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  • Writer's pictureMark Edwards

Changes to UK Immigration

Updated: Jan 11, 2023

What is changing and when?

  1. 31st of December 2020 – Freedom of movement between the EU and the UK ends

  2. 1st of January 2021 – the UK points-based immigration system takes effect

  3. 30th June 2021 – the deadline for the EU Settlement Scheme

However, the UK points-based immigration system is not yet fully finalised. Employers will need to keep an eye on the government website for updates up until and beyond 1st of January 2021.

Will non-UK job seekers need a Visa?

All migrants entering the UK from the 1st of January 2021 will require either:

  1. A visitor visa

  2. A student visa

  3. A skilled worker visa

  4. A Global Talent Scheme visa

However, it is worth noting that, under ‘Other Routes, Section 23’ of the policy statement, the government expects to treat EU visitors as ‘non-visa nationals’. This means that they can stay in the UK as visitors for up to 6 months without requiring a visa.

How will the new UK Immigration System impact recruitment?

As of the 1st of January 2021, the new points-based system will apply to all people arriving in the UK.  In terms of how this will impact recruitment, employers will need to adjust their processes to ensure that they are compliant with right to work checks for all EU and non-EU migrants. They will also need to be vigilant of visa expiry dates and keep track of these.

What will the requirements be for low-skilled workers to enter the UK?

As the situation stands, the policy statement asserts that the government will not implement a route for low-skilled workers. Therefore, any migrant with a salary requirement below £25,600 (reduced from £30,000 in the original system) will not be eligible for a visa.

The aim of this decision is to reduce overall migration numbers.

Therefore, companies who have been reliant upon Freedom of Movement for their workforce might encounter significantly reduced talent pools. For example, Glassdoor estimates that the average salary for a production operative with 2-7 years’ experience is £22,204 per annum. This is below the minimum salary requirement of £25,600 for a visa.

Therefore, companies might have to invest in training facilities in order to up-skill economically inactive candidates or those who have little to no previous experience.

However, if this does not work, we might find that these types of roles are eventually placed on the occupation shortage list. In such a scenario, migrants would still need to fulfil the criteria to gain 70 points, but the minimum salary requirement for shortage occupations will be set at £20,480 rather than £25,600.

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