The New Skilled Worker Route

With the upcoming near ending of the transition period of Brexit on 31st December 2020, the UK will be able to take full control in managing the entry and stay of all future migrants. As of recent, EU migrants have not needed to obtain a visa to work in the UK. However, this is due to change on 1st January 2021 under the New Skilled Worker Route which sets to replace the Tier 2 (General) route. This new system will apply to EU citizens and Non-EU citizens alike.

This new route not only includes EU citizens, but also is due to make further key changes.

Some of the key changes highlighted in this new system are as follows:

Lowering the minimum occupational skill to RQF Level 3, which is equivalent to A-Levels or Scottish Highers. Although, applicants do not necessarily need to have these qualifications as long as they are able to fulfil the skill level of the job they are applying for. This was advised by the Migration Advisory Committee in their ‘EEA migration in the UK: Final report’, September 2018 to ensure there aren’t any skilled shortages within particular sectors after the transition period.

The general salary threshold is being lowered from £30,000pa to £25,600pa. This will also be the minimum salary for settlement applications. The going rates will be supervised by the Migration Advisory Committee. Those sponsored in shortage occupations or listed health or education occupations may be paid £20,480 per year but their salary must equal or exceed the going rate for the occupation.  Other salary reductions permitted through tradeable points will not apply to settlement applications.

Sponsored workers may be paid less than the above amounts, depending on the tradeable points they are awarded.  Applicants must be awarded 70 points in total. The Government have issued the document ‘The UK’s Points-Based Immigration System’ in July 2020 which states that by meeting the mandatory criteria, applicants will earn 50 points. A further 20 ‘tradeable’ points can be obtained through a combination of the salary being higher than the general salary threshold or above the going rate for that particular job, if the job is in a shortage occupation or if the applicant has a relevant PhD. If the applicant is being paid less than the general minimum threshold, the document states they are to be paid at least £20,480.

Suspension of the cap placed on the number of Tier 2 visas issued. This again was advised by the Migration Advisory Committee as their findings showed the cap constraints the influx of those high-to-medium skilled migrants that the economy would benefit from. Also, they found once the cap is reached, there can be sharp increases in the minimum salary thresholds for certain occupations, imposing higher costs on employers. The government in their White Paper explained they are open to removing the cap to ensure there aren’t any limits on the volumes of skilled migrants to the UK economy.

Abolishment of the Resident Labour Market Test. This was originally designed to protect the interests of British citizens and foreign settled workers by ensuring the vacancy is advertised domestically before a Tier 2 visa is issued to a foreign worker with the essential skills. However, it has also been heavily criticised for wasting employers’ time and restricting skilled labour into the UK. The government accepted this in their White Paper and decided by removing the Resident Labour Market Test it would speed up the process for UK employers.

Removal of the ’12 month cooling off period.’ With the current system, if a Tier 2 migrant were to leave the UK, they would have to wait 12 months before reapplying in the same route. This again was removed to ensure there aren’t any limits of skilled migrants into the UK economy. For bespoke advice on how we can help your business prepare to adopt to this new points based immigration system, please fill out the enquiry form on the ‘Contact Us’ tab.