New immigration system

From 1 January 2021, freedom of movement between the UK and EU is ending and the UK will introduce a new points-based immigration system.

The new system will introduce job, salary and language requirements, treating EU and non-EU citizens equally and transforming the way in which employers recruit from outside the UK. Anyone coming to the UK to work – excluding Irish citizens – will need to apply for permission in advance and demonstrate that:

  • they have a job offer from a Home Office licensed sponsor
  • the job offer is at the required skill level – RQF 3 or above (A Level and equivalent)
  • they speak English to the required standard (intermediate, B1)

In addition to this, the job offer must meet the applicable minimum salary threshold. This is the higher of either:

  • the general salary threshold £25,600, or
  • the specific salary requirement for their occupation, known as the “going rate”

All applicants will be able to trade characteristics, such as their qualifications, against a lower salary to get the required number of points. If the job offer is less than the minimum salary requirement, but no less than £20,480, an applicant may still be eligible if they have:

  • a job offer in a specific shortage occupation
  • a PhD relevant to the job
  • a PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job

There are different salary rules for “new entrants” who are at the start of their careers.

The Government has published employer guidance about the new points-based system and created a podcast to help you quickly get to grips with the new rules.

EU citizens

EU, EEA or Swiss citizens and their family members who are living in the UK by 31 December 2020 need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021. The deadline for applying is 30 June 2021.

EU citizens moving to the UK to work after 31 December 2020 will need to get a visa in advance and meet the requirements of the new points-based system.

Becoming a licensed sponsor

If you are not already a licensed sponsor and you think you will want to sponsor migrants through the skilled worker route from January 2021, you should apply now.

You do not need to be a sponsor to recruit Irish citizens or anyone from the resident labour market with an existing right to work in the UK. This includes EU citizens with settled or pre-settled status, and non-EU citizens with indefinite leave to remain in the UK. For more information on how to apply for a sponsor licence, please refer to this guidance.

Last updated: 23/12/2020