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2021 Immigration System detail published: FAQs

17 July 2020 #Immigration

The Government published further detail on the 2021 immigration system. The policy statement dated 13 July 2020 provides important detail on how the new system will function. In this article we look at the key facts and takeaways on UK’s new immigration system.

When does the new system come into force?

The new immigration system will be open for applications later this year, for applicants to come to the UK from 1 January 2021.

How does the new system impact EU citizens?

The new system will include EU, EEA and Swiss citizens. Citizens of these countries have been able to freely move within the EU, and the UK. However, as the post-Brexit transition period ends on 31 December 2020, EU, EEA and Swiss citizens will have to apply under the new immigration system.

Citizens of the EU, EEA and Switzerland will not require a visit visa to enter the UK for most short-term visits up to 6 months.

The latest policy statement provides some relaxation for EU citizens with respect to the application process, as most applicants will not need to attend a biometric enrolment centre to provide their fingerprints of facial image. Instead, they will be able to use a smartphone app to upload a digital photo with their application.

EU Citizens will also be able to use the Global Talent visa (previously known as the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent) to come to the UK. This visa route does not require a prior job offer, unlike the Skilled Worker route, and is not tied to a specific employer.

EU students will also have to apply for a student visa, and must show that they have:

  • Been offered a place on a course with approved provider
  • Demonstrate English language ability at a required level
  • Have sufficient money to support themselves and to pay for their proposed course.

The EU settlement scheme continues to be open for all EU nationals and their family members who enter the UK before 31 December 2020. The application must be made before 30 June 2021.

What is the new Skilled worker route?

The Skilled worker route will replace the current Tier 2 visa. This new route will allow licenced employers to sponsor non-UK employees at job roles at RQF level 3 or above (equivalent to A-level).

This would vastly increase the number of available roles under the Work visa route, as job roles under the current system are limited to RQF Level 6 (Bachelor degree equivalent) roles.

Employers will be expected to pay a minimum salary of at least £25,600 for most roles, and the employee must be able to speak English at a required level.

For more information on this route, or to become a licenced employer, please contact our Immigration team.

What changes should international students expect?

In addition to EU citizen requiring student visas (see above), a new graduate immigration route will be available to students completing a UK degree. This route will open in summer 2021, and will allow those completing a Bachelor/Master’s degree a further 2 years to work or look for work in the UK. PhD graduates will be able to stay a further 3 years.

We expect this new route to apply to students currently in the UK, provided their degree allows them to stay in the UK beyond summer 2021.

Will there be any changes at the UK border?

Citizens of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the United States of America, Singapore, South Korea have been able to use e-gates since May 2019. This will continue under the new immigration system. EU, EEA and Swiss citizens will also retain access to these e-gates.

The UK will also continue to accept ID cards from EU citizens, and their family members under the new immigration system, provided they are resident in the UK before the end of the transition period. However, this will be phased out for all new entrants from January 2021, and by 2026, for pre-transition period residents. ICAO compliant ID cards will be accepted beyond 2026.

What are the changes to right to work/rent?

Employers and landlord can continue to accept EU passports and identity cards as evidence of immigration status until 30 June 2021.

From June 2021, they will be expected to use the online right to work checking service to determine right to work or right to rent.

If you require training for online right to work or right to rent checks, please contact our immigration team.

As Non-EEA citizens will continue to be issued physical documents post-Brexit, these will remain acceptable for right to work checks. Alternatively, for those issued with valid Biometrics Residence Cards or Permits, the employers/landlords can also conduct an online check.

The Clarkslegal LLP immigration team will continue to support organisations and individuals. We provide seminars, training, vis application support and ad-hoc support to both organisations and individuals. If you require such support, please contact our Immigration Team for further information.


Clarkslegal, specialist Immigration lawyers in London, Reading and throughout the Thames Valley.
For further information about this or any other Immigration matter please contact Clarkslegal's immigration team by email at by telephone 020 7539 8000 (London office), 0118 958 5321 (Reading office) or by completing the form on this page.
This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

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Hamza Malik

Hamza Malik

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Immigration team
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