Summary: The Home Office released the new Immigration rules that will apply to all EU and non-EU citizens being sponsored to start working in the United Kingdom from January 1, 2021. These changes will not apply to EU citizens residing in the UK by 11 pm on December 31, 2020. They will be able to apply to the EU Pre-Settlement/Settlement Scheme by June 30, 2021, and will not require sponsorship under the Skilled Worker category.
SUMMARY OF NEW SKILLED WORKER RULES
Skilled Worker Category Rules: The Skilled Worker category will replace the Tier 2 (General) category and involve the following criteria:
- Salary: The basic salary threshold will reduce from £30,000 to £25,600 for new entrants, including those who are switching from being a student or are under 26 years old. Applicants must be paid at least the basic salary threshold or the going rate for the role, whichever is higher.
- Skill level: The required skill level for a sponsored role will reduce from the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) level 6 (i.e., bachelor’s degree or equivalent) to level 3.
- Advertising: The resident labor market test advertisement process will be abolished.
- Quota: The monthly quota/cap which applied to some Tier 2 applications will be suspended.
Other changes to UK Immigration:
- Intra Company Transfers (ICTs): Tier 2 (ICT) visa holders will be able to switch from within the UK into the Skilled Worker category and then be on a track to indefinite leave to remain after 5 years as a Skilled Worker.
- ICT high earners: Where the salary will be over £73,900, the employee can qualify as a high earner and stay in the UK for up to 9 years. This is a change from Tier 2 (ICT), where the high earner threshold was £120,000.
- Cooling off: The 12 month “cooling-off period,” which prevented certain Tier 2 visa holders from returning to the UK after the end of their visas, is being removed.
- Criteria for ICT remains the same: The ICT salary threshold will remain as under Tier 2 (ICT) at £41,500 or the going rate for the role, whichever is higher. The role must also be at the higher Tier 2 RQF level 6.
- Transitioning from Tier 2 (General) to Skilled Worker (or applying for indefinite leave to remain) and still relying on allowances
- Allowances can be included in salary calculations for applicants who are applying before 1 December 2020 and were last granted permission as a Tier 2 (General) sponsored worker, provided they are still working for the same sponsor as in their previous permission, and the allowances are guaranteed for the duration of the applicant’s permission.
- Sponsor license. Existing Tier 2 sponsors will be able to continue to use their existing sponsor license for Skilled Worker applications.
The Skilled Worker category will apply to anyone sponsored to work in the UK in a role due to start on or after January 1, 2021. From December 1, 2020, it will be possible to submit Skilled Worker visa applications for EU and non-EU citizens starting work on or after January 1, 2021.
ACTION ITEM FOR THE COMPANY
Encourage all EU national employees currently residing in the UK to register for the pre-settlement/settlement scheme as soon as possible and provide the HR team with confirmation.
Erickson Immigration Group will continue to send updates as more news is available. If you have questions about anything we’re reporting above or case-specific questions, please contact your employer or EIG attorney.