The new immigration rules were announced last week. While most of the changes will be applicable from January 2021, the Skilled Worker route will replace the current General Work visa (Tier 2) from 1 December 2020.
Despite the major branding change, the route will operate in the same way as the current Tier 2 visa- it will require a job offer from a licensed sponsor.
Importantly, however, this route will apply to all EU nationals entering the UK from 1 January 2021 (this does not include EU nationals eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme). The Skilled Worker scheme is significantly more restrictive than the current Freedom of Movement directive, and will require a paid application by the migrant worker.
This change will mean that employers who intend on sponsoring from the EU will need a major reorganisation of their current recruitment procedures for EU nationals. Employers who do not currently have a sponsor licence will also need to apply for a sponsor licence, which can take several weeks to process.
As such, we have also seen regular correspondence from the Home Office to employers advising them of this major change, and to consider applying for a sponsor licence, if they intend on recruiting from the EU from January 2021.
It is therefore important for employers to consider their recruitment needs from the EU for 2021.
The Skilled Worker route also contains several welcome changes to the current Tier 2 route, involving a reduction of minimum salary requirement and skill level. In our next update we will explore these changes and how it affects current and future licenced employers.