04 May 2020

Employment

Immigration: Have you seen the new points based system?

In the midst of the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, many employers may have missed that the UK government has now published its policy statement setting out the new points-based immigration system that will come in to force from 1 January 2021. Dan Wilde, our Head of Employment Law, summarises the key changes to the system and explains the impact of the policy changes below.

What changes can we expect?

The most significant change is that EU and non-EU migrant workers will in the future be treated the same. All would be migrants, who must speak English, will need a job offer from an approved sponsor, at the required skill level and paid at the required salary. These changes will introduce new levels of cost and bureaucracy to recruitment from the EU, while ending the current the restriction on the number of General Tier 2 visas available for work based immigration outside of the EU.

How will the points scoring operate?

Under the new system. various requirements will carry a points score and a migrant will need to obtain 70 points to obtain a Tier two visa.

Under the New System, a job offer by an approved sponsor is worth 20 points. Businesses wishing to employ EU and non-EU nationals will need to register as a sponsor with the Home Office. This is a formal process and involves submitting documents that verify that the business is genuine, that the business can meet the sponsor’s obligations, and identifying the personnel who have responsibility for compliance with the sponsors obligations.

The applicant must be able to speak English to a certain level and satisfying the English requirement will score the applicant ten points. There is currently no guidance as to what the required level of English and how this will be assessed.

The minimum salary threshold will be set at £25,600 (with no regional variation across the UK) and meeting the minimum salary threshold will score the applicant 20 points. However, if the applicants can demonstrate that they have a PhD (which is relevant to the job) or a job offer on the Migration Advisory Committee’s ‘shortage occupation’ list, then the salary threshold is lowered to £20,480 and the individual will still score 20 points.

The current shortage occupation list includes nurses, social workers, civil engineers and IT business analysts. Given the current health crisis, we will all be glad that nurses are included but of course the sponsorship requirements and the need to obtain a visa will create additional bureaucracy and delays in the recruitment process.

What is classed as an appropriate skill level?

The job offered must be at an appropriate skill level. The requisite skill level has been lowered to level three qualification (equivalent to A level). If the role falls within RQF3 or above, then the applicant will score 20 points.

At present there are no provisions to allow lower skilled/lower paid workers, for example, workers in the hospitality/hotel sector. The seasonal agricultural visa pilot scheme will be expanded – recognising the significant reliance this sector has on low-skilled temporary workers.

EU migrants living in the UK before 31 December 2020 must apply for pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme before 30 June 2021 to retain the right to live and work in the UK.. For all migrants arriving in the UK on/after 1 January 2021, the New System will treat EU and non-EU nationals equally without offering a preferential route to EU migrants (and their family members).

What is the cost for an employer?

Those employers wishing to be able to recruit EU nationals, who have not previously applied for a sponsor licence, will need to take steps to apply for a sponsor licence. The cost for smaller employers with a turnover of £10.2 million and 50 employees or less is £536. The cost for larger employers is £1476.

Get in touch…

Harding Evans Solicitors can assist businesses looking to apply for a sponsor licence and can deal with the formalities required. Please do not hesitate to contact Daniel Wilde on 01633 244233 or email wilded@hevans.com should you require this assistance.

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