a UK immigration lawyer.
If you have any other UK or EU related immigration questions, please get in touch with our immigration solicitors on 020 7427 5972 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also get in touch or follow us for similar content on our social media accounts on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.