UK immigration options from January 2021 - | Hudson McKenzie

UK immigration options from January 2021

As of January 2021, the Brexit transition period will come to an end and the UK will have officially left the European Union (EU). For EEA (European Economic Area) nationals and their employers, this begs the question of how business travellers and citizens from EEA countries can continue to enter and work in the UK from January 2021?

It must be remembered that the Common Travel Area (CTA) is to still be maintained once the UK has left the EU. What this means is that British and Irish citizens can still enjoy identical benefits of entering, residing, working, studying, and accessing public funds and healthcare services in the UK after Brexit. Hence, Irish citizens are not required to take any action to continue working after 31st December 2020.

After 1st January 2021, it is advised that EEA nationals and their employers consider the following immigration routes for entering and working in the UK after Brexit:

EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS)

The EUSS allows resident EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members to apply for UK immigration status. Upon a successful determination of their applications, this means they will be able to remain in the UK after 30th June 2021.

The immigration status proffered to applicants under the scheme is either settled status or pre-settled status.

Settled status allows individuals to remain in the UK for a 5-year period however they cannot be absent from the UK for a period of up to 6 months within a period of 12 months. Pre-settled status grants individuals the right to live and remain in the UK for up to 5 years with discretion to be absent from the UK for a maximum and consecutive period of 2 years.

The main advantages of applying for immigration status under the EUSS are:

  • No application fee
  • Exemption from paying Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)

It must be borne in mind that UK immigration applications can be costly, so this route is inexpensive by comparison. In addition, applicants who are only eligible for pre-settled status means they can still spend a substantial amount of time in the UK for a period of 5 years, especially if their employment or business activities and travel arrangements do not align with other immigration categories. 

Frontier Worker Status

Frontier worker status applies if an individual is either an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen and they live in any EEA country, but they commute to the UK daily because they are employed or self-employed within the UK.

Individuals who already have frontier worker status before the beginning of 2021 may need to apply for a frontier worker permit from 2021 to continue working in the UK as a frontier worker. The UK government is yet to provide further information on this immigration route in terms of the application process and its eligibility requirements.

Tier 2 Sponsored Worker Route

Employers may want to sponsor workers from outside of the UK through the new Skilled Worker route starting from 2021. It is important for employers to consider and carefully select which immigration category suits the goals and intent of the individuals they would like to sponsor. Equally, in line with guidance by the Home Office for sponsoring foreign workers, employers should consider the following issues:

Sponsor licence requirement

Employers are required to hold a sponsor licence to recruit workers from overseas into the UK. Typically, this can cost from £536-£1,476 in UKVI application fees and must be renewed every four years.

Immigration application fees

There are numerous costs associated with the Tier 2 route. These costs include visa application fees, immigration skills charge, immigration health surcharge, sponsor licence application (if not obtained), certificate of sponsorship as well as other charges e.g. priority service fee. To make this process more affordable, employers are advised to forward plan and bring the start date of their employment to 2020 or aid workers to enter the UK also in 2020 if they are currently not residing in the UK.

English language requirement

Individuals must have a command of English that meets the specified UK standard.

Minimum qualifying salary requirement

The salary requirement for the job offer must either be greater than the general salary requirement of £25,600.00 or the “going rate” for the worker’s occupation in line with Immigration Rules Appendix J.

Qualifications and employment history

If candidates do not satisfy some of the criteria to make up the value of 70 points, individuals can trade characteristics. By way of example, individuals may hold certain qualifications, or a job offer for an occupation listed on the shortage occupation list if their job offer is less than the minimum salary requirement.

Other routes

Alternatively, there are or will be other specific immigration routes available depending on individual circumstances and purposes. These include:

  • Graduate route
  • Global Talent Visa
  • Health and Care Visa
  • Start Up and Innovator Visa
  • Tier 1 Investor Visa
  • Seasonal Workers Pilot Scheme
  • Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme
  • Tier 5 Government Approved Exchange
  • Visitor Visa
  • Sole Representative Visa
  • Tier 4 Visa
  • Tier 1 Post Study Visa (to be launched in Summer 2021)
  • Tier 1 Highly Skilled Migrant Visa (details yet to be announced)

Further details on the above-mentioned routes can be viewed on the Home Office website or in our previous publications.

Should you require any further information or if you would like legal advice and assistance with your immigration matters before or after Brexit, please get in touch with a professional at Hudson McKenzie via email at or by telephone +44(0) 20 3318 5794.