Points based style Immigration System and an End to Free Movement
On 19th February 2020, the Home Office published a policy paper, The UK’s points-based immigration system which announces pivotal policy changes to UK immigration. In alignment with the UK government’s manifesto commitments to end free movement, reduce net migration and only attract skilled labour into the UK, it has delivered the following changes: –
- No immigration route for low-skilled migrant workers
- 70 points eligibility criteria for skilled overseas workers
Overseas migrants must now possess certain characteristics in order to be eligible to qualify for a visa. They must meet the ‘appropriate skill’ level, have secured a job offer in that skilled occupation and speak English.
To achieve a minimum of 50 points, migrant workers must have a skilled job offer from an “approved sponsor” and speak English. In order to achieve the remaining 20 points required to meet the 70 points threshold, other characteristics must be satisfied which include: salaries, education qualifications and job offers in a ‘shortage occupation’ prescribed by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC). These characteristics are considered ‘tradeable’. This means that applicants can still meet the 70 points criteria by having a salary lower than the minimum threshold or the going rate in that particular field yet having specific education qualifications and job offers, for example.
Implications for recruitment agencies and their businesses:
What this means for recruitment agencies and their businesses is that there can no longer be any reliance on the UK immigration system to recruit low-skilled workers. Instead, agencies and their business must focus on staff retention, higher levels of productivity and broadening the base for skilled workers with backgrounds in STEM subjects, technology and automation.
Concerns have been expressed by some major UK bodies, such as the Royal College of Nursing and the UK Homecare Association, that needs of crucial sectors such as health care will not be met. Other concerns are whether businesses will go bust or move elsewhere overseas.
How businesses can adapt their processes:
UK employers and businesses must now “adapt and adjust” to the end of free movement of EU workers. It is suggested that businesses solely reliant on low-skilled labour adjust by introducing labour-saving techniques, such as investing in new machinery and technology.
Ultimately, businesses need to be absolutely aware of requisite salary thresholds and skill levels required under the 70 points-based system to recruit eligible workers from overseas.
With the aim for employers to meet UK labour market demands, the 3.2 million applicants for the European Settlement Scheme will still be permitted to stay and work in the UK. Additionally, initiatives will be proposed in the future for NHS Workers, graduates, scientists and those working in the agricultural sector to ease employers into this transition. Already, the UK government has issued a “youth mobility” arrangement for 20,000 young workers to come into the UK per year. A similar pilot scheme respectively applies for 10,000 seasonal workers in agriculture.
Employers not currently approved by the Home Office to be a sponsor should consider doing so now if they think they will want to sponsor skilled migrants, including from the EU, from early 2021.
This policy will continuously be monitored by the Home Office and MAC.
Should you require further information regarding the above, please get in touch with the Global Mobility professional you deal with at Hudson McKenzie via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone +44(0) 20 3318 5794.