The UK’s Points-Based Immigration System and
Advice for Cross-Border Traders

The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, now in place, means change. It will require adapting to new trading arrangements, rules and regulations. This information will introduce the UK’s Points-Based Immigration System, immigration routes, becoming a licensed sponsor and advice for cross-border traders.

The UK’s Points-Based Immigration System

  • The UK has now implemented a points-based immigration system that treats EU and non-EU citizens equally.
  • Anyone you want to hire from outside the UK, excluding Irish citizens, will need to apply for permission in advance.
  • Under the points-based immigration system, anyone coming to the UK for work must meet a specific set of requirements for which they will score points.
  • As an emloyer you’ll now need a sponsor licence to hire most eligible employees from outside the UK.

Immigration Routes 

The UK’s Points-Based Immigration System provides flexible arrangements for UK employers to recruit skilled workers from around the world through a number of different immigration routes. Click on the images below to learn more. 

Becoming a Licensed Sponsor

If you are not already a licensed sponsor and you think you will want to sponsor migrants through the Skilled Worker route, you should apply now.

  • Before applying you should check that the people you want to hire will meet the requirements for coming to the UK for work.
  • The standard processing time for an application is usually eight weeks and will start when your application is received.
  • As a licensed sponsor, you will be able to hire eligible employees from anywhere in the world.
  • Some immigration routes, such as Global Talent, are ‘unsponsored’.
  • You don’t need a licence to hire employees with an unsponsored visa.
  • You do not need to be a sponsor to recruit Irish citizens or anyone from the resident labour market with an existing right to work in the UK.
  • This includes EU citizens with settled or pre-settled status, and non-EU citizens with indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

Licensed Sponsor Process

The high-level licence sponsor process is provided below, click for more detailed information including timelines and costs. 

What Should Employers Do Now?

Understand that the rights of an Irish passport holder to live and work in the UK will not change. Irish passport holders will not have to make an immigration application and retain the right to live and work in the UK. Likewise, the rights of a British passport holder to live and work in Ireland will not change, click here for further information.

Conduct an immigration audit to identify any impacted EEA national employees. The EEA is comprised of the EU countries, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and although not in the EEA people from Switzerland have the same rights as EEA nationals. Whilst the rights of Irish passport holders will not change, every other EEA national will have to make an immigration application to prove their right to live and work in the UK.

Establish whether the impacted EEA national employee lives in Northern Ireland or Ireland. An EEA national living in Northern Ireland will more than likely have to make an application under the EU Settlement Scheme, click here for further information. An EEA national living in Ireland and working in Northern Ireland will have to consider their immigration options. They may be able to successfully apply for a “Frontier Worker” permit which will provide proof of their right to work in Northern Ireland (without requiring a work visa). Employers who have employees in this position should take advice as soon as possible.

Does the impacted employee hold a British or Irish passport? If so, they will not have to make an application under the EU Settlement Scheme. Irish passport holders will not be impacted by Brexit. They can continue to live and work in the UK and they can continue to travel to and work in the EU (just as they did before Brexit). Please Note: British passport holders, travelling to countries in the EU (other than the Republic of Ireland) may need a work visa prior to travelling. British passport holders will not be required to make an immigration application in the Republic of Ireland.

What Should Employers Do To Prepare For The Future?

Do you need a UK Sponsor Licence? If you intend to recruit EEA nationals who will not be in the UK before 31 December 2020, you may need a UK Sponsor Licence. Employers should take advice on the application process and the compliance rules (e.g. record-keeping) in relation to this licence, click here for further information. 

Do you need further advice or information on the post Brexit immigration system? If so, useful information can be found  here.

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