On 19 February 2020, the UK government set out the new points-based immigration system. These new arrangements are due to take effect from 1 January 2021, which is when freedom of movement with the European Union (EU will formally end.
What does this mean for me as an employer?
From the 1st January 2021 the Home Office will treat EU and non-EU citizens equally. This means any EU nationals entering the UK after this date will be subject to immigration control and will need to be sponsored by a licenced employer to work in the UK.
As a business you will have to review your compliance policies which deal with illegal working legislation, because from January 2021 this will include EU workers who have not applied for settled or pre settled status before June 2020 or been sponsored under the new system .
What does this mean for my business?
The Home Office is making it very clear that organisations that do not currently have a need to sponsor migrants, but who may need to do so once the new system is in place (when many EU/EEA nationals will need to be sponsored) should apply for a licence as soon as possible. We appreciate that for many business, dealing with the challenges of Covid 19 has been the most pressing priority. However, we equally appreciate that many businesses rely on a European or international workforce to see them through these challenges. Furthermore, some businesses are finding new opportunities in the current situation, but may not be able to expand or adapt as they wish to without looking further afield beyond individuals present and settled in the UK.
According to the ONS between April to June 2019
- There were an estimated 29.08 million UK nationals working in the UK, 298,000 more than the year before.
- There were an estimated 2.37 million EU nationals working in the UK, 99,000 more than the year before.
- There were an estimated 1.29 million non-EU nationals working in the UK, 34,000 more than the year before.
It is clear the UK hugely benefits from EU and other foreign nationals working here. To enable businesses to continue providing services to the standard expected by their clients or customers, they need to be in a position to hire the right person with the right skill set, regardless of that person’s nationality. Having a licence will give you that opportunity, especially come January 2021, when the new system comes in to effect.
Small to medium businesses that are looking to maintain or expand their businesses in the UK must plan strategically for the future. Under the new system, the definition of skilled workers would be expanded to include those educated to A-level as opposed to the current University graduate level. The minimum general salary threshold will also be reduced from £30,000 to £25,600. These changes widen the scope of non-UK applicants, putting those employers with a licence in a better position to be able to hire the best and most talented workforce going forwards.
If you are an organisation that does not currently hold a sponsor licence and is interested in obtaining one, we would be happy to discuss the needs of your company. We can provide the necessary guidance and step by step support to register your company as a licenced sponsor.