The Government recently announced that it is intending to move forward with the introduction of a new immigration system on 1 January 2021.

What will happen on 1 January 2021?

Free movement for EU/EEA/Swiss citizens[1] and their family members will come to an end and they will be subject to immigration control.

I want to employ EU/EEA/Swiss citizens after 1 January 2021. What will I need to do?

Employers will need to hold a Sponsor Licence so that they are able to sponsor individuals under Tier 2 or Tier 5 of the Points Based System.

What are the requirements to sponsor someone?

  • the job offer is at the required skill level – RQF 3 or above (A Level and equivalent)
  • the individual meets the minimum English Language requirements
  • the role meets the required minimum salary threshold
  • if the role pays less than the required minimum salary threshold, but no less than £20,480, the individual may still be eligible if they can demonstrate that they have a job offer in a specific shortage occupation or a PhD relevant to the job

What about EU/EEA/Swiss citizens and their family members already in the UK? Will I need to sponsor them?

No. These individuals have until 30 June 2021 to make an application under the EU Settlement Scheme and employers can continue to accept passports and national ID cards as evidence of the right to work until this date.

Will there be other visa categories that individuals can use that don’t require sponsorship?

A new Graduate Immigration route will be rolled out in the Summer of 2021 for students who have graduated in the UK. This will allow unrestricted work for two years. The global talent scheme will also be opened up to EU/EEA and Swiss citizens. It will allow highly-skilled scientists and researchers to come to the UK without a job offer.

What about "low skilled" workers and skilled workers who don’t meet the salary thresholds?

The Government has made it clear that there will not be an immigration route specifically for those who do not meet the skills or salary threshold for the skilled worker route.

What are the fees associated with sponsorship?

Employers will need to factor in the Immigration Skills charge of £1000 (large/medium sponsor) or £364 (small/charitable sponsor) per year per person sponsored. The Immigration Health Surcharge will be increasing to £624 per year per person on 1 October 2020.

If I don't have a sponsor licence, what should I do?

If you are not currently approved to be a sponsor but think that you are likely to need to sponsor skilled migrant workers from 1 January 2021, you can apply for approval (a ‘sponsor licence’) now. You will need to show that you will be able to offer genuine employment skilled to level RQF3 or above. Details of which jobs are currently considered to be RQF3 or above are contained in Appendix J to the Immigration Rules. You should note that this list is subject to change and jobs that are currently considered to be RQF3 may not be when the new system goes live. Further information on this will be provided later in the year.

For more immigration insights, sign up to our mailing list here.


[1] Irish citizens will continue to be able to enter and live in the UK as they do now.

This article is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice.