Cheryl Ma, Senior Immigration Caseworker
A new skills-based immigration system, will go live in the United Kingdom from 9am on 1st December 2020.
The new system prioritises migration for medium and higher-skilled work over nationality.
Given a high proportion of jobs have salaries of less than £30,000 per year in the UK, including in London, the government has accepted the Migration Advisory Committee’s recommendation on lowering the minimum salary thresholds from £30,000 to £25,600, with flexibility to allow migration at lower salary levels, by ‘trading’ specific characteristics (e.g. particular skills in shortage or specific qualifications) against a lower salary. For example, the salary for a migrant with a STEM PhD can be lowered to £20,480.
As you may be aware, the resident labour market test is to be scrapped under the new system. Having no need to advertise a vacancy in the UK might be good news for employers as it removes at least a further four weeks from the end-to-end process for sponsoring skilled workers. However, employers must still be seeking to fill a genuine vacancy, and this has left some uncertainty as to how and when the Home Office will assess whether a job is ‘genuine’.
Why employ EU/overseas nationals?
Many businesses rely on non-UK nationals to fill skills shortages in the UK because relevant skills or languages are not available in the current UK talent pool, especially for the construction, IT, healthcare and service industries, as well as seasonal work.
These businesses are likely to need to employ workers from outside the UK in the long run and will need to be a Home Office licensed sponsor in order to employ them to fill the skill gaps.
Why apply for a Sponsor Licence now?
Any employer who has a legitimate business trading in the UK is eligible to apply for a sponsor licence. Applying now will mean that you have sufficient time to become acquainted with the requirements and obligations related to becoming a licence holder. and Getting a head start means any future business growth will not be slowed down by immigration restrictions and will enable you to take advantage of the benefits an overseas migrant can bring into your business.
Act now and review your recruitment and retention policies as a matter of urgency so you are in the best position possible. Home Office application fees are currently kept at the same rate; these additional costs incurred when hiring may have an impact to some employers but this may be worth it where it enables you to employ the best candidate to fit your business needs without worrying about their immigration status, as well as having more diversity in your workplace.
Please note – this article does not constitute legal advice.