Post Brexit bears a new immigration system from 1st January 2021 as free movement ends in the UK. With the reforms, a new points-based system is brought into force which will incorporate a modified version of the current sponsorship system. The aim of the new system is to treat everyone outside of the UK equally and to attract those who contribute to the UK economy. EU citizens (with the exception of Irish nationals) intending to move to the UK for work purposes will need to apply for a visa in advance. This article focuses solely on the new routes available to those intending on entering the UK for work purposes. Many of the existing routes shall remain the same, with the difference being that EU nationals will be obligated to apply.

Please note that it is strongly recommended that EU nationals apply for the EU Settlement Scheme prior to 30 June 2021 on the condition that they started living in the UK prior to 31 December 2020. This is the simplest approach to safeguarding the interests and status of EU nationals in the UK.

Skilled Worker route

In order to relocate to the UK to work under the Skilled Worker route, the applicant needs to secure a job offer from a sponsor who is licensed by the Home Office. Furthermore, the applicant must check whether the job is eligible which can be achieved by obtaining a four digit occupation code and using the government’s online occupation coding tool. The job must require a minimum skill level of A Level (or equivalent) and the applicant must be able to speak English. Commonly, the job must be accompanied by a salary of £25,600 or more (depending on the “going rate”) however some exceptions apply where the salary is no less than £20,480. Please note different rules apply for those who work in healthcare or education.

When applying to work in the UK the applicant must have a total of seventy points according to the new system. Fifty points are awarded for applicants complying with the mandatory requirements of speaking English, at the required level, with an approved job offer at the necessary skill level.  The remaining twenty points may be obtained by having a salary of £25,600+, having a PHD in a STEM subject relevant to the job, or if the job is in a shortage occupation. If the salary is between £23,040 and £25,599, the seventy points will be satisfied if the applicant has a PHD in a subject relevant to the job.

The application fee for this visa ranges between £610 and £1,408 depending on the circumstances. In addition a health surcharge of £624 per year is payable upfront prior to submitting the visa application. The applicant must hold a minimum of £1,270 in their bank account on arrival into the country which must have been in their account for a minimum of twenty-eight consecutive days from the application date (exemptions apply). In some circumstances the employer may satisfy the financial requirements for the employee. In order to do so, it must be confirmed by the certificate of sponsorship and the employer is required to complete the ‘sponsor certifies maintenance’ section of the certificate. The applicant may be able to be accompanied by a spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner or child however they will need to fill out a separate application.

The visa will be valid for up to five years however may be extended. If the applicant changes employer or falls under a different occupation code than on their visa then they are obliged to update the visa three months before the start date of the new work. Moreover, the applicant may take up to twenty hours further paid or unpaid work in addition to their main employment however this must be in the same occupation code and at the same level otherwise it must be in a shortage occupation.

Global Talent Route

The Global Talent visa has replaced the previous Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category. This is a new route brought about by the new system and is preserved for the most highly skilled workers who are leaders or potential leaders in their field. These workers will not be required to have obtained a job offer prior to entering the UK so long as they are endorsed by a UK body approved by the Home Office. In turn an employer will not need to be a Home Office licensed visa sponsor to employ a worker who has entered the UK on the Global Talent route.

As of November 2020, the list of approved bodies includes The Royal Society for science and medicine applications; The Royal Academy of Engineering for engineering applications; The British Academy for humanities and social science applications; Arts Council England for arts, culture, fashion, architecture, film and television applications; Tech Nation for digital technology applications; and UK Research and Innovation for science and research applications. You must be endorsed by one of the listed bodies prior to applying for the Global Talent visa and make your application within 3 months of receiving your endorsement. A fee of £456 is payable on application for endorsement.

This visa may be valid to up to five years, depending on how long the applicant wishes to remain in the UK. This period can be extended upon a further application. Applicants may apply for this visa whilst outside the UK or switch their existing visa route from Tier 1, 2 or 5. There is no English language requirement unless the applicant intends on settling in the UK. The applicant may be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain after three or five years of being granted the Global Talent visa depending on which body endorsed you.

Furthermore, the applicant may be entitled to bring their Spouse, Civil Partner, or Unmarried Partner as well as their children (if they are under eighteen years of age) if they are granted a Global Talent visa. If the applicant chooses to include another person on their application (e.g. their spouse) extra fees will apply and the healthcare surcharge will have to be paid for each individual on the application. Current fees range between £97-£152 for the visa application, plus an additional £608 for any other person included on the application. The health surcharge currently amounts to £624 per year.

For a detailed discussion on all questions concerning immigration, please contact John Szepietowski at Audley Chaucer on 01372 303444.

Larissa Bourgi

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