Working in the UK after Brexit may seem slightly challenging for both EU citizens and foreign nationals. This is because the UK has changed its immigration rules for workers and has now replaced the former Tier 2 (General) Work Visa, with the new Skilled Worker Visa route.
The Skilled Worker Visa applies to both EU and foreign nationals and puts them both on an equal footing with regards to employment opportunities in the UK. Applying under this visa route may seem daunting for many, especially for EU nationals who up until January 1st 2021, had open access to freely come and live and work in the UK. However, it is not that complicated provided that the applicant is applying for a “highly skilled” job, speaks English to a B1 standard and is qualified enough to gain the correct number of “points” that are required under the new Points-Based Immigration System.
The new Points-Based System launched by the UK government in the lead up to the finalisation of Brexit at the end of 2020, was modelled on a similar system from Australia, where applicants must get a minimum number of points in order to gain permission to live and work there. For the UK system, any applicant who applies under the Skilled Worker Visa must be able to get a minimum number of 70 points, and this applies to both EU nationals and foreign nationals who are seeking employment opportunities as of January 1st, 2021. 50 out of the 70 points are mandatory criteria that must be met by all applicants; the final 20 points can be mixed and matched from the remaining criteria. For more information about the structure of the new Points-Based System, please visit the official Home Office website here.
Moreover, UK based companies who would like to employ foreign nationals and those from the EU post Brexit must also apply for a Skilled Worker Sponsorship License in order to allow them to hire such individuals. The Skilled Worker Visa only applies to those who are seeking “highly skilled” jobs in the UK; therefore, the businesses in question who would like to employ individuals form aborad must also make sure that they have “highly skilled” job vacancies that they can present to the Home Office within their sponsorship license application.
The application process for UK based companies to obtain Skilled Worker Visa sponsorship licenses is related to showing evidence of the genuine working activities of the company, evidence that the company pays tax and vat, evidence that the company has appropriate insurance, evidence of rent and also evidence that the correct Human Resource (HR) procedures are followed internally. After an application is made by a company to the Home Office, an inspection may well take place to make sure that everything presented in the application is truthful and genuine before a sponsorship license is issued. If all the criteria are fulfilled, and the inspection is passed, companies can usually expect to receive their licenses in 3-8 weeks from the date of their application, however, if complications arise this could take longer.
The Skilled Worker Visa, its relevant Sponsorship License for companies and the new Points-Based System are all new assets of UK immigration law. Still, in fact, their creation and implementation have softened the rules for those who are looking for “highly skilled” job opportunities in the UK rather than made them harder. They have however changed the previous rules that were applicable under the Tier 2 General Work Visa and also the fact that EU nationals could come and work in the UK up until the end of 2020 as recipients of the “free movement of people” policy that was part and parcel of the Maastricht Treaty signed by all EU members in 1992.
Navigating through such new immigration rules can be tricky for both companies who want to employ foreign nationals, and also for foreign nationals themselves who are seeking “highly skilled” job opportunities in the UK. When the rules change, there is always a period of time where everyone must adapt and get used to them. If there is any doubt about the new processes involved, it is always useful to seek advice from those who know before filing an application. Expert immigration law firms such as Gulbenkian Andonian Immigration Solicitors in London can be of assistance here by providing the most up to date information about how to come to the UK to live and work.