The UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) has published the Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules which set out the legal framework for the new immigration system.
- 12/1/2020: skilled worker route opens
- 12/31/2020: free movement rights end for EU citizens moving to UK and British citizens moving to EU. EU citizens resident in the UK before 11pm on December 31, 2020 are eligible to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme before the June 30, 2021 deadline.
- 1/31/2021: Hong Kong British National (Overseas) route opens
- 6/30/2021: deadline for EU citizens in UK to apply to EU Settlement Scheme
EU/EEA/Swiss nationals arriving UK before December 31, 2020
Regulations will automatically extend right of residence to June 30, 2021 for EU/EEA/Swiss nationals lawfully residing in UK by December 31, 2020.
Employers CANNOT require EU/EEA/Swiss citizens to show you their status under the EU Settlement Scheme until after June 30, 2021. Employers cannot force their existing EU citizen workforce to submit EU Settlement Scheme applications but can encourage them to do so and provide information and support to them on how to apply. Employers will rightly be keen to avoid any suggestion they are discriminating against EU citizens because of their nationality.
We expect to receive more guidance from UKVI close to the June 30, 2021 deadline.
What to do now:
- If you know that the EU citizen recruit needs permission to work under the immigration system, don’t employ them on the basis of their EU passport or national ID card alone.
- Don’t ask them for further documents beyond their passport or national ID card but do consider asking the employee when they first arrived in the UK to decipher if this was before or after the end of the Brexit transition period. Whilst employers need to be careful in relation to avoiding any suggestion of discrimination in the recruitment process, they also need to be mindful of their legitimate interests to avoid employing someone illegally.
- Do provide them with information on the EU Settlement Scheme and if they are ineligible the need to apply under the new post-Brexit immigration system for an appropriate work visa, such as a Skilled Worker visa.
- Do ask all candidates for evidence of their right to work at the same time in a recruitment process, preferably earlier rather than later to avoid a ‘first morning’ difficulty of the EU citizen requiring permission to work under the new immigration system.
New immigration rules for non-EU nationals and EU/EEA/Swiss nationals arriving after December 31, 2020
Applications for work permit under the new system will open on December 1, 2020 for non-EU nationals. EU nationals will be eligible to apply under the new system from within the United Kingdom starting January 1, 2021, and EU nationals applying for entry clearance will be eligible starting January 1, 2021 as well. Irish nationals will not require a visa or permission to work.
Skilled Worker route replaces Tier 2 (General) on December 1, 2020
|Rules||Current Tier 2||Future Skilled Worker|
|Minimum Skill Level:||RQF6||RQF3|
|Minimum annual salary:||£30,000||£25,600|
|Annual Limit on RCoS:||20,700||None|
|Switching most visa route:||No||Yes|
|Maximum period with visa:||6 yrs (T2 Gen), 9 yrs (T2 ICT high earners)||Only for ICTs|
|Cooling off:||12 months for Tier 2 Gen and T2 ICT||Only for non-high earner ICTs|
Settlement/Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
An applicant will be eligible if they have spent five continuous years in the United Kingdom on the Skilled Worker visa (including all time spent in Tier 2 (General) category.
What to do now
- Get a sponsor license if you don’t already have one
- Talk to your recruitment team about the wider range of jobs which can be sponsored
- Consider switching employees who have Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) visas into the Skilled Worker route
- Budget for increased visa costs which you will incur when you employ EU citizens moving to the UK after the end of 2020
- Encourage your EU citizen staff members to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme
- If you are thinking of recruiting or transferring EU citizens to the UK – consider doing this before the end of 2020
- Plan ahead for British employees who will be traveling to the EU next year – will they need a work visa?
Hong Kong British National (Overseas) – BN(O) Visa Immigration
Applicants can now apply for the BN(O) visa from January 31, 2021. All applicants applying under the BN(O) visa route will be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain (permanent residence) after five years’ continuous residence in the UK. As such, applicants who are eligible to apply under this route will also be on a path to obtaining British citizenship.
There are two distinct routes available:
- The BN(O) Status Holder Route, for BN(O) citizens ordinarily resident in Hong Kong or the UK and their dependent family members
- The BN(O) Household Member Route, for adult children of BN(O) citizens, born on or after July 1, 1997, and their dependent family members, provided they all form part of the same household as the BN(O) citizen and ordinarily resident in Hong Kong or the UK.
- All applicants under the BN(O) visa route can apply for settlement after five years’ continuous residence in the UK.
- The BN(O) visa route is a generous route for Hong Kong people with BN(O) status. While the BN(O) visa route is not open until January 31, 2021, it remains the case that BN(O) citizens and family members can currently apply for ‘leave outside the rules’ on entry to the UK, provided that there are no other immigration visa categories available to them and that they satisfy the requirements above.
- While the current position is that new applications for registration as a BN(O) cannot be made beyond July 1, 1997, this is something which is currently being reviewed in a Hong Kong Bill 2019-2021 in UK Parliament so it remains possible that this status could be available to a wider group of applicants in the future.