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The new UK Immigration System – Skilled Worker Category

Skilled worker category - the new immigration system introduced by the UK Government, which is to come into effect from 01 January 2021, when the free movement ends. For the first time in decades, EEA and Swiss nationals will be subject to the same immigration controls and will be considered under the same system as non-EU migrants.

Organisations wishing to recruit skilled overseas workers (including EU) from 01 January 2021 are now required to obtain a valid Sponsor Licence, and much more eased approach has been adopted by the Home Office to grant CoS allocations. Alongside a Resident Labour Market Test universal exemption, the Home Office has introduced various relaxations which immediately highlight the Skilled Worker visa category, as an appealing route to relocate to the UK. Such relaxations include a lower skills threshold and tradable points, which can lead applicants from different backgrounds to join UK-based companies in employment.

Skilled Worker Category

Skilled migrant workers may be sponsored by organisations who hold a sponsor licence issued by the UK Home Office. The applications can be made from 9 AM 01 December 2020.

Key changes are as below.

The proposed job role must be at the medium skilled level of RQF 3 (school leaver and above) and be on the Standard Occupational Code (SOC) job list.

Experienced workers” must earn at least £25,600 or the SOC code minimum salary, whichever is higher. Lower salary thresholds are available for those roles which are at PhD Level or are on the Shortage Occupation List.

“New entrants’” salary will be set 30 per cent lower than the “experienced workers” SOC code minimum salary,  the minimum of £20,480 must always be met.

The Resident Labour Market Test is abolished & annual quota for Restricted CoS is suspended.

The cooling off period of 12 months for Tier 2 ICT visa holders has been abolished.

The minimum salary level for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) applications is abolished and replaced with £25,600 or the going rate for the occupation.

A substantial obstacle of this new skilled worker visa will remain meeting the English language requirement.  This continues to remain part of the untradable points, with a minimum of the mandatory requirement at CEFR Level 1.

What will happen to Tier 2 (ICT)?

Intra Company Transfer (ICT) category will remain; however, significant changes will apply to individuals who are being admitted on the route. Indeed, the new skilled worker visa will be accessible to qualifying individuals who wish to switch in country. Cooling off periods will also be amended to prevent ICT migrants holding leave for more than 5 years in any 6-year period, yet allowing better prospects to employers and employees who require flexibility for short-term assignments.

Employers who have recently obtained Sponsor Licence

Organizations which already hold valid Tier 2 Sponsor Licence will automatically be granted a new Skilled Worker licence, and the expiry date will be consistent with their current licence. Employers who do not have a licence should look to obtain a Sponsor Licence if they intent to hire foreign nationals from and post January 2021. UKVI is planning to introduce priority processing for Sponsor Licence applications from November 2020.

Updated: 26 October 2020

Disclaimer: No material or information provided on this website should be construed as legal advice. Readers should always seek appropriate professional advice to resolve their Legal Matters.
About the Author

  Arti Adarsh

Arti is a CIPD qualified HR Consultant specialising in providing professional advice, guidance and assistance to companies on becoming a licensed sponsor and meeting the sponsor duties as well as compliance obligations under PBS Skilled Worker Route.

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