We have seen the first glimpse of how the new Points Based System will look after 31 December 2020. The changes are not as complicated as feared, however, it is important for businesses that sponsor and employ EU nationals to start planning now. This post looks into the key areas of this new legislation in regards to sponsoring EU nationals and what it means for individual companies.
1. Scope of Changes to Sponsoring EU Nationals
Who will be affected?
Importantly for employers is that this amended scheme will cover EU nationals. This means that employers relying on workers from the EU will need to make some significant adjustments.
When are the changes coming in?
Free movement will continue during the transition period; this is due in to end in December, and from 1 January 2021 all EU nationals who arrive in the UK for work will need to be sponsored.
The revised scheme will incorporate a lower salary minimum threshold of £25,600 (or £20,480 for those in shortage occupations or who have PhDs in STEM subjects, or £23,040 for those with PhDs in other disciplines).
Of fundamental importance for employers in certain sectors is that, whilst the skills threshold will be lowered to A-level standard (compared to the current degree-level), there will be no provision for unskilled workers.
There has been a shift away from the early indications that there would be a 12-month visa scheme for unskilled working to a seasonal scheme for agricultural workers, care homes and other business who rely on many European staff in unskilled roles. There is the possibility that the labour force in these areas may reduce going forward.
Resident Labour Market Test
It appears that the Resident Labour Market Test, whereby most jobs have to be advertised to the resident labour force as a prerequisite for sponsorship, will be abandoned.
2. Key Changes to the Immigration System
In summary, two things are clear from the changes:
- This is not as complicated as the Australian points-based system: indicators are that applicants will have very little flexibility as to how they collect the points needed. Generally, they will either meet the requirements or they will not be granted a visa; and
- Employers will need to start planning their human resources now. Those without sponsor licences will need to keep an eye on what the final scheme looks like and will need to think ahead in terms of applying for a sponsor licence in good time before the changes come in.
We will continue to monitor the progress of this legislation and provide updates when there is significant action or confirmed change.