What lies ahead – Brexit updates for UK immigration

Brexit and new immigration policies

We are months away from the completion of the Brexit process. The world is eagerly watching and on the immigration front, people are catching up with the updates and we couldn’t wait to share what we know.

The most important change that is happening in UK immigration is the introduction of a points-based immigration framework. There’s much to understand about this new development. So, let’s dive right in!

The new system will put more focus on bringing skilled workers to the UK. This policy will be applicable to both EU and non-EU migrants from January 1, 2021. That will also mark the end of free movement between the UK and the EU.

There will be an equal treatment given to EU and non-EU nationals while there will also be more flexibility given to employers who invite the immigrants to the UK.

Now, to more details concerning the immigrants and employers.

  • The ICT is all set to continue, but with changes in policy. Foreign workers will now face no restriction in switching to the Skilled Worker route. There’s an amendment in the cards too to prevent an ICT foreign worker from holding his visa for over 5 years in any 6-year period. For this, the cooling-off period will be amended.
  • Another route that will stay on is the Global Talent route. This route will be available to employees who are EU nationals, from January 1, 2021. The UK government will also maintain the innovator and start-up routes, which in fact needs better definition and boost.
  • Coming to students, there’s clarification regarding the need for a sponsor license for colleges, universities, and independent schools wanting to admit international students. These students will include those that are new EU arrivals. So, now student visa routes will be available to both EU and non-EU citizens. The basic requirements of sufficient skills in the English language and enough money for paying for studies and self-support will stay so.
  • For employers, the new requirement that will come up will be the need for a sponsor license to recruit EU and non-EU workers in the UK. From January 1, 2021, this new rule will be implemented. Sponsors will have to show that the roles to which workers are taken meet skill and salary requirements and are credible. What’s more, the government will also keep checking whether the sponsors are genuine and solvent.
  • Talking about skill levels, the job role offered to sponsored workers will have to maintain Regulations Qualifications Framework (RFQ) Level 3. This is equivalent to A-Level. Currently, this requirement is RFQ Level 6, which is equivalent to degree level qualification.
  • There is a reduction in the minimum threshold for salaries. The reduction is from £30,000 to £25,600. For applicants who have got a Ph.D. in a STEM subject that has relevance to the role offered on the Shortage Occupation List this could mean lesser salary. Lesser salary should be expected by new entrants in the labor market too.
  • A major move is the removal of the cap on the number of people who can arrive in the UK annually via the Skilled Worker route.
  • Among scrapped entities is the requirement for RLMT. Though the test is scrapped, employees will still have to find a genuine vacancy that satisfies the salary and skill thresholds outlined in the new set of rules. The possibility of the creation of roles simply to facilitate immigration will be kept under check. For this, the PAYE records will be subjected to regular reviews, which will ensure that foreign workers are paid the right salary.
  • Even under the new immigration framework, the UK government will continue charging the ISC. This will come up to £1,000 for a visa annually. This charge, which currently applies only to non-EU foreign workers, will be made applicable to EU nationals too from January 1, 2021. For employers, it will mean an increased cost of recruiting workers from the EU.
  • There’s going to be an effect on IHS also under the new system. The IHS is a fee levied to ensure that a fair contribution towards the NHS care is made by the foreign workers as well as their dependents applying for a leave from outside the UK to remain in the UK and continue getting the NHS benefits. The IHS will be raised from £400 to £624 from October 1, 2020. Also, the IHS will be levied even on EU workers from January 1, 2021.
  • If you have no skills to meet the salary or skills threshold prescribed for the Skilled Worker route, you won’t be able to do immigration to the UK from January 1, 2021.
  • A new category of visa, which is a part of the Skilled Worker route, will be introduced. This will be called the Health and Care visa. Workers in jobs in care homes and those providing home care will not have use of this visa.
  • For international students, a new graduate immigration route will be opened. This route will be applicable for those students who have completed their degree in the UK from summer 2021. Graduate students could find employment or work in the UK at any skill level for not more than 2 years.

There are future plans as well in the new immigration framework in the UK. They include:

  • Introduction of an unsponsored work visa to let a certain number of highly-skilled workers to arrive in the UK without an offer for a job
  • Permission for nationals of the EU and other countries, who don’t need visas to enter the UK, to enter the UK for a maximum period of 6 months with such privilege

Let’s leave you enchanted with the developments in the UK immigration scene with this parting update. The UK government is planning to introduce a universal “permission to travel”. This will need anyone wanting to travel to the UK to seek advance permission for such travel. This one is not applicable to Irish and British citizens.

To this end, the UK will introduce ETAs for visitors. ETAs will also be for passengers transiting through the UK without needing a visa for short stays or for those without an immigration status prior to the trip.

There are more updates expected in the days to come.

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Anshul Singhal

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