Before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Brexit was pretty much all that most employers seemed to talk about. You may recall (although you’d be forgiven for forgetting given recent events) that the UK left the European Union on 31 January 2020, albeit a transition period was agreed between the UK and the EU until 31 December 2020 during which time EU migrants continue to be able to come to and work in the UK without the need for a visa(under EU Freedom of Movement rules).
However, from 1 January 2021, the UK will have a new points-based immigration system under which anyone from outside of the UK(including EU migrants) wishing to come to the UK to work will need to obtain a work visa and they will also need to be sponsored by an employer. The Home Office has recently published a helpful guidance note for employers explaining in layman’s terms what this system will mean for them.
If there is one thing to be aware of, it is this - if you want to employ EU migrants after 1 January 2021, you will need to hold a sponsor’s licence. Obtaining a licence involves completing an application form and submitting specific documents to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and, in many cases, being audited by UKVI to demonstrate that you have the right processes in place to properly sponsor migrant workers. This can take time and businesses will want to submit their applications well before the end of 2020 when there will inevitably be a rush of applications and a longer processing time.
Employers not currently approved by the Home Office to be a sponsor should consider applying now if they think they will want to sponsor skilled migrants, including from the EU, from early 2021