Guidance for employers. From 1 January 2021 you’ll need to have a sponsor licence to hire most workers from outside the UK.
From 1 January 2021, freedom of movement between the UK and EU will end and the UK will introduce an immigration system that will treat all applicants equally, regardless of where they come from. Anyone you want to recruit from outside the UK, excluding Irish citizens, will need to apply for permission first.
The requirements are different for each visa.
The new system will not apply to EEA or Swiss citizens you already employ in the UK. EEA and Swiss citizens living in the UK by 31 December 2020, and their family members, can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. They have until 30 June 2021 to apply.
From 1 January 2021 you’ll need to have a sponsor licence to hire most workers from outside the UK.
From 1 January 2021, anyone you recruit from outside the UK for the Skilled Worker route will need to demonstrate that:
- they have a job offer from a Home Office licensed sponsor
- they speak English at the required level
- the job offer is at the required skill level of RQF3 or above (equivalent to A level)
- they’ll be paid at least £25,600 or the ‘going rate’ for the job offer, whichever is higher.
If the job will pay less than this - but no less than £20,480 – the applicant may still be able to apply by ‘trading’ points on specific characteristics against their salary. For example, if they have a job offer in a shortage occupation or have a PhD relevant to the job.
There are different salary rules for workers in some health or education jobs, and for “new entrants” at the start of their careers.
Further information on which occupations are at the required skill level and the salaries for these occupations can be found in Annex E of the UK points-based immigration system: further details statement.
There will not be a general route for employers to recruit from outside the UK for jobs offering a salary below £20,480 or jobs at a skill level below RQF3.
If you’re not already a licensed sponsor and you think you’ll want to sponsor migrants through the skilled worker route from January 2021, you should apply now.
If you want to transfer a worker from a part of your business overseas to work for you in the UK, they can apply for the Intra-Company Transfer route. Applicants will need to be existing workers who will undertake roles that meet the skills and salary thresholds.
From 1 January 2021, workers transferring to the UK will need to:
- be sponsored as an Intra-Company Transfer by a Home Office licensed sponsor
- have 12 months’ experience working for a business overseas linked by ownership to the UK business they will work for.
- be undertaking a role at the required skill level of RQF6 or above (graduate level equivalent)
- be paid at least £41,500 or the ‘going rate’ for the job, whichever is higher
Permission for workers transferred to the UK on the Intra-Company Transfer route is temporary. Workers can be assigned to the UK multiple times, but they cannot stay in the UK for more than five years in any six-year period.
Workers paid over £73,900 do not need to have worked overseas for 12 months and can stay for up to nine years in any ten-year period.
Workers who are transferred to the UK as part of a structured graduate training programme for up to one year can apply for the Intra-Company Graduate Trainee route. The requirements are the same except there are different rules on length of overseas experience and salary.
If you’re not already a licensed sponsor and you think you’ll want to sponsor migrants through the Intra-Company Transfer or Intra-Company Graduate Trainee routes from January 2021, you should apply now.
A full list of worker routes can be read in the points-based system introduction for employers document.
Some visas allow the holder to work in the UK without a sponsor.
For example, the Global Talent route which is designed to attract recognised global leaders and promising individuals in science, humanities, engineering, the arts and digital technology.
While the Youth Mobility Scheme will enable around 20,000 young people (aged 18 to 30 years old) to come to the UK to work and travel each year.
You’ll still need to check if new employees have a right to work.
EEA and Swiss citizens can use their passport or national identity card to prove they can work in the UK until 30 June 2021.
If you’re already a Home Office licensed sponsor
If you’re already a licensed Tier 2 (General) visa sponsor, you’ll be automatically granted a new Skilled Worker licence.
If you’re an Intra-Company Transfer sponsor, you’ll be automatically granted a new Intra-Company Transfer licence.
Apply for a sponsor licence
If you think you’ll want to sponsor migrants from 1 January 2021, you should apply for a sponsor licence now.