Patel sows the seeds of immigration in Post-Brexit Britain
“Britain is open for business and ready to welcome the best and brightest global talent.” – Priti Patel, Home Secretary.
On Monday 13th July 2020, Priti Patel set out the finalised details of the new points-based immigration system which is scheduled to take effect from 1st January 2020.
Considering the gradual ending to COVID-19 and with international borders beginning to re-open, the UK government are more eager now than ever to attract students and workers from overseas who are the crème de la crème in their respective specialist and skilled fields. The further details which Mrs Patel has recently outlined will enable employers to have adequate time to prepare for the system’s implementation and make themselves knowledgeable of the revitalised immigration routes the new system will offer.
- Several newly defined immigration routes will be included in the system. These include:
- A Health and Care Visa:
This is a significant development which will allow health professionals to have easier and faster access to work in the UK. The eligibility criteria for this visa are:
i) Individuals from overseas must be working in eligible health occupations; and
ii) have a job offer from either the NHS, social care sector or employers; and organisations which supply services to the NHS; and
iii) have a good command of the English language which will be subject to assessment
Individuals matching the eligibility criteria for this visa will benefit from fast-track entry into the UK as well as reduced application costs. This will be in the form of individuals and their families/dependents becoming exempt from paying the Immigration Health Surcharge and benefit from the reimbursement scheme. More details will follow on this.
- A Graduate Route:
This is an unsponsored visa route which will launch from the summer of 2021. It will be open to students overseas who are either on a Tier 4(General) Student visa or overseas students who have wholly completed their university degree at undergraduate level or above at a UK Education Provider. The eligibility requirements for this visa route are:
i) Individuals must have entirely completed a degree equivalent or above undergraduate level at a UK Education Provider and have maintained a respectable compliance track record; and
ii) Must have fulfilled all their educational studies in the UK except when students have been allowed to take part in distance learning or study abroad programmes because of COVID-19.
Individuals who qualify for this visa need not demonstrate their command of the English language as this will already be demonstrated from the completion of their degrees at a UK Education provider. They will however still be required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge at the prescribed rate and will not have access to public funding.
Students will be permitted to stay in the UK for two years and PhD students will be permitted to stay for 3 years. They will also be able to work at any skill level in this duration and will also be eligible to switch visa routes regarding applying for leave inside the UK.
- Existing immigration routes via the old system will still be open to individuals overseas irrespective of their nationality. This includes:
- The Global Talent Scheme:
This visa route replaced the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visa which was designed to attract global leaders in an array of fields such as art, the humanities, science, technology, and engineering. Now, it is directed towards scientists and researchers overseas to come into the UK without requiring a job offer and benefit from a quicker and more efficient endorsement process. This applies to both EU and non-EU citizens who have been endorsed by a renowned UK body. They will still be required to pay the relevant application fees and the Immigration Health Surcharge.
- The new rules will permit Tier 2 ICT migrants switch to the Skilled worker route from within the UK and the “cooling off” period will be adjusted to become a more flexible provision. Cooling off periods may be applicable if an employer’s application is refused. This means that employers cannot apply again for six months or longer after receipt of the refusal. Therefore, it is crucial that employers consider applying early to have enough time to complete applications correctly first time.
- Employers are now being heavily advised and urged by the UK government to apply for a Tier 2 sponsor licence in preparation for recruiting overseas workers from 1st January 2021.
We recommend that employers start to put mechanisms in place now so they will be able to employ overseas workers and comply with the system’s compliance obligations. We also urge employers to apply early, so they avoid the ‘rush hour’ of applications to the Home Office towards the end of the year.
Pointers Employers should consider:
- Employer sponsorship of skilled migrant workers will continue to be the primary route for overseas workers to enter the UK
- EU nationals seeking to relocate to the UK will be subject to different requirements from non-EU nationals
EU nationals must satisfy one of the prescribed immigration categories by the Home Office in order to live and work in the UK.
Unlike non-EU nationals, they will be required to prove their status via an online platform. Instead of supplying a biometric residence permit or an endorsement in their passports, EU nationals will need to provide a facial scan via the UK Home Office App. This online checking service is scheduled to be released. In the Home Office’s long-term plan, this policy of removing the need for biometrics will later extend to all nationalities
- Employers who wish to sponsor skilled migrant workers are advised to apply for a Tier 2 sponsor licence now
Under the new system, the principal conditions for sponsorship and the new Tier 2 General are:
i) Employers must prove they are able to provide a skilled job offer that is either equivalent or above RQF Level 3;
ii) Applicant workers must meet the threshold of 70 points to be eligible. To achieve 50 points, applicants must have an adequate command of English that is equivalent or above Level B1, a job offer from an approved sponsor and the job role must be at the appropriate skill level (equivalent or above RQF Level 3). The remaining 20 points are tradeable and may be awarded by either meeting the exact salary requirement or meeting a lesser and certain salary threshold but holding a PhD, health occupation or employment on the shortage occupation list.
- Changes have been made for visitors wishing to enter the UK
i) All EU nationals will be subject to the Visitor Rules;
ii) Visitors can stay in the UK for a period up to 6 months. During this time, they may enter the UK as many times as they wish on condition they are considered not to be living in the UK;
iii) Visitors will not have access to work or public funds;
iv) Visitors will not be able to switch visa categories to elongate their stay in the UK. This point however requires further clarification.
Should you have any queries regarding the above information or how the new system may affect you or if you are an employer and require legal assistance with a sponsor licence application, please get in touch with a legal professional at Hudson McKenzie via email at email@example.com or by telephone +44(0) 20 3318 5794.