Immigration Changes 1st January 2021

Posted on 18th November 2020

As of 31st December 2020, the UK will officially leave the European Union and new rules will come into force and the free movement between the UK and the EU and Switzerland with cease.  There will be changes to Sponsorship of Non-UK and Irish Nationals and Right to Work checks.  This guidance will explain those changes.  We expect further guidance by December 2020 and will update you as soon as that is available.

Will I still be able to employ people from the EU and Switzerland after 1st January 2021?

Yes, businesses will still be able to employ people from the EU and Switzerland after 1st January 2021. This has not changed and will not change; the changes relate to their permission to work in the UK.

From the 30th June 2021 all Non-UK and Non-Irish Nationals will require the appropriate Settled or Pre-Settled Status or Visa to work in the UK.

Will I still be able to use EEA and Swiss passports and identity cards to check the identity of my employees?

Until 30th June 2021, you will still be able to use these documents to carry out identity checks.

After this date, the way in which you carry out the checks will change.

How else can I carry out Right to Work checks?

After 30th June 2021, every EU or Swiss National will need to apply for a visa in order to work in the UK. They will be required to share their Visa and a copy of their passport or identity card with an employer or share their status using an online checking service.

For new starters Jan – Jun 2021, Right to Work checks remain the same, however, you can ask whether a candidate requires sponsorship or already has the right to work in the UK.  Previous UK work history would indicate that they are likely to qualify for pre-settled or settled status however the responsibility of applying for this remains with the employee.

Can I ask for my employee to share their status with me before 30th June 2021?

Any employer that insists on seeing the settled or pre-settled status of an employee, before 30th June 2021, may be at risk of a complaint of race discrimination.

The Right to Work check that you carried out when the employee came to work for you will be valid and continue to be.  The responsibility for applying for pre-settled or settled status is the employees.  Our recommendation is that you communicate to all employees that should they need to apply for pre-settled or settled status, that they do so as soon as possible.  The process is simple, however, they do have until 30th June 2021 to apply.

Will I have to recheck all my current EU or Swiss employees?

Employers will not be required to carry out further checks on their existing employees, to confirm that they have settled or pre-settled status, as long as they have carried out an appropriate check before 1st January 2021.  We do recommend that you carry out an Audit or your current files to ensure that you have Right to Work information for all employees.

What if I don’t know when the employee arrived in the UK?

Between 1st January and 30th June 2021, it will be difficult for an employer to find out when an individual arrived in the UK if they do not share their Visa or settled status.  Carry out the appropriate Right to Work checks.

What are the changes to Visas?

From the 1st January 2021 all non-UK and non-Irish Nationals will require a Skilled Worker Visa or a Inter Company (ICT) Visa.  These replace the Tier 2 General Visa and the Tier 2 ICT Visa.

What are the requirements of a Skilled Worker Visa?

The skill level requirement has been reduced to (RQF level 3) A Level requirement.

The salary threshold has reduced to £25,600 per annum or going rate whichever is higher.  There is a published list of going rates for roles.

Only Basic Salary can be used to meet the threshold however there are instances where this can be discounted such as PhD’s, STEM and a role within a shortage occupation, please call us for further details.

The requirements for recruitment practices prior to applying for a Visa have been reduced however, you will still need to evidence your recruitment practices.  We are still waiting for guidance on what this would look like.

There is an English Language requirement for the Skilled Worker Visa, there is not a requirement for the ICT Visa.

The Skilled Worker Visa has an indefinite period of stay, this is different to 5 years from 6, or 9 years from 10 previously with the Tier 2 General Visa.

Individuals currently on Visas can switch to a Skilled Worker Visa whilst in the UK there is no requirement to return to apply.

What roles come under the Skilled Worker Visa?

With the reduction in the Skill Requirement, there has been a broadening of the roles which can now be recruited to whilst using a Skilled Worker Visa.  These now include entry and middle managers within areas such as IT, Business and Legal, Sales and Marketing.  Please see the above link for Going Rates to see the roles now included.

What will it cost to Sponsor an individual?

The UK is still one of the most expensive countries in which to apply for a Visa.  There are certain costs which are statutory, but which increase according to the length of application.  There are also incidental costs for elements such as an English Language test which could add an additional £200 to £300.  As said, the costs can vary, however;

Small Organisation (Less than 50 employees)      3yr Visa £3,773      5yr Visa  £6,359

Large Organisation (More than 50 employees)    3 yr Visa £5,681     5yr Visa  £9,539

What do I need to do now?

We would recommend that you:

  • Ensure that all of your Right to Work checks on all employees are evidenced and correct.
  • If you are currently a Sponsor for Immigration Visa’s, check that your licence is current and renew it.
  • Communicate to all staff about the changes and provide them with the information to apply for Pre-Settled or Settled status.
  • Review your upcoming recruitment considering whether you can bear the cost of sponsorship for the roles available.
  • If you believe that you will be sponsoring individuals in 2021, apply for your Sponsorship licence as soon as possible.

This is a complex area, as always, if you need our help with this or any other HR issue then do call us on 01536 215240.

Lindsay Baker Character
Written by:
Lindsay Baker
Head of HR