What does the UK's new points based system mean for employers?

What does the UK's new points based system mean for employers?

The government recently announced details of a new immigration system which will come into force in January 2021.

Currently, EU citizens coming into the UK do not need to hold a visa to work in the UK, due to the Free Movement of Workers Principle. The new points-based Immigration system would signify the end of freedom of movement which allowed EU citizens unrestricted access to any employment in the UK.

The Government insists that by ending free movement, the UK will attract high-skilled workers who contribute to our economy, our communities, our public services and create a high productivity economy.

Fundamentally, the new system will also see EU citizens treated the same as those from the rest of the world, when applying to UK work visa.  

How will the points system exactly work?

A total of 70 points will be required for an Applicant to be eligible to apply for a work visa. Points will be received through meeting certain characteristics. Applicants must have a job offer from an approved sponsor at an appropriate skill level and must be able to meet the English language requirement. These characteristics are mandatory and non-tradable.

What’s interesting about the new visa regime is that certain characteristics will be tradable, such as working in a shortage occupation or a doctorate degree (PhD) can be traded against a salary lower than the minimum salary or the ‘going rate’ in their field. Applicant’s will receive extra points such as:

  • 10 points for a PhD relevant to the job;
  • 20 points for a PhD in Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths
  • 20 points for an offer of a job on UK Shortage Occupation List

To put this in context, aa Graphic Designer seeking to enter the UK under the new points-based system earning £23,000 per annum, would receive: 20 points for their job offer from a Home Office approved Sponsor; 20 points for their RQF 3 qualification, 10 points for English language.

However, despite failing to meet the minimum salary threshold of £20,480 – £23,039 per annum, a graphic designer would have accumulated the required 70 points to be awarded a work visa as they are currently in a specified shortage occupation.  They would receive 20 points for working in a shortage occupation, but be awarded 0 points for failing to meet the minimum salary threshold.

It is clear from the new rules that the government is prioritising the highly skilled, highly educated and the most talented, taking into account that these individuals may not be highly paid. There are also renewed hopes that the new system will attract specialist workers such as scientists, engineers, academics, and health care workers to fill our skills shortage in the STEM sector. Skills shortage in the STEM sector is costing it £.1.5 Billion a year.

How exactly does the new rules effect employers?

After January 2021, all employers who are expecting to employ people from outside the UK (including the EU), or migrant workers already working for a Home Office approved sponsor in the UK, will have to make an application to become an approved sponsor.

Becoming an approved sponsor, requires an organisation to obtain a sponsor licence by meeting certain business and documentary requirements.

The Home Office has been encouraging employers to make an application ahead of free movement ending, in order to avoid potential delays and disruptions in processing times caused by an expected influx of applications to become approved. Currently, most applications (8 out of 10) are dealt with in less than 8 weeks.                                                                           

Why apply to become an approved sponsor?

Thousands of organisations expecting to employ skilled workers from the EU will be caught out by the new changes in the rules come January 2021, as many employers are unaware of the significance of Free Movement of workers ending.

A number of studies reveal that UK organisations cannot always source their staff through our settled work force. With an addition of a Sponsor licence, a sponsored organisation is able to cast their net further afield, beyond the UK to find the best skilled candidate for their roles.

It also allows organisations to retain International graduate staff or workers on a temporary visa by sponsoring them. Certain migrants such as undergraduate students (and Postgrad) on a Tier 4 Study visa can apply to become sponsored workers from within the UK.   

There are also many practical benefits for organisations with more than one office in the UK, as a sponsor licence can cover all of their branches, and additional branches can be added or removed from their licence. Further, the license does not limit the number of workers which can be sponsored.

The Home Office charges a fee for small and charitable organisations (£536) and a fee for medium to large organisations (£1476). A Sponsor Licence lasts up to 4 years and can be renewed.

For more information on how your organisation can qualify to become an approved sponsor, contact our Head of Immigration, Pav Bassi on pav@queensbury-consulting.com.

Pav Bassi will be going live on ZOOM to present “What is a Sponsor Licence and how does my organisation qualify?” on 3rd September, 2020 at 15:00pm (BST).

To register your interest for free, please email laura@queensbury-consulting.com

The information in this article is for general information purposes only and does not purport to provide legal advice. Whilst we try to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be emphasised that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. The Queensbury Group accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this news article. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Queensbury. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Queensbury.