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Brexit Aftermath: The UK's New Immigration System For EU Citizens

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Brexit Aftermath: The UK's New Immigration System For EU Citizens


Are you a European citizen looking for employment opportunities in the United Kingdom? Are you aware of the new immigration rules for the European citizens post UK's exit from the European Union? Here's your answer!

The United Kingdom had made an official exit from the European Union on January 31, 2020. However, both parties decided to keep many clauses and functions untouched till December 31, 2020, for a smooth transition. Therefore, as a result of the 'Brexit,' from January 1, 2021, many things have changed for the United Kingdom and the European Union.

Among those new changes in the new Immigration System, from January 1, 2021, freedom to work and live between the UK and the EU comes to an end. To simplify, it means citizens of the UK will need a visa if they want to stay in the EU for more than 90 days in 180 days. Similarly, the UK has also introduced a new points-based immigration system, which has brought EU and non-EU citizens on the same pedestal. The only exception has been made for the Irish citizens.

What Does The UK's New Immigration System Say?

The purpose of the UK's new points-based immigration system is to allow entry to skilled workers. And to qualify as a skilled worker, a foreign citizen (both EU & non-EU) must meet certain requirements. They are:

  • they have a job offer from a Home Office licensed sponsor
  • the job offer is at the required skill level – RFQ 3 or above (A-Level and equivalent)
  • they speak English to the required standard
  • the general salary threshold of £25,600, or the specific salary requirement for their occupation, known as the 'going rate' (whichever is higher)

Under the new immigration system, all applicants can trade characteristics, such as qualifications, against a lower salary to get the necessary points. If the job offer is less than the minimum salary requirement but not less than £20,480, an aspirant may still be eligible if:

  • they have a job offer in a specific shortage occupation
  • they have a Ph.D. relevant to the job
  • they have a Ph.D. in a STEM subject pertinent to the job

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What To Expect: An Employer Looking To Hire A Skilled Worker Outside The UK

Option 1: Check Immigration Status

Before you employ a foreign worker, you must always use the UK Government's Employer Checking Service to check if your candidate has the right to work in the UK. This is highly critical as you can face fines of up to £20,000 for recruiting an illegal worker.

You must ask the Home Office to check a skilled worker's immigration status if any of the following are true:

  • they cannot show you their documents because of an outstanding appeal, review, or application with the Home Office
  • they have an Application Registration Card
  • they have a Certificate of Application that's less than six months old
  • they are a Commonwealth citizen who started living in the UK before 1988

You’ll need to get the candidate's permission to make the check, and you'll have to provide the candidate’s full name, date of birth, nationality, job title, hours worked per week, home address, Home Office reference number, or case ID (if they have either) to request a check.

If you want to check their original Application Registration Card or Certificate of Application, you must also provide your business name, type, and contact information.

Apply for Sponsor Licence

You will have to apply for a sponsor license to sponsor foreign workers or students to come and work or study in the UK. The sponsor license is also needed to employ workers from the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland in the UK from January 1, 2021.

The EU Countries are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.

The EEA includes EU countries and also Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway. Switzerland is not an EU or EEA member but is part of the single market.

Option 2: Explore the Global Talent Route

If you want to employ a highly skilled professional, you should check your eligibility to apply under the government's Global Talent program. The Global Talent route is open to EU citizens on the same basis as non-EU citizens. Under this scheme, highly skilled professionals, who can achieve the required level of points, will enter the UK without a job offer if endorsed by a recognized UK body, as approved by the Home Office. In this case, you don’t have to be a licensed sponsor to employ a migrant.

This route is designed to attract recognized global leaders and promising individuals in science, humanities, engineering, arts, and digital technology. Professionals like scientists and researchers can benefit from a quicker endorsement process as part of a fast-track STEM scheme.

Here’s a list of approved endorsing bodies:

  • The Royal Society, for science and medicine
  • The Royal Academy of Engineering, for engineering
  • The British Academy, for humanities
  • UK Research and Innovation, for science and research
  • Tech Nation, for digital technology
  • Arts Council England, for arts and culture

What To Expect: If Your Employee Wants To Work Remotely In An EU Country

When an employee from an EU country wants to work remotely for a UK company, it poses a few legal challenges for the employer. When based in an EU country, the worker will be under the dominion of their country of residence. As a result, the UK employer will have to follow the employment laws of another country, which means one must ensure minimum wage decreed in the concerned EU member state, holidays, and other benefits.

Other than that, there are complications around cross-border tax laws. When an employee works remotely, issues like whether the employee should pay taxes to the UK or their country of residence become inexorable. Some countries have agreements to prevent remote employees from paying taxes in two countries.

What To Expect: The New Immigration System For International Students

A new graduate immigration system will be introduced from June 2021. Under this scheme, international graduates will be allowed to stay in the UK two years after graduation to work or look for work at any level and in any sector. Students who have completed a Ph.D. will remain in the UK for three years after graduating.

Currently, citizens from the EU, EEA, and Switzerland can apply for student visas, if they:

  • are offered a place on a university course
  • have enough money to pay for the course and can financially support themselves while studying
  • can speak, read, write, and understand English.

The UK government has shared detailed information on their website.

If you have any more questions about how to be a 100% compliant employer in the UK or how to manage with your remote employees working from the EU countries, write to us at info@skuad.io.

Read Next – IR35: Everything You Need To Know About UK’s New Tax Laws

About the author

Sandeep Patel is a Content Marketing Manager and Strategist. Over the last five years, he has created and managed content for global brands and fintech startups. He is passionate about remote work and using tech for a better work-life balance.

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