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Employing people from outside of the UK after Brexit: Q&A

21 April 2020

The government has unveiled further details about a new immigration system that will be introduced as a result of the UK’s exit from the European Union.

In this article, we answer some frequently-asked questions about employing non-UK nationals after Brexit. Click the links to jump to the answers or scroll down to read the article in full.

What is the new system after Brexit?

The new points-based system effectively extends the current system. At the moment businesses only need to sponsor individuals they are employing from outside of the European Economic Area (the EU plus Switzerland, Norway and Liechtenstein) but from 1 January 2021 the scheme will be extended to include Europe.

Why is the start date 1 January 2021 when we have already left the EU?

When the UK left the EU it was agreed that free movement rights would continue until the end of 2020.

No, the job must meet a minimum skill level and be paid a minimum salary level, although exceptions do apply if the role is on the shortage occupation list.

How do I work out if the job meets the required skill and salary level?

UK Visas & Immigration provide a list of jobs which detail example job tasks and the minimum salary which must be paid to someone performing that role. Each job has its own code. When you apply to sponsor someone you have to select the appropriate code and state it on your application along with details of the role. UK Visas & Immigration will assess if the role you describe sufficiently matches your selected code and whether the proposed salary meets the required minimum.

Our business already employs people who are EU citizens. Do we need to do anything?

No, you do not need to do anything in respect of EU citizens who you already employ. If you want to employ EU citizens who are not in the UK by the end of the year you will need to sponsor them.

How do we go about sponsoring someone?

You will need to apply to UK Visas & Immigration for a specific licence (a sponsor licence). When this is in place, you will need to assign a certificate of sponsorship to each migrant worker who you wish to sponsor. Once the assignment is approved by UK Visas & Immigration the individual can make their visa application.

Is it expensive to sponsor someone?

UK Visas & Immigration charge businesses £536 or £1476 for a licence depending on the size of the business. A licence is valid for four years. You will also be required to pay £199 for a certificate of sponsorship in respect of each person you wish to sponsor, and an immigration skills charge. This is a hefty £1000 (or £364 for a smaller business) per sponsored employee for each year you wish to sponsor them, and it needs to be paid upfront; so if the individual is applying for a 3 year visa you will be required to pay £3,000 prior to them starting work for you. You therefore need to be confident that they are the right person for the position and will bring value to the business.

Is there anything else we need to bear in mind when sponsoring people after Brexit?

Once you have a sponsor licence you will also be expected to observe a number of compliance obligations ranging from reporting specific information to UK Visas & Immigration to ensuring that you keep specific records in respect of each sponsored employee.

We already have a sponsor licence, do we need to do anything?

This will depend on the visa category (tier) that your licence covers. You may need to amend your existing licence to extend to a further tier or tier sub-category.

How can Willans help?

  • Licence application

Our experienced team of business immigration specialists know what is required to submit a successful licence application, and will work with you to ensure a strong application is submitted.

  • Review of the role

We will carry out a review of the role you wish to sponsor someone in to ensure it meets the required skill and salary level. We carry out this review prior to a licence application being made to avoid you investing time and money to secure a licence to sponsor a role which would not meet the minimum levels required.

  • Ongoing support

Once the licence is in place we can continue to help you assign new certificates of sponsorship as and when you need them. We also work with your HR or senior management to ensure you meet your ongoing compliance duties and identify any shortcomings that would be picked up by UK Visas & Immigration should they visit you.

If your business would benefit from advice on the above or another business immigration matter, please call 01242 514000 or email Helen Howes in our business immigration team; we will be delighted to help.

Email Helen

Helen is an employment law masters’ graduate with extensive experience in employee relations and negotiations. She also advises businesses on immigration matters and assists them with securing sponsorship licences. 

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Helen Howes LLM
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