Personnel Today – published 19 February 2020

Employers have been advised not to panic in reaction to the newly published details on the proposed points-based immigration system that will take effect from 1 January 2021.

The policy is still to be approved by parliament but it is expected to be incorporated into immigration legislation for January 2021.

Personnel Today spoke to immigration law specialists Migrate UK who described the announcement as the first stage of an evolving system, but warned that preparations for the new regime would mean rising costs and increased bureaucracy for employers hoping to recruit overseas staff.

“What employers must note is that the Home Office plans to open key routes from Autumn 2020 so that migrants can start to apply ahead of the system taking effect,” explains Jonathan Beech, Migrate UK’s managing director.

In preparation, Personnel Today suggests:

1. Check sponsor status and settled status

Employers without a Home Office-approved sponsor licence need to first consider whether they will want to sponsor skilled migrants in the future, and begin the process to secure a licence. Employers will need a Tier 2 sponsor licence if they wish to hire both EU and non-EU nationals from 1 January 2021.

2. Understand how the points system works

The Home Office already operates a points-based visa system for workers coming from outside the EU – like the new regime, points are awarded based on factors such as English language skills, sponsorship and meeting a certain salary threshold.

Under the new system, anyone from outside the UK will have to gain at least 70 points to qualify for a visa and the right to work in the UK. So an offer of a job by an approved sponsor would be worth 20 points, for example, and a job at an appropriate level also 20.

3. Start planning access to low-skilled workers

A scheme for seasonal agricultural workers will be extended, however this is unlikely to help care homes and hotel chains, who have noticed a drop in EU migrant workers.

4. Consider self-employed workers

Another source of labour that may possibly be curtailed by the points-based system is the freelance workforce, which received no mention at all in the government policy document, other than to confirm there will be no dedicated route for self-employed people.

5. Plan the budget

Employers will need to significantly increase their use of Tier 2 sponsorship or apply for a Tier 2 sponsor licence if they do not already have one. This will require more HR reporting and record keeping duties as more employees come within the sponsorship system.

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