31 December 2020 saw the end of free movement between the UK and the EU and the new immigration system now applies to both EU and non-EU citizens. From 01 January 2021, all EU nationals must apply under the new regime.
The new system is broadly similar to the old Tier 2 routes which closed on 01 December 2020.
The old Tier 2 (General) route is now the ‘Skilled Worker Route’ and Tier 2 (ICT) is the ‘Intra-Company Route’.
For companies wishing to employ international skilled workers, including EU nationals, the requirement to hold a sponsor licence with all the associated compliance obligations remains.
Existing Sponsor Licence Holders
Your licence was automatically replaced with a new licence for Skilled Worker and/or Intra-company Transfer before 01 December 2020 and you are not required to take any action.
The big changes for Skilled Workers
- The annual cap on the numbers of skilled migrants entering the UK has been suspended;
- The resident labour market test has been abolished with the focus now placed on ‘recruitment practices’. The requirement to demonstrate a genuine role that meets the skills and salary requirements remains in place;
- The relevant skills set threshold has been lowered from RQF level 6 (degree level equivalent) to RQF level 3 (A-Level equivalent);
- the minimum salary has been reduced, although the salary is still required to meet the going rate for the role if this is higher;
- The 12 month cooling off period has been removed and there is more flexibility to apply in country;
- The maximum length of stay of six years under the Tier 2 (General) route has been removed;
- Tradable points have been introduced that will be tradeable against salary where the role appears in specific shortage occupations, a new entrant role, or the applicant holds a relevant PhD;
- A ‘defined’ Certificate of Sponsorship is required to support all new applications for entry clearance. This replaces the ‘Restricted’ Certificate of Sponsorship. The process for obtaining the Defined Certificate of Sponsorship has been streamlined with the Panel at the Home Office sitting daily, rather than monthly.
- Intra-Company Transfer employees currently in the UK will be permitted to switch into the Skilled Worker Route;
- A single high earner threshold of £73,900 which allows applicants to reside in the UK under this route for nine years in any ten year period and are exempt from the 12 months previous overseas employment;
- The cooling off period now allows for up to five years in any six year period for those Intra-Company employees with a salary that is less than the high earner threshold.
For more information, please contact Sally McEwen from our Business Immigration Team or schedule a free initial consultation below.