The government announced recently the changes that will be coming to the UK immigration system from 1st January 2021. This has prompted questions from some companies about what they need to do with their current Sponsor Licences, and will they need a different type of Licence in order to continue running their business as they are now.
Firstly, a reminder of the key changes that are coming in:
- New EU migrants entering the UK from 1st January 2021 to work/live will need to apply for a visa in the same way as any other nationality. It will be just as easy to hire any nationality at all and there will be no separate status for EU migrants under the new visa system.
- From 1st January 2021 it will be possible to sponsor visas for jobs at skill level RQF 3, which is a significant reduction from the current level of RQF 6. This means that many more job types will be eligible for sponsorship - including many administrative jobs, HR positions and roles in the catering and construction industries.
- There will be no Resident Labour Market Test required - companies will be free to choose whoever they believe will be the most suitable for the role.
- Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) visas will still be available, but they will simply be called “Intra Company Transfer” visas - the reference to Tier 2 will stop.
- Tier 2 (General) is being removed and replaced instead with the Skilled Worker visa.
I already have a Sponsor Licence - do I need to do anything?
Maybe - it depends on the type of Licence you have. Existing Tier 2 (ICT) Licences will automatically be able to sponsor the new ICT visa, and existing Tier 2 (General) Licences will automatically be able to sponsor the new Skilled Worker visa. It is perhaps the Skilled Worker visa that will be most crucial to businesses - this is the visa type that will allow migrant workers to be hired, at RQF Level 3, with no Resident Labour Market Test and from any nationality in the world.
Therefore, if currently you do not hold a Tier 2 (General) Sponsor Licence - for example if currently you have only a Tier 5 Licence or you only hold the Tier 2 (ICT) Licence then to take advantage of the new Skilled Worker visa, you will need to make a new Licence application.
Your choice is either to apply now for Tier 2 (General), which will then automatically allow you to sponsor under the new Skilled Worker route; or alternatively, you can wait until the new system opens and then apply specifically for the Skilled Worker Licence. However, we caution against delay, since we anticipate that there will be unprecedented demand for these Licences from companies that have become reliant on EU or other non-UK workers and will need to continue to hire such individuals in the future and so will all be needing the new Sponsor Licences. This is likely to lead to delay in the Home Office processing such applications, so you may then face a long wait before you can take advantage of the new visas.
For more information, or to make an application for the appropriate Sponsor Licence, please speak to one of our team.