Do you hire employees from the EU? If you do, it’s important that you’re aware of the changes being made in 2021, which will come into effect once the Brexit transition period comes to an end.
From 1 January 2021, free movement will end and the UK will introduce a points-based immigration system. This new points-based system will treat EU and non-EU citizens equally. It will transform how all migrants come to the UK to work. Anyone coming to the UK to work, apart from Irish citizens, will need to apply for permission in advance.
The Key Changes
The main changes that employers need to be aware of are:
- From 1 January 2021, you will need to register as a licensed sponsor if you want to hire eligible people from outside the UK.
- Free movement is ending. The new points-based immigration system will bring with it job, salary and language requirements that will change the way you can hire people from the EU.
- The new points-based system will treat EU and non-EU citizens equally. It will transform the way in which employers recruit from outside the UK.
- In most instances you’ll need a sponsor licence if you want to hire eligible employees from outside the UK.
More About the UK’s Points-Based Immigration System
To find out more about the points-based immigration system visit the dedicated GOV.UK page where you can find the latest guidance and resources.
Register to Become a Licensed Sponsor
A new Employer’s guide has been made available which covers how to become a licensed sponsor of skilled migrant workers. This gives an overview of the sponsorship process for employers, from how to apply for a sponsor licence to hiring new employees from outside the UK.
Getting a sponsor licence usually takes around eight weeks and there are fees to pay. Employers should check their eligibility before applying. To get a licence, you cannot have unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences or certain other crimes, such as fraud or money laundering.
Employers do not need to be a sponsor to employ someone from the resident labour market with an existing right to work in the UK. This also includes Irish citizens, EU citizens with settled or pre-settled status, and non-EU citizens with indefinite leave to remain in the UK.
The Impact on EU Citizens Already in the UK
The new system will not apply to EU citizens living in the UK by 31 December 2020. They and their family members are eligible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme and have until 30 June 2021 to make an application. As a transition measure, employers can continue to accept the passports and national identity cards of EU citizens as evidence of their right to work up until 30 June 2021.
For full details on the points-based immigration system, please visit the dedicated GOV.UK page online.